Different Clocks for Different Folks

22480536_SLove comes in all shapes and sizes, and every relationship possesses its own clock, meaning that only the two involved in the relationship know how to make it tick. That’s why relationships are so exciting – they take a lot of work, but when you find the right person and connect with the clock inside their chest, it’s as if all of time stops and it feels like you’re floating with your significant other through life, and that’s a beautiful feeling.

But like I said above, love comes in all shapes and sizes, and that means different strokes for different folks. Take for example recent news regarding superstar NFL quarterback Russell Wilson and his girlfriend, pop superstar, Ciara.

As reported in the Sporting News, “Wilson, a man of strong faith, told McPherson (a pastor) a story about telling a friend that Ciara was the girl we wanted to be with before he ever met her. The discussion about his personal life continued with Wilson explaining how he and Ciara plan to practice abstinence until they’re married.”

In Wilson’s words, “God told me to lead her.”

It’s no surprise that his comments have left many people scratching their heads. We live in an overly sexualized world, but at Atlanta Jewish and Interfaith Weddings, I believe that every relationship is unique and Russell Wilson’s situation is no different. Different clocks for different folks. What do you think?

With the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage, We Are Entering a Real Summer of Love

31298043_SWe did it! In a landmark decision that will surely change the face of these United States, the U.S. Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage. This means that gay marriage will be recognized in each and every state. At Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings, we couldn’t be happier. For decades I’ve been officiating same sex marriage because love is universal and everyone deserves a chance in exploring that wondrous land to the fullest.

Due to the life changing decision, people’s happiness were exploding into the streets, out of the cracks, into the interstates of social media, rolling down the information superhighway – #lovewins was trending everywhere, with even President Obama and the White House partaking in the celebration. No better did we see this than on Friday night when the White House was lit up in pride colors to celebrate the decision. Adorned in the colors of the rainbow, the White House suddenly became a symbol of love, a pillared version of an open heart in which everyone can walk in and feel loved. Isn’t that what America is all about? Isn’t that what the forefathers imagined when they broke away from that tyrannical crown?

Needless to say, this is exactly what America needs. It has been a rough time being an American. With all the inequality and violence sweeping the headlines, it’s nice to see something that lifts up the soul and makes the eyes water out of happiness. #lovewins needed to happen, because when #lovewins, we all win.

16638578_SWhen you think of the Summer of Love, what do you think of – maybe the year 1967, when people from all walks of life converged onto San Francisco to celebrate life and love? While that was a momentous event in America’s history, representing a paradigm shift from the turtle necked fifties to the socially liberating sixties, and into the neon seventies, I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet. Given the Supreme Court’s decision regarding same-sex marriage, I believe that we’re truly entering a Summer of Love, the likes of which has never been seen in this country.

Now that gay marriage is recognized in every state of the union, people will be rushing to get married, to at long last solidify the feelings that have been in their hearts for years. With such momentum, love will be taken to new and exciting heights. Take, for example, this heartwarming story that was making the rounds on social media the other day. Jack Evans and George Harris, 85 yr old and 82 yr old respectively, were finally legally married after 54 years together. How beautiful  is that? They were also the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Dallas County.

Some of the comments on Facebook provide an almost-gospel for 2015’s Summer of Love. One comment, “how can anyone hate this, this is the cutest thing ever. these men loved each other way back when their love was forbidden.” Another, “AFTER 54 YEARS TOGETHER! JUST NOW being able to marry legally! God love them. And He DOES!” Another, “I don’t care if you’re two humans or two plants. If you’re still in love and together after 54 years you should be able to be legally married! I’m so glad they were able to make it happen before these two died of old age!”

Let the Summer of Love begin! It will be one for the record books.


The Memory of Leo Frank Burns in America’s Heart and Brain

11164570_796136343813856_7583764035314947052_nIn these times of somewhat growing equality in the United States, with gay marriage slowly becoming a more recognized and accepted idea in most segments in the country, we seem to be living in the most equal of times. This of course is exciting, but it’s a case of two steps forward and one step back as we see rampant inequality in places like Ferguson and Charleston, which results in the most heinous of crimes. My heart grieves for Charleston and the people affected by that gross tragedy.

What gives America? What’s your problem? It seems we’re on a surreal seesaw, certainly a mix of hopefulness and tragedy. It is times like these that it’s beneficial for us to remember the people from the past who have helped us get to where we are, people like Leo Frank. His story must not go untold.

Leo Frank was a Jewish man lynched in Cobb County, GA in 1915, the last image of him being “dressed in only a nightshirt, his neck broken by the noose, his lifeless body dangling from a tree as townspeople rejoiced.” That image became an iconic illustration of Southern anti-Semitism and hatred.

Why was Leo Frank lynched?

Well, he was “convicted” of murdering a 13-year-old white girl who worked in the factory he managed. The murder and subsequent case was a melting pot of class, race, and religious conflicts, and is an ugly example of America’s turbulent history. Anti-Semitism played a gigantic role in his lynching. He was wrongly treated and judged throughout the entire process, and is an example of a justice system that is flawed and ripping at the seams.

I have spent the past several decades doing my best to raise Frank’s profile and to secure a much-deserved pardon. Again, his story must not go untold and his good, wrongly accused name must not go unpreserved. My efforts, along with several others, have succeeded in erecting two plaques on the side of an office building closest to the believed site of Frank’s lynching.

Unfortunately, the majority of Atlanta’s Jews (and that of America’s) do not know the story of Leo Frank. In fact, Americans in general (regardless of religion) do not know the story of Leo Frank. His lynching re-energized the Anti-Defamation League, which went on to become (and continues to be) the most important American Jewish organization in the country, battling bigotry, intolerance, and more.

The memory of Leo Frank burns in America’s heart and brain, because it’s a question we all struggle with on a daily basis – is America more equal than it was yesterday? Or is it slipping down the slope toward bigotry, class warfare, discrimination, and more? It’s a struggle that keeps some people awake at night as they look out onto the city or town they live in, and that suffering, so covered up during the day, sounds as if it’s screaming into a megaphone. It’s a blast to the heart that can knock anyone off their feet. Many times in my own life I have felt that rushing wind of intolerance and many times I have been knocked off my own feet. None of us should ever be knocked off our feet.

It’s a crisis that pounds us into submission with each breath we take. Every time we turn on the TV, we are bombarded by horrifying news stories that breaks our hearts and crushes our spirits. While there are a few bright flowers in this garden of darkness, such as more tolerance for homosexuals and their quest for marriage, the darkness is gaining momentum – poisoning young minds and seeping into every crack in our society. There are riots on the streets, cops and civilians going head to head, churches where prayers are noised out by gunshots. There is suffering everywhere we look and the memory of Leo Frank burns in America’s heart and brain.

Where do we go from here? Keeping Leo Frank at the forefront of our minds, I would like to see an age of love entering the American consciousness, where people do their best to try to understand one another, to look one another straight in the eye and say “I want to know what makes you tick and if you’re not ticking, let me know what I can do to make you tick.”

It’s all about opening up one another’s heart, using good-natured hieroglyphics to decipher our deepest dreams, our deepest desires, our burning hopes for the future. Let’s do that. It’s what Leo would have wanted.


The Importance of Smiling on Your Big Day

Marraige Equality Jewish Lesbian RabbiIt’s the day you’ve waited for your entire life. You’ve found your partner in eternal love, the food has been tasted, and the vows are perfectly crafted for a lifetime of happiness. It’s time to leave all that stress of the past few months behind and walk down that isle with a smile that says forever upon your face.

At Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings I am here to give you the confidence to feel every laugh, to be well prepared, and smile when that final “I do” is spoke.

Happiness is trending, just ask wedding photographer Bre Thurston from The Huffington Post. “You’re head over heels in love with another person and you get to spend the rest of your life with them. Celebrate that, feel that. And laugh.”

Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings knows how important it is to feel like your wedding is trending. From our first meeting to the ceremony itself I strive to create a trend of happiness that will last a lifetime. Everyone deserves equality when it comes to love, no matter what the circumstance. I promise to show you the dedication and commitment you deserve to have you smiling throughout your big day and for life.

Changing People’s Beliefs by Talking to Them

10246318_SMarriage equality, unfortunately, is a hot button issue for many people in this country. In order to support or diminish the efforts of either pro-gay marriage advocates or traditionalists, there have been many studies coming out and floating in the social air. One such story was widely covered and reported on. You may have even read about it or seen it in the news. The study focused on the idea “that gay political canvassers could change conservative voters’ views on same-sex marriage,” as reported in The New York Times and other publications.

The premise behind the study is a simple one: to see if people’s attitudes regarding gay marriage would change after a 20-minute conversation. The study was prompted after Proposition 8 was passed in California, which banned same-sex marriage. Dave Fleischer, member of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, wanted to see how effective door-to-door campaigning would be. In other words, could gay canvassers and not straight ones affect the opinions of people against gay marriage by simply talking to them?

According to the study, yes – gay canvassers could bring about change by simply talking to people. That result made the newspaper rounds and voila, it became viral. However, that was not the case, as the study was later retracted due to lack of scientific proof. This announcement was met with disappointment, and rightfully so, but let’s not ignore the fact that the study highlighted an important and often-forgotten part of being human: the act of talking to your fellow man. That’s how true understanding is reached!

Ireland May Become the First Country to Approve Gay Marriage by Popular Vote

9453895_SAt Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings, we believe that everyone deserves an equal chance at love. Thankfully, marriage in the United States has certainly become more equal over the past few years. It still, however, has a long way to go – as does many other areas in the world, in countries like Ireland for example. That might soon change though, and the effects may forever alter our idea of what a Catholic country is and what it should strive for. We may witness a watershed moment in Ireland’s history.

On Friday, May 22 (yes, that’s today!), Irish citizens will vote on changing their constitution so that marriage by law between two people wouldn’t depend on sex, meaning that two guys or two women would be able to marry. If it goes through, and there’s a good chance that it does (according to recent polls), then Ireland will become the first country in the world to approve gay marriage through a popular vote, which is different than by legislation or the judicial process. This is, of course, a big deal for two reasons: 1) first country to approve gay marriage by popular vote and 2) the idea of Catholicism might be changing.

Atlanta Jewish Marriage Equality Rabbi OfficiantAt Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings, we support Irish citizens and their desire for marriage equality and encourage the evolving role that religion plays in our lives. These are certainly exciting times! Is Catholicism changing for the better? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/05/22/ireland-votes-in-gay-marriage-referendum/27764489/

The Concept of Marriage Evolves

36946568_SMarriage is all the rage nowadays, the talk on everyone’s lips, which is good to see, but some are using it more as a political platform. Trevor Burrus of The Washington Post points this out in his article, “Conservatives say marriage has always been between a man and a woman. They’re wrong.” Of course, they’re wrong, but the article is a stirring reminder of the evolutionary power of what a marriage is, what it should be, and how it windmills love throughout the entire country, from coast to coast.

Burrus writes, “Marriage is a constantly changing social institution that adapts to social and economic conditions. And when those conditions change, marriage changes.” Well said! That’s the thing that’s beautiful about marriage – of course, it’s about the love, but its fluidity, its openness to change is a heroic reminder that we as people can change as well. Marriage isn’t a mountain, fixed in its shape and location, but rather it’s a body of water, moving back and forth, ebbing and flowing.

Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings stands by Burrus’s article – we work with couples of every creed and color, believing marriage to be one of the most beautiful things we can experience in life, and it deserves to be experienced by all people. After all, marriage is sacred, which means it changes throughout time to suit the inherent loveliness and goodness in our hearts. Marriage is about bringing people together, not tearing us apart.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/05/13/conservatives-say-marriage-has-always-been-between-a-man-and-a-woman-theyre-wrong/

The Importance of Wedding Vows

18351356_SThere are many important parts to a wedding, but perhaps none more special or organic than the wedding vows. Yes – the wedding vows, the words expressed between two lovers that encapsulate their relationship – the hopes, the fears, the existential quirks. It’s the only moment that both parties can become poets, drilling their words into the air so that they may be remembered for all of their lives. At Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings, I earnestly believe that wedding vows should be treated with care and patience, like a graduate dissertation. This is your moment in the sun, happy couples, so soak in those rays and transform your feelings into Shakespearean sonnets.

That’s how it was for Marshall Cannon of The Huffington Post. He writes, “As we enter into the traditional summer wedding season in the United States, I wanted to share the vows that I wrote and think about how I can continue remember those words in my everyday life.” I encourage all of you to read his vows here, as they’re truly special and endearing, but what I think is more important is what the vows mean to Marshall – that they’re like daily fortune cookies that reminds him of his love for his wife and the appreciation he has for living. Think of your wedding vows as poems, as words that you’ll remember every day of your life.

At Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings, I’d be more than happy to help you compose your wedding vows or offer some suggestions to make them great.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marshall-cannon/marriage-vow-to-remember_b_7285706.html

Coping with the Loss of a Loved One

18635935_SIn addition to officiating weddings, we also offer traditional Jewish funeral services. And while we can take care of everything in regards to the service itself, we understand that coping with a loss can be a difficult experience, especially when a close friend or family member is the one who passed. Fortunately, there are several things you can do that can help you cope with grief, and although there is no easy fix, there are ways to make this trying time a little bit less difficult.

One of the most important things you should do is ask for help and support. This is especially true if you’ve lost someone very close to you who not many members of your family or friends knew. So while they may not be grieving with you, they can at least be there to comfort you and take care of you. Of course, there are other places to turn to besides just your loved ones. You can also rely on your faith, join a support group, and even seek help from a grief counselor.

Taking care of yourself is also an important step to take when it comes to dealing with a heavy loss. While you may not feel like eating or doing much of anything at all, it’s important to stay healthy and as positive as possible. You shouldn’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and you should actively look for ways to express your feelings, perhaps even turning to a creative outlet.

Finally, it’s important to understand that grief may never go away completely. You will always miss the loved one who has passed, but eventually you will be able to turn it into a positive thing by remembering the memories you had and finding ways to honor the time the time you spent together.