Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Road to Our Full Potential

Saturday evening, I officiated Kiandra and Zach’s wedding ceremony at The Olana in Hickory Creek, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Kiandra and Zach are very clear about what they do for each other. Zach says, “I have thought about her every day since [I met her]. She makes me want to be a better person, not only for her, but for myself. No one has given me more confidence…” And Kiandra mirrors this, when she says, “I want to marry Zach because he has the kindest heart… He’s always looking out for the people that he loves and [he] wants them to feel as special as he believes them to be.”

Now, you might find what they say simple and straightforward, and it is, but there is also tremendous depth here. Essentially, what they are saying is that each helps the other, as well as others, live up to their full potential. You might think this is obvious; isn’t that what marriage and life are and have always been about?

Well, in a word, no. Until very recently, living up to your full potential in life, in general, as well as finding that partner who through marriage could help you do just that, was far from a given. Even today, though we have traveled quite a distance, barriers on the road to our full potential have not been fully taken down.

And yet this striving for reaching your full potential has always been embedded in our tradition, both regarding life, in general, and marriage, specifically. Indeed, this is one of the reasons that the wedding ceremony, specifically, repeatedly alludes to the mythical first couple in the Garden of Eden.

The Ancient Rabbis tell us that God created one couple from whom we are all descended to emphasize that none of us are inherently any better than anyone else, that each of us has a unique contribution with which we can make the world a better place, and that each of us, with our partners, if we are so fortunate to find that special person, have limitless potential to create entire worlds.  

That is what marriage is all about. That is what Kiandra and Zach are all about. We should all be so lucky.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Surrounded by Angels

Last Saturday afternoon, I officiated Arielle and Alex’s wedding ceremony at Dallas Arboretum in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Alex, fittingly, writes about an important lesson his stepparents taught him: “Watching Ken and Trish treat me as their own, I discovered selflessness. The idea of concerning yourself more with the needs and wishes of others than with your own… I became obsessed with finding other examples of this. Who in their right mind would spend their life concerned with other people’s problems? Well, it turns out there are millions…”

This lesson stands out to me because too many people today seem to implicitly and sometimes explicitly be saying, “I’ve got mine, and I don’t really care if you get yours.” The words of the fictional yet all too real Gordon Gecko, “Greed is good,” seem to be celebrated rather than mocked and condemned.

How did this happen? Arielle relates a funny story that helps explain this fact: “I decided to try Match… I originally signed up for 3 months and, honestly, didn’t see or talk to anyone I even wanted to meet. It was such a waste of time! I was so glad I only joined for 3 months. However, those subscriptions auto renew, and I definitely forgot about that. So my account auto renewed and I was so pissed… [Then with] about a month left [on] my membership I got a message from Dallex. (He’s so creative, LOL!)”

Our society did not end up here by accident. We, as a society, set up systems that brought us to where we are. Many of these systems operate in the background, so we hardly notice them. Every now and then we luck out and those systems end up helping us, like they did in Arielle’s Match auto-renewal, but this is the exception, not the rule.

How do we solve this problem? The Ancient Rabbis had an idea, which builds on a verse from the very first chapter of the Torah. This verse is a popular one at weddings: “And God created man in his image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.”

Without even resorting to rabbinic interpretation, the last words of the verse already tell us that we can only reflect the image of God when we are meaningfully connected to another person.

Here is what the Rabbis say, which takes this to an entirely different level: “A procession of angels passes before each person, and the heralds go before them, saying, ‘Make way for the image of God!’” Think about that next time you see someone you don’t know, someone to whom you feel no connection. Think about that next time you see someone who might be down on their luck, or even someone who has not lived their life as the most upright citizen of the community. Each one of these people is surrounded by angels.

Once you understand that this truth lies beneath the surface, Alex’s original question almost flips on its head. If you truly recognize that each of us is surrounded by angels, who in their right mind would NOT spend their life concerned with other people’s problems? Now think about how cool this world would be if we really took this idea seriously.

Rabbi Michele Lenke suggested this image could be a way of understanding the six feet of distance we are supposed to put between ourselves and others. The six feet could be envisioned as making room for the invisible angels that surround each of us. When we keep our physical distance, we are not trying to get away from one another, but rather, leaving space for our angels.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Walk Side by Side into the Unknown of Tomorrow

Saturday afternoon, Reverend Ronald Vickers and I co-officiated Brandy and Ed’s wedding ceremony at the Marty Leonard Chapel, in Fort Worth, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

You would think that the story of how a couple met would have some consistency to it regardless of who tells it. If there are differences, you might expect for the differences to fit with the gender stereotypes of the teller. That would be extremely foolish of you, in this case. Check this out.

Ed writes: “We met in one of those circumstances that they make Lifetime movies about. I was invited to a party by some friends I’d met playing video games online. She walked in the door and I couldn’t think about anything else for the rest of the night. The first time we talked we couldn’t be parted for hours.”

That’s so sweet. I can almost hear the palpable regret of some of the ladies present at this guy being officially taken off the market.

Now, here’s Brandy: “Ed and I first met... in a bathroom... My dad is very proud of the fact that he is the one who sent me into the bathroom...”


OK, OK, truth be told, I did leave out the part where she explains that this was at, “a science fiction and fantasy convention in DFW called FenCon,” as well as the context that, “the bathroom was not functioning as a bathroom, but rather as a make-shift bar.” Oh, and that her dad sent her in there, “in search of a drink.”

From meeting in the bathroom, it was just a natural progression to the location of their first date. Brandy matter of factly says, “The next weekend we went on our first official date. It started at the car dealership where I was supposed to be getting routine maintenance but was instead getting a new tire...”

Ed says that there was actually something really valuable about this: “Despite this unfortunate locale, the experience was not diminished. If anything, I think meeting in mundane circumstances provided an important counterbalance to the raucousness of the previous weekend. We both had the chance to experience one another in opposing social scenarios, and we learned that we could enjoy each other’s company regardless of the setting.” As a child of the 80s myself, I think this might be what Madonna meant when she sang, “Put your love to the test.”

Ed’s description of how he knew this relationship would go the distance belies his somewhat hyper rational outlook: “When I started dating Brandy I just knew where my future would lead from that moment. It’s like the strands of our fates struck a resounding chord and created a harmony. It’s the kind of situation that makes you reconsider your belief in soulmates and destiny. Some circumstances just resonate in a particular way that tugs on a person’s perceptions, if they’re willing to accept what they’re seeing and feeling.”

Brandy describes that harmony: “I love how we work together, even when we disagree, and we have natural rhythms that complement each other. I love that we can have a lazy day together, that we can share our hobbies with each other, and introduce each other to new things. I love that we support each other, that he understands, comforts, and listens when I need; that he understands my need to go and do things and is always ready for the next adventure. I love that he trusts me and that we are always honest with each other. I love that we can talk about difficult things and work through them or talk about differences of opinion rationally. I love that we laugh a lot together.”

That why Brandy says, “I am ready to walk side by side into the unknown of tomorrow, confident that we will always strive to be better together, to lift each other up and support each other whatever comes our way.”

Ed agrees: “I have found the person I want to share the rest of my life with, and it’s the right time to let the world know that. And besides, we’ll probably throw a fun party.”

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Go the Distance

Saturday evening (11/7), I officiated Jayme and Jordan’s wedding ceremony at The Harlow in Kansas City, Missouri. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

“I went to Kansas City on a Friday, by Saturday I learned a thing or two, but up 'till then I didn't have an idea of what the mod'rn world was comin' to.”

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself; I’ve always wanted to begin personal remarks at a wedding, with those words. For those of you who don’t recognize those words, well, shame on you. They are from Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City, part of one of the greatest stage shows, Oklahoma, by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Now, everyone can and should appreciate Rodgers and Hammerstein, regardless of where they live and what generation they are from. It is, however, fascinating to reflect on the fact that for many years for many people, Kansas City was the height of culture and technology.

And some of us, like Jayme and Jordan and me, got to first experience American adulthood and become truly independent in Kansas City, many years after Kansas City was overtaken in prominence by other cities.

We don’t always stop to think about how the place we live, the place we fall in love, or the place we get married is a character in our story, but it is, and this is true no less in real life than it is in a stage show. This can be true, even when your story starts about forty miles away, like it did for this couple.

The beauty of Jayme and Jordan’s Kansas City story is that in Jayme’s words. “It just kind of naturally happened.” In fact, and I have had a few other couples who this happened to, they moved in together, first, along with Jessie, just to save on rent.

Then, Jordan says, “The dynamic of the household… changed a bit. After a few years, Jayme and I still had feelings for each other and decided to do things over again, really giving it our all. Our love for each other would grow and blossom over time. Eventually, Jessie would accept a job in another state making the townhouse just Jayme and I’s…”

Jayme feels like this natural evolution is key to their getting here today, “I think something that made our relationship so strong was that we were friends first… We have built a good foundation… It is built to last.” This is why they both felt that, in Jordan’s words, “Our love is strong, and it only felt right to start talking about the next steps.”

The strength of that love and its character, having evolved naturally, is reflected in both of them speaking of the other as their best friend. And this is where their future diverges from Rodgers and Hammerstein. They have certainly not, “gone about as fer as they can go.” This relationship will go the distance.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Sunday evening, I officiated Heather and Aaron’s wedding ceremony at The Springs Event Venue - the Ranch, in Aubrey, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Heather and Aaron chose to have this quote from Rumi read today; they feel it speaks to their relationship. “The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind I was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere; they're in each other all along.” I’m not sure how you say déjà vu in 13th Century Persian, but it sounds like Rumi is saying just that.

I find that very appropriate. Yogi Berra might even say about what we are doing here today that it is déjà vu all over again. That is because the last time Heather, Aaron, their parents, and his sister got together, it was back in May, for an even more intimate wedding ceremony at Frisco Commons Park.

I want to go back a little further, though. I ask every person I marry to write an essay about themselves and their partners. Heather and Aaron wrote their essays on the same day we had our second wedding ceremony planning meeting, March 13th. In a sense, these essays could be treated as time capsules of a world long gone.

Now, I ask every couple not to read each other’s essays before our meeting. Heather and Aaron abided by this, which makes the following fact really interesting. In these time capsules, they both independently highlighted the same fact about each other. They said that one of the reasons they so loved each other is that they found the other to be selfless.

Little did they know how important that word, that idea, that concept would become in the new world we live in. They could hardly have imagined that folks across the world, in the profession Heather works in and Aaron spent many years in, would be called on to meet the moment with selflessness. And none of us could have imagined that each of us in our daily lives would be asked to continue to this very day to act selflessly. 

I joke with couples I have married or have begun to work with since March, that I don’t envy their future children. They will not be able to complain about anything. “Oh, you’re having a hard time with cleaning your room/mowing the lawn/doing your homework, are you? Try living through a global pandemic. Now that was hard!”

In all seriousness, though, I believe that Heather and Aaron’s children, specifically, have the potential to be a little kinder, a little more patient, a little more understanding. I believe this not only because of the hardship their parents will have experienced, but because they had a head start on that idea, we have all learned the importance of, selflessness.   

A Hebrew Speaking Dog, an Austrian Psychoanalyst, and a German Philosopher

Saturday afternoon, I officiated Lily and Matt’s wedding ceremony at Sage Lodge in Pray Montana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

A Hebrew speaking dog, an Austrian psychoanalyst, and a German philosopher. No, they didn’t walk into a bar. I was just reminded of each of them, when talking to Lily and Matt. Allow me to explain.

Both Lily and Matt made an interesting choice. Many folks dream of moving out to California. Their approach was little different. Their dream was to move from California to God’s country.

You might think a Jew would find it ironic to refer to Montana as God’s country, because, you know, being His chosen people and all that, so few of us, Lily being one of only 1,395, live here. Not true. Montana more than makes up for this having had perhaps the most famous Hebrew speaking dog in America, Miky.

Courtesy of Dylan Brown/Helena Independent Record

No, he didn’t really speak Hebrew, but, like me, he did serve in the Israel Defense Force, and then, again, like me, he moved to the US. The IDF gave him to the Helena Police Department, and they had to find a rabbi to help them learn commands in proper Israeli accented Hebrew, because, unlike me, he didn’t understand a word of English. True story.

Now, let’s get serious. When I was speaking with Lily and Matt about their life journeys one concept came up again and again, meaning or purpose. Matt, discussing his evolving thinking, says, “If human beings have purpose… it stands to reason someone or something is behind those… a creator or simply nature itself.” And, Lily, who was a fan of Matt’s before she even met him says, “He sparks an intense sense of purpose within me.”

This approach reminded me of one of the most profound books I ever read, first at the age of 17, in Hebrew, and then in my 40s in English, Man’s Search for Meaning. In this book, the Austrian psychoanalyst, Viktor Frankl, combines biography with an explanation of his therapeutic method. Though scientifically grounded, this method was inspired by Nietzsche’s philosophical outlook that, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

This approach calls upon each of us to do the hard work Lily and Matt have each done, individually, to discover our purpose, to find true meaning in our lives. Indeed, Frankl contends, that it is incumbent upon each of us to search for and find our own meaning.

When this type of hard work is done not only as individuals but as a couple, it makes us better individuals too. As Matt says, it helps one arrive at, “a level of honesty… that I’ve never known previously.” And, in Lily’s words, has the potential to make one want to become “the best version of” oneself and, “follow through in that pursuit.”

It is through this hard work, that Lily and Matt have been able to discover within each other and within their relationship, the truth of another profound statement, this time from C.S. Lewis, “Love is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners ask and receive from God." We should all be so lucky.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Carry On

Sunday afternoon, I officiated Megan and David’s wedding ceremony at W House, in Gun Barrel City, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I always ask every couple to not only tell me how they met, but to write about it too. Some answers are more interesting and some are less, some tell you more about what was going on in the minds of the protagonists and some tell you less, some are well written and some, well, are not.

Fortunately, Megan and David’s answers score well on all these points! David writes, “I finally asked her on a date to go bowling, which she accepted. I picked her up and drove to Main Event. The bowling date itself was great, but then on the way back, I got a flat tire. I was embarrassed beyond imagination, and even had someone passing by help out. I thought to myself that she’d never want to talk to me or see me again. Thankfully, I was mistaken, and we’ve been together ever since.”

Now, Megan’s answer is also really funny in a very sweet way: “He asked me to go bowling. Our first date was 8-22-16. Of course, I got lost going there and went to the wrong place first. I was so embarrassed. I remember seeing his bowling stuff and was like, ‘Wow, he is a nerd!’ He also got me roses. Then he tried to show me how to play pool. We went and got Philly cheesesteak. When we were coming back, he got a flat tire. I actually felt bad for him and wished I could help him more. It was kinda funny.”

So, why do I like stories of how people met, especially when they are interesting, descriptive of the protagonists’ inner life, well written and funny? Well, aside from the fact that there is not enough good writing out there, many times it tells you a lot about the couple, beyond that specific moment in time. And, if you know Megan and David, I think you can see what I mean, when you hear them telling that story.

I also ask every couple why now is the right time for their wedding. Megan is utterly practical and very honest in her answer to why now, “We decided to get married now because we are ready. Also, I’m not getting younger and we would like to have a family.” Ok, then. David says, “Over the years, we’ve discussed marriage and agreed that 2-3 years was a good time frame.” 

Now, usually, asking why now is a pretty simple and innocent question. I never anticipated that there would be an additional layer to that question. Then again, none of us, unless any of you work at the CDC, or have seen Outbreak or Contagion too many times, could have imagined what is going on the world right now.

And here is where I find the second part of David’s answer instructive, “With everything going on in the world right now, it seems even more important to make sure we get married now instead of waiting.” Obviously, there are very few right or wrong answers to many of our questions right now. However, what Megan and David tell us is that while we should follow the science and always be safe, it is important that we carry on. That is a great lesson for all of us.

Choose Our Destinies

Saturday evening, I officiated Robin and Scott’s wedding ceremony in downtown Plano, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

The story of how Robin and Scott married is reminiscent of an important element added to one of the oldest stories ever written down, the Gilgamesh Epic. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh about a great flood that the gods wrought to destroy all of humanity. Most of us will find this story familiar, as eventually this evolved into the story of Noah.

Of course, the question is why would God destroy all of humanity? The God of the Bible, being bound by a moral code, does so because of the evil of humankind. The gods of the Gilgamesh Epic, being more morally ambiguous, do not really have to justify themselves, and in the original versions of the story they do not.

However, later versions make some attempt at least at an explanation, if not a justification for why they would do such a thing. While some versions speak of the gods growing concerned with overpopulation, other versions include a reason, which is at the same time horrifying and hilarious: Humankind is really noisy, and the poor gods are just trying to sleep…

OK, why is that funny? Oh, this is why. Scott recounts what happened the night he met Robin: “One starry headache pounding night a loud ruckus came from our backyard.” Now, luckily, Scott was not an ancient Sumerian god, so all he could do was, in Robin’s words, come “out to tell us to keep it down.” However, once Scott saw Robin, there was no going back to sleep. Instead of scolding them, he joined the party, and here we are seven years later.

Now, there is an important element in what the old radio broadcaster, Paul Henry, would call, “the rest of the story.” Both Robin and Scott recognize that what I just said, “Here we are seven years later,” is by no means an automatic result of that fateful evening. Like all of us, they have had easier times and harder times, and they have chosen to harness all of these experiences to learn and to grow as individuals and as a couple.

What a great lesson for the time we are in. None of us have chosen to live through the experiences we are now going through. None of us can predict how we will come out on the other side. However, if we can escape the random clutches of our fates, perhaps, like Robin and Scott, we too can choose our destinies.

Turn Your Fate into Your Destiny

Friday evening, Father Anthony McGinn and I co-officiated Ashley and Doug’s wedding ceremony at the Marigny Opera House, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I found Doug’s description of how he and Ashley met intriguing: “I was travelling to New York City one weekend… My sister was flying back from a business trip around the same time I was flying in from New Orleans. I was going to meet up with her so we could share a cab into the city… Her flight was delayed, so I sat at her gate… waiting… I was messing around on my phone and ended up logging-on to Bumble… I ended up matching with Ashley and even though I was up front with her about the fact that I lived out of town, we ended up texting…”

Forget the fact that the last paragraph would not have even made sense to any of you, just a few years ago. You wouldn’t understand what messing around on a phone means. You wouldn’t understand how one would log in on a phone. You wouldn’t understand what an app is or how one matched on it.

It’s also kind of crazy, when you think about how we got here. Cellular technology was developed from a process used to navigate torpedoes to hit Nazi naval vessels, and apps matching folks partially based on where they are, rely on GPS, developed to track Soviet intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles. What I’m trying to say is that fate, forces far beyond the control of Ashley and Doug, brought them together.

Ashley picks up the story from here: “From then on, we texted back and forth every day. Texting turned into phone calls. Phone calls turned into FaceTimes. Keep in mind: we still hadn’t met in person. As fate would have it, we were both going to Chicago for Labor Day Weekend! He was on a bachelor party and I was going to visit friends.”

Now here is where their descriptions interestingly diverge. Doug simply says, “Ashley and I ended up meeting up at a bar around Wrigley Field called Sluggers.” Fate, once again? Not according to Ashley! “If you know me, you know I’m very determined. How could we both be in the same city and NOT meet? I was out with my friends at a bar and Doug had been out all day for a football game. He and his friends were on a party bus back to the city. Their next destination? Sluggers sports bar near Wrigley field. So naturally, I hopped into an Uber… I waltzed right in wearing a bright red dress like the emoji girl... and immediately spotted Doug at the bar. We started dancing, laughing, talking all night and closed the place down. Fun fact: unbeknownst to me, his friends were still there and were spying on us from afar. I got the stamp of approval.”

There’s a lot more to the story of the last few years, but these two beginning parts tell us a lot, if we are willing to listen. Don’t take it from me. Take it from Ashley, “I like the think our story is one of fate but also persistence — our commitment to our love, embracing each other's' uniqueness and making it work.” Interestingly, the contrast between fate and what she calls persistence is reflected in the writing of a giant of 20th Century Jewish philosophy, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. He defines fate as something that happens to you, over which you have no control. He says the challenge is to transform that fate into destiny, through which you metamorphose from being the one acted upon by forces beyond your control into an actor who takes control.

When you do that, specifically in the framework of a loving partnership, the potential for growth as individuals and as a couple is limitless. Now, going to a bar in Chicago to meet someone you have never met in person takes some fortitude and possibly some liquid courage, even for an extrovert like Ashley. You may not be able to truly imagine what it meant for Doug, the introvert to take the next step. As he tells us, “Anyone that ever knew me would have bet their life that I would never move out of New Orleans. Everything I knew and loved was in New Orleans. I didn’t really know anyone in NYC outside of my sister, I didn’t have a job there, and New York was a city that was a completely different lifestyle than I had ever imagined for myself. Normally I would have been all sorts of anxious and sick to make such a leap. The difference this time was Ashley.”

Ashley sums up why their relationship works, “Doug and I come from very different backgrounds. He’s a more reserved Catholic boy who grew up in the South and never thought he’d leave, and I’m an extroverted Midwestern Jewish girl who has lived in a fast-paced city environment for most of my adult life. But our differences are what make us perfect for each other! We balance each other out and bring out the best in each other. I push him outside of his comfort zone. And he encourages me to slow down, be more patient and enjoy life’s little moments.”

The lesson, my friends, is clear. Be like Ashley and Doug. Turn your fate into your destiny. It does, indeed, pay off.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

A Love as Strong as Ours Deserves the Respect of Marriage

Saturday afternoon, I officiated Katie and Grant’s wedding ceremony at Blissful Hill in Spicewood, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

It is hard to generalize, however, most successful relationships, as time passes, toggle between two states of being. They deepen every day, while continuing to preserve the sense of freshness that came from the first time you met. If you will, they are at once Carly Rae Jepsen’s, “Hey, I just met you and this is crazy, but here's my number, so call me maybe,” while at the same time Pablo Neruda’s, “So close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.” (Hopefully, the literary gods will not strike me down for comparing the two artists…)

You sense that Katie and Grant have this figured out. Check out the beginning of their story. Grant says, “I took her to a sushi date which turned into another [thing to do] and another thing to do. The date lasted over ten hours. I went home that night and just slept. I knew she was the one.” Katie says, “He was funny and care-free, and it felt as though I’d already known him forever.” And, she adds, “We count that date as our anniversary because we pretty much knew from that point on there was nobody else for us.”

One of the reasons their relationship works is because Grant says Katie is, “an enigma. Katie’s energy has always been something magnetic. She can talk your ear off, and I love that about her because I don’t like to talk much most of the time.” Katie elaborates on that specific point saying that Grant is her, “best friend and that’s what makes it different from every other relationship. Grant balances me in many ways and pushes me out of my comfort zone with his hobbies.” And, in case you were wondering, yes, that includes hobbies the average city girl does not engage in, unless she marries a self-described “good ole country boy,” hunting and fishing!

Their relationship has actually been put to the ultimate test, one that would have made no sense to a time traveler from just a few months back. As Grant says, “I’ve been around the world with her… I’ve cooked with her, I’ve watched shows with her, and now (wait for it…) I’ve been quarantined with her.” And that experience led him to say, “I’ve come to realize that no one will ever be a better life partner than Katie.”

This is why Katie says, “I can’t imagine my life without him. If it were up to me, I would’ve married him three years ago.” This is why Grant says, “A love as strong as ours deserves the respect of marriage.”

Sunday, September 13, 2020

We Should All Be So Lucky

Friday morning, I officiated Mike and Lauren’s wedding ceremony at the Joule in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I ask every couple why they want to get married. Anyone else asking this would be considered quite rude. I mean, imagine walking into the office Monday morning, after your boyfriend, now fiancé, proposed and you accepted. You go up to Susan, your coworker, and show her the ring. She’s supposed to warmly hug you and gush, “Congratulations! Tell me all about the proposal!” Instead, she says, “Why?” Awkward!

Of course, Susan being crossed off your Christmas/Chanukah card list aside, it is an important question for each person to answer. And, luckily, in the context of planning a meaningful wedding ceremony, I can ask this question.

What I like about Lauren and Michael’s answers is that they do not shy away from the fact that relationships aren’t all gumdrops and sunshine. They are hard work. If your answer to why marry does not acknowledge that, if you really think that every moment of your marriage is going to be amazing, we really need to talk.

What Lauren and Michael tell us is that through their relationship, through the hard work they have put in to build it, they have found the sum total of their relationship is amazing. Spoiler alert: Everyone’s answer to the why question needs to be some form of this answer. I wish every couple got it like Lauren and Michael did.

Michael says, “There are always ups and downs in relationships, but in Lauren I found a fiercely loyal partner that is somehow more beautiful on the inside than she is on the outside. To this day I still pinch myself and wonder how I got so lucky.” 

And Lauren articulates this concept, so perfectly: “We… keep each other honest and challenge each other to be better, but at the end of the day accept each other for who we are now. We… let each other down at times, but we always grow and learn… It took time to be comfortable with ourselves and that we are enough for each other… Time has shown us both how much we love each other (and) that we are capable of so much more together than apart.”

That is the answer right there; that is the reason to marry: We are capable of so much more together than apart. We should all be so lucky.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Be Fearless

Friday evening, I officiated Carly and Javier’s wedding ceremony at The Mason in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I ask every person I marry to write an autobiographical essay, and I tell them that their essay serves as the raw material for these remarks. I love quoting couples in their own words and learning from what they say. I don’t usually quote three whole paragraphs. However, these three paragraphs with which Carly opened her essay are just incredible. Check this out:

“The moment I knew I was in love with Javier, we were sitting in Houston traffic, stuck at a stoplight. It was a clear, blue skied, Saturday. It was one of those few days we get in Texas between summer and fall where the sun is bright, but the wind is cool. The windows were down. We had been driving around Houston and trading songs back and forth, and I put on Celine Dion’s song ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’.

Stay with me here, because I know Celine Dion conjures up just about every love cliché you can think of. I put on the song, thinking he’d shake it off, and tell me to change it. But he didn’t. He leaned his head out the window and started belting out the words. He knew all of them. I laughed. The car next to us laughed. And I started singing along too. Sitting there in that car with him reminded me of all the road trips I took with my dad growing up – how we would set off onto the open road, play music, and sing the whole way without regard to who might stare into our car and wonder why.

After I lost my dad, the hardest part was feeling like I had lost my own fearlessness. I had lost the reminder that no matter where I was, or what I did, I was good because I was his. But, as I sat in that car, and looked over at a man who knew that a cool breeze meant the windows were down, and a good song meant that he would be singing it, that I had found a man that could hold me and set me free all at once.”

I wasn’t lying when I used the word incredible, was I?

Now it’s interesting. I do ask couples to tell how they met and why they want to get married. I don’t usually ask when they fell in love or when they realized they were in love, but not only does Carly address this, Javier does too. His story also involves Celine Dion. No, I’m joking. It involves The Doors: “The day came when I realized I was in love and was going to marry this beautiful woman. Earlier in the relationship my friend Ricardo had told me, after meeting Carly, ‘She is not the kind of woman you date; she is the kind you marry.’ I remember I brushed it off with a smirk… One night we were in my apartment with friends. She was in the kitchen listening to Ricardo rant about how much he loves The Doors… She was looking at me and smiling and it hit me, I remembered Ricardo’s words… From that day forward I decided I would do whatever it takes to be with this woman forever. My life was with her.” 

Sounds like he is pretty fearless too. 

Check out what Javier’s fearlessness does for him: “I could go on with so many stories of how amazing Carly is, but the truth is I found my person, my favorite person on this earth, my friend in times of need and my companion in life. Every day waking up next to Carly is a blessing and I am thankful every day that I have her in my life. With her I am the best version of myself, my true self, not withholding or hiding anything. I know my life is better with her.”

It is this same fearlessness that allows Carly to say: “Finding Javier was like finding my heart again. He taught me that I could honor what I lost by discovering what I could find. I never thought at thirty, with all the things life has brought my way, that I would somehow feel brand new, like I could learn how to hold someone’s heart, and all the while, find space to grow… There is something eerie and cool and big before us. And we’re ready to give it all the love we got.”

What a fabulous lesson. If you take one thing from today, be like Carly and Javier: Be fearless. 

Anything But Crazy

Saturday evening (8.22), I officiated Chanel and Ben’s wedding ceremony on Zoom. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Chanel and Ben first contacted me back in early 2019, and from the get-go they knew what they wanted to open their wedding ceremony with, Let’s Go Crazy by Prince. I feel like there is something prophetic about this choice. 

Why do I say that? Well, weddings have many expectations attached to them in this country. Many a bride and groom will hear that there is a certain way to do things, or at least parameters, within which their choices need to be confined. 

Prince, on the other hand, says, in a word, nonsense, or in three words, let’s go crazy. It’s your wedding. Forget about what everyone else says or thinks. You do you. I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that Chanel and Ben did not realize how crazy it was going to get, but there you are!

Seriously, though, there are tremendous lessons here for life. After all, despite the word play that opens the song, Prince is not really talking about weddings, he is talking about life. This might be the non-prophetic reason that Chanel and Ben chose this song, in the first place, and the reason they ended up choosing to conduct their wedding in the iconoclastic way we are conducting it today.

Ironically, the best wedding ceremonies are those that make clear what this couple felt from the start: What we are doing here today is but a preamble. Chanel and Ben’s marriage, the life that they will live together from this day forward, is what really matters. 

That is why when I asked Ben why he wants to get married now, his answer was, “I could have waited… but why? I’ve found the person who I want to be with, who I want share great news with first, who compliments me. who pushes me, who makes me want to be better every day.”

That is why Chanel’s answer to the same question was, “We openly put it on the table, what we wanted for our lives. From the beginning I knew what kind of man Ben is. A serious one. When I say serious, I mean a man with goals and values... a good, kind, reliable, and patient partner to me… We’ve been consistent with one another through it all. So, when I try to answer, ‘Why, now?’ my answer is, ‘Why, wait?’"

That my friends, it seems to me, is anything but crazy.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Plow Forward and Overcome

Thursday night, I officiated Ellie and Edwin’s wedding ceremony at the Springs Events in Aubrey – the Lodge, in Aubrey, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

You might wonder why Ellie, an off the beaten path LDS member and Edwin, a (likely) undefined theist of Christian origin, would choose a rabbi to officiate their wedding. Not if you know them, however; if you know them this makes perfectly good sense, precisely because it doesn’t. They are both very deep thinkers and to say they are iconoclasts in their thinking is an understatement.  

Now, though I am not your average rabbi (another understatement), to a hammer, everything is a nail. So, naturally, when I think of Ellie and Edwin, I am reminded of a comment made by a 16th Century Polish rabbi. 

Rabbi Moshe Isserles was one of the most important authorities in the history of the development of Jewish Law. His rulings take the form of glosses on the text of his Spanish counterpart, Rabbi Yosef Karo’s compendium, the Shulchan Aruch or Set Table.

Sometimes he is silent regarding his counterpart’s rulings, sometimes he has a short comment about them, and sometimes his glosses are much lengthier than Karo’s text. The first gloss in this compendium is an example of the latter. Isserles, commenting on just ten of Karo’s words, goes on at length, quoting not only scripture and previous legal sources as he is wont to often do, but even a philosophical work.

And then, in the very first gloss in this lengthy multi-volume compendium, he makes a comment that might seem curious for a religion focused not on beliefs or emotions, but on action, “And he should not feel shame because of those people who ridicule him in the work of the Lord, blessed be His Name.”

Most people are deathly afraid of what other people will say. And, so they conform. They just go with the flow. They never step out of line. I’m not sure how you would say this in 16th Century Polish, but what Isserles says here is, basically, screw that.

Recognize that those who try to do the right thing will always face opposition. This is just the nature of the world. Inoculate yourself, so you may continue to do the work. Know that there will be forces arrayed against you, and plow forward and overcome them. And, just like Ellie and Edwin, do not feel shame because of those people who ridicule you in the work of the Lord, blessed be His Name.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

We Forge On

Saturday morning, I officiated Cydney and James’ wedding ceremony in Farmers Branch, Texas. All participants are in this picture! (Masks were removed just for the ceremony, in case you were wondering, which under the Governor’s executive order, is kosher.) At the end of the ceremony, before James broke the glass, I shared these words with them:

When the Temple was destroyed, many responded by going into a perpetual state of deep mourning, refusing to eat meat or drink wine. 

A great sage, Rabbi Joshua, challenged a group of these people: “My sons… why do you not eat meat nor drink wine?” They indignantly replied: “Shall we eat flesh which used to be brought as an offering… drink wine which used to be poured as a libation?” 

Rabbi Joshua challenged them not to eat certain fruits or even bread, since these too were offered in the Temple. They managed to wiggle out of those challenges, with their idea intact, saying they would eat other foods. He reminded them that once a year, water was offered, and so, by their logic, they could not drink water. Now, they were stumped. 

Then he said, “To not mourn at all is impossible… to mourn too much is also impossible… The Sages, therefore… ordained: A man may stucco his house, but he should leave a little bare… A woman can put on all her jewelry but leave off one item.” This is, likely, the origin of the next custom. 

We are currently experiencing a calamity, without precedent. One could respond in different ways, just as Jews responded to the Temple’s destruction in different ways. Obviously, response to trauma does not follow logic. However, we should aspire to respond as Rabbi Joshua suggested then and as you do today. 

While not minimizing the suffering we see around us, we adapt, and by the grace of God, with hopes for a better future, we forge on. 

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Meaningful Yet Simple

Saturday evening, I officiated Raylea and Eric’s wedding ceremony at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel in Dallas, Texas.

Raylea and Eric’s love story is a testament to the power of true love to help one learn, better oneself and transform. It is also a testament to an important correlate to that: To truly love your partner, you must learn to love yourself. And, it is a testament to the symbiotic nature of both propositions. Check this out; you will see what I mean.   

Raylea says, “We had something special. He was always there for me… He only wanted me to think for myself… I refocused my energy… Before this I never had a goal and now, I’m accomplishing every one. Without Eric’s continued love and support I truly believe I would not be the person I am today. We’ve grown up together and for the better. I want to be better not just for him but more importantly myself… It was only when I learned to love myself was I able to provide him the love he deserved. With all my being he is the love of my life, forever and always.”


And, Eric says, “Just as Raylea has grown while being together I have been able to do the same. Sometimes I also have to learn things the hard way, and Raylea has shown me just as much forgiveness as I have for her. Raylea has also always been there for me when I need her. Although we may not agree on everything we have both learned to work together… We have learned not to sweat the small things. Being able to care for Raylea is also something that makes me want to actively continue to try and learn and work to better our lives.”

It is the power of this love that enabled Raylea to go from doubting that she knew what real love was to do something that not many women do. As a child of ardent feminist, McGovern voting, ERA supporting parents, it pains me to say this, but, yes, she is the very first of more than 450 hetero brides I have married who proposed to her groom. “It was the most legitimately surprised I have ever been in my entire life…” says Eric, “It could not have been more meaningful yet simple.”

Now, there is a great wish for any relationship, and one I am confident Raylea and Eric will achieve, “It could not have been more meaningful yet simple.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Medicine and Prayer


Tuesday night I participated in an interfaith Zoom discussion on healing through prayer vs. healing through medicine.

The question being considered here reminds me of an old Jewish tale about two Jews who had a dispute. They came to the town rabbi and asked him to resolve it. The rabbi carefully listened to the first man and said, “You’re right!” Then he carefully listened to the second man and said, “You’re right!” His wife, who was sitting just a few feet away, exclaimed: “ They can’t both be right!” The rabbi said: “You’re right, too!”

Seriously, traditional Judaism favors the rabbi’s first instinct. You could say that it follows the one rule of improv comedy: “Yes and”.

The foundational book of Judaism is the Talmud. In truth, it is less a book than an edited multigenerational discussion. In the Tractate or volume called Bava Kama on folio 85, it says as follows:

''ורפא ירפא'' (שמות כא', יט') מכאן שניתנה רשות לרופא לרפאות.

It quotes from Exodus 21/19. That scripture says that a person who strikes his fellow is obligated to pay for the cost of nursing him back to health.

So, the Talmud says, from this we understand that it is permissible for a doctor to heal. For if this was not permissible, obviously there would be no obligation for this man to pay to heal his fellow.

The Tosafists, who studied the Talmud in France in the 12-13th Centuries expound on that, that once it is established that it is permissible, what stems from that is that it is actually obligatory. Because, elsewhere it has been established that saving a life is so important that one is obligated to transgress almost any commandment in order to save a life.

At the same time the Talmud tells us in Tractate Bava Batra on folio 116:

כל שיש לו חולה בתוך ביתו ילך אצל חכם ויבקש עליו רחמים.

Whoever has an ill person in his home, he should go to a wise man and have him beg for mercy on his behalf.

And the Amidah, the central prayer around which each Jewish worship service is built includes this blessing:

רְפָאֵנוּ ה' וְנֵרָפֵא, הוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ וְנִוָּשֵׁעָה, כִּי תְהִלָּתֵנוּ אָתָּה,
וְהַעֲלֵה רְפוּאָה שְׁלֵמָה לְכֹל מַכּוֹתֵינוּ.
כִּי אֵל מֶלֶך רוֹפֵא נֶאֱמָן וְרַחֲמָן אָתָּה.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', רוֹפֵא חוֹלֵי עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל.

Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed, save us and we shall be saved, for You are our praise. Bring complete healing to all our wounds, for You are God and King, the faithful and merciful healer. Blessed are You, O Lord, Who heals the sick of his people Israel.

So, once again, traditional Judaism favors the rabbi’s first instinct: Not either/or, but yes and.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Capable of So Much More Together

Saturday evening, I officiated Lauren and Michael’s wedding ceremony, via Zoom, in North Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their handful of Zoom guests:


I ask every couple why they want to get married. Anyone else asking this would be considered quite rude. I mean, imagine walking into the office Monday morning, after your boyfriend, now fiancé, proposed and you accepted. You go up to Susan, your coworker, and show her the ring. She’s supposed to warmly hug you and gush, “Congratulations! Tell me all about the proposal!” Instead, she says, “Why?” Awkward!

Of course, Susan being crossed off your Christmas/Chanukah card list aside, it is an important question for each person to answer. And, luckily, in the context of planning a meaningful wedding ceremony, I can ask this question.

What I like about Lauren and Michael’s answers is that they do not shy away from the fact that relationships aren’t all gumdrops and sunshine. They are hard work. If your answer to why marry does not acknowledge that, if you really think that every moment of your marriage is going to be amazing, we really need to talk.

What Lauren and Michael tell us is that through their relationship, through the hard work they have put in to build it, they have found the sum total of their relationship is amazing. Spoiler alert: Everyone’s answer to the why question needs to be some form of this answer. I wish every couple got it like Lauren and Michael did.

Michael says, “There are always ups and downs in relationships, but in Lauren I found a fiercely loyal partner that is somehow more beautiful on the inside than she is on the outside. To this day I still pinch myself and wonder how I got so lucky.” 

And Lauren articulates this concept, so perfectly: “We… keep each other honest and challenge each other to be better, but at the end of the day accept each other for who we are now. We… let each other down at times, but we always grow and learn… It took time to be comfortable with ourselves and that we are enough for each other… Time has shown us both how much we love each other (and) that we are capable of so much more together than apart.”

That is the answer right there; that is the reason to marry: We are capable of so much more together than apart. We should all be so lucky.

Monday, March 23, 2020

A Jew, a Christian, a Hindu and a Muslim

Every now and then people ask me what my favorite wedding was. I’m smart enough not to answer that one, LOL. (If I officiated your wedding, you know it was yours!) Of course, most memorable is a very different issue, because some circumstances are different than others.

Roshni and Kelly were originally going to have a small wedding ceremony in April. With the situation as fluid as it is, they decided to move things up. They called me Saturday to ask if I could officiate their wedding on Sunday.


I first texted back to verify that they would be following CDC guidelines and the rules the Governor put in place of limiting social gatherings to 10 people. They were doing even better; there would be no more than six people there, including me and a photographer.

When I spoke with them Saturday, Kelly joked that we should find an open mosque, because a rabbi marrying a Hindu and a Christian in a mosque would mean we had our bases completely covered.

Luckily, the photographer they found (pictured below), also on Saturday, Urooj of Urooj Photography, is not only extremely talented, but a Muslim!

So, yes, on Sunday, in the shadow of COVID-19, a Jew, a Christian, a Hindu and a Muslim did NOT walk into a bar, nor could they because all bars are closed. Instead, they went to Adriatica Village and the Christian and the Hindu walked out of there married!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

True Essence

This last Sunday, I officiated Alex and Max’s wedding ceremony at the Filter Building, Dallas, Texas. (The wedding was held in a fashion that conformed to health guidelines in place at that time.) Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

In fairy tales characters sometimes use a test to discover their true love. Think of the glass slipper in Cinderella. Even the Bible includes a test that our matriarch Rebecca was put through to see if she was worthy for our patriarch Isaac. And, of course, no less a cultural icon than Madonna famously sang, “Put your love to the test.”


Now, Alex doesn’t describe what she put Max through as a test, but it sounds awfully similar. Spoiler alert, in case you were unclear on what we were doing here today, he passed. Listen to Alex:

“On our third or fourth date, he came over to my house for some drinks after we had gone out to dinner. I already knew I was really into Max, but as it turned out, my dog was OBSESSED with him. She would not leave him alone and insisted on sitting on the couch next to him with her head on his shoulder for most of the time he was over. It was not just Maddie’s obvious love for Max that made me start to realize how amazing he was, but Max’s reaction to Maddie really stole my heart. He was so sweet with her and just pet her while she totally invaded his personal space. He even let her kiss his face, which I have since found out he is not that big a fan of.”

Now, you might wonder why this theme that Alex and Max exhibited early in their relationship is found so frequently in literature, be it fairy tales, scripture or songs by Eighties pop singers, who have since adopted weird British accents. It’s simple, really. We may court differently today than we did 35 years ago, in medieval Europe or in Biblical times, however the goal is the same: We are trying to present OURSELVES in the best possible light, while discovering the true essence of the other person, which seems like an exercise at cross purposes with itself. So, we’re not trying to trap or trick the other person, we just want to know their true selves.

Then, ideally, when we find that person whose true essence is good and kind and well reflects and complements ours, we too can be ourselves. This is what Alex and Max found. Don’t take my word for it, listen to Max:

“I genuinely feel at ease and like my true self around Alex. This is not a small deal, as I am pretty introverted... There are very few people I feel that level of comfort with... I am drained after significant interaction, but Alex does not drain me. In fact, Alex does the opposite of drain me. She relaxes and reassures me when I need it, and she inspires and energizes me when I need that...”

Max has had the same effect on Alex: “I feel like my confidence has grown since I’ve been with him because he has made me more comfortable with being myself and realizing that what I am thinking is worthy of being stated or heard, even if I feel that it is not good enough to say out loud.”

This type of relationship is so deep that it is embodied by what Max says, but what you know is a mutual feeling: “Alex is totally comfortable with who I am. This is related to feeling comfortable being my true self around her. She sees and knows me more than anyone and she loves me for who I am...” My friends, we should all be so lucky.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Spiritual Reverence

Friday evening, I officiated Jess and Daniel’s wedding ceremony at Event1013 in Plano, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

One of the things that struck me about Jess and Daniel, from the first moment I met them, is that they are very spiritual people. As Daniel says, “I’m still on this spiritual journey of faith.” This journey has been nourished by their relationship. As Jess says, “When I met Daniel his love for God shined so bright. And I started knowing God through my relationship with Daniel.” In that context, Daniel’s framing of the genesis of as well as the ongoing aspects of their relationship is instructive. “Meeting Jess has been a blessing. I’m excited to see where our path will take us,” he says.

There is something profound in the second half of that statement. You see, in marriage we affirm that not only does the I of today love the you of today, but that my love of you and my knowledge of you makes me confident enough to state that the I of tomorrow will love the you of tomorrow just as deeply. In marriage we affirm that though we cannot predict the future, our love will remain, and the blessing shall endure. 


This is just one of the reasons the Ancient Rabbis saw God’s work in this process. They arrived at this through asking a question: In the Bible, God is extremely busy in a very visible way. He’s creating the world and striking the Egyptians with plagues. He’s parting the Red Sea first and the River Jordan next. He’s raining fire on Elijah’s altar, and saving his servant, Daniel, from the lions. He doesn’t really do any of that flashy stuff anymore. What has he been doing with his time, ask the Rabbis?

They tell us that he spends most of his time playing matchmaker, helping soulmates, like Jess and Daniel, find each other, so they may fall in love, build relationships together, and marry.

The timing of Jess and Daniel’s wedding follows a meaningful spiritual tradition too. Jews in the Russian Empire were confined to a specific area called the Pale of Settlement. They lived in the shtetls, small villages, immortalized in Fiddler on the Roof. They could not own land and were confined to mostly low-paying professions, which kept many of them in perpetual poverty, if not outright serfdom.

It was, therefore, not uncommon to marry on Friday afternoon, so the usual festive Friday night Sabbath meal could double as the festive meal that accompanies a wedding. This is what we might call today a money saving hack.

There was and is, however, something very spiritually appropriate about this timing too. In fact, every Friday night, Jews the world over greet the Sabbath as a bride, with these words of a medieval mystical poem, “Come my friend, toward the bride; let us greet the Sabbath.” Indeed, The Sabbath enriches and restores a person’s soul, as does marriage, and marriage gives us a taste of paradise, as does the Sabbath.

Jess and Daniel, what we wish for you is that the same spiritual reverence with which you enter your marriage and enter tonight’s Sabbath remain with you, that it continue to enrich your souls and that through it you receive your own taste of paradise. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

There’s an App for That!

Sunday afternoon, I officiated Christie and Alan’s wedding ceremony at the Verona Villa, in Frisco, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

How did we arrive here today? Like in most cases today, through an app that connected Christie and Alan. No judgment, but at this point in history, if a couple didn’t meet through an app, people raise an eyebrow. What? You met at a bar/at work/at the gym?! How eclectic!

Of course, there is some dispute regarding where the app was, and who used it, in this case. Christie and Alan say it was on their phone, and they used it. Alan’s mom disagrees. She says the app was a little more analog, shall we say, and it was all her doing. That’s right; she followed an ancient Jewish custom and placed a written prayer request on a note in the crevices of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Now, I haven’t seen the analytics on that specific app, but if history is any indication, it’s way better than any Mickey Mouse phone app, so put me down in mom’s column on this question!  


Now, going a little analog, shall we say, is a theme in the maturation of Christie and Alan into the well-rounded persons they are today. They both admit that they were a little hard charging, before they learned to slow down. 

Christie says, “All through college I worked, I studied, I grew into the person I was working to be. I never took a summer off. I squeezed my entire bachelor’s into three years and graduated having already worked a year into my first job. I always felt like I had to be ahead of my peers. Most likely, because I had this drive to become the best version of myself, I could be. And to me, that was limitless, and still is very much today... 

Today, I still strive for the future, because it is so damn exciting, but also, I have… learned to find peace in the now. I have recently learned to slow down, enjoy the little things and the big things that life throws at us. From every ‘I love you’ from Alan to every morning run…”

Alan says, “Being so family centric put me on the road to search for someone to love from an early age. Thoughts like, ‘One day I’ll have a strong, healthy, respectful love with my wife, like my parents do, to raise a happy family…’ were deeply ingrained in me from an early age…” As a consequence, he says, “Throughout my relationships over the years I attempted to force myself to fall in love… I failed in each attempt and burned out.”

So, Alan gave it a three year hiatus, and then due to whatever app it was that connected him to Christie, he says, “I decided to go with the flow (which is very unlike me) and that is where I found my soon-to-be wife.” He adds that when Christie arrived at their first date, “I thought she was too pretty to be my date, but when she came up to me and confirmed that she was, in fact my date, I was stunned. The date went exceedingly well; we had a wonderful conversation and were even approached by an elderly couple asking what anniversary we were celebrating because we looked so happy together.” That definitely qualifies as old school analog!

So, the lesson for today is pretty simple, friends, follow the example of Christie and Alan: Plan for the future, do your very best to make it happen, but don’t forget to slow down and go with the flow. That type of balanced approach will take you far…

Sunday, January 12, 2020

My Person

Saturday evening, I officiated Brooke and Eric’s wedding ceremony at the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center in Plano, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I always ask couples how they found me. Sometimes they went searching on the internet, sometimes their wedding planner referred them to me, and sometimes a friend recommended me. And, sometimes, they were actual guests at a wedding I officiated. That is how Brooke and Eric found me. I officiated their friends, Rachel and Mark’s wedding.

Here is where things get really interesting, though. They, specifically, cited something I said during these personal remarks that they felt described not only Rachel and Mark, but them too. That is the concept of someone being, “my person.”


Faith Fishkin writes, “The term ‘my person’ originated from the show ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ My own personal definition is the person you go to for everything, the person you can’t live without, the person you can’t stay mad at, and the person that supports you in everything that you do. Being someone’s ‘person’ is a commitment. There is a very big difference between being someone’s boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend and being someone’s person. When someone is your person, you have such a deep connection and understanding of one another -- you pretty much know each other like the back of your hand.”

Now, true enough, your “person” need not necessarily be the same as your romantic partner. However, sometimes, as is the case with Brooke and Eric, you hit the jackpot, and you get both in one tidy package.

One way in which to use Fishkin’s words, Brooke and Eric support each other in everything they do is in their approach to their Judaism. You see, there can be different approaches to following your faith tradition. You can follow it because you believe God told you to. You can follow it because it is part of your tradition.

However, there is an approach that takes this one step further. Some people ask, why did God tell me to do this or what utility is there in observing this thing that is part of my tradition? Brooke and Eric ask this question. Brooke speaks for both of them, when she gives this answer: “My involvement in the Jewish community… has helped me understand the importance of community and the power of being with others in our tradition. It is through my Judaism that I have learned to do acts of kindness and mitzvot on a daily basis. In the future, I hope to expand my roots and I pray that Eric and I will be able to pass these values onto our children. As the years go on, I look forward to continuing to live a meaningful life elevated by my Judaism.”

My friends, let us all find inspiration in these words, and let us strive for, in Brooke’s words, “a meaningful life elevated,” by whatever tradition, philosophy or approach we live by.