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Spilling out Wine: An Eighth Blessing for the Wedding of a Man and Woman, which Affirms Same-Sex Relationships

In the course of planning our wedding my partner, Steven, and I looked closely at Jewish wedding prayers and blessings. We came face to face with a painful contradiction between our love for our gay and lesbian friends and relatives, and our attachment to Jewish wedding liturgy—which is blatantly heterosexist.

In an attempt to reconcile our feelings of emotional (and ethical) conflict, we wrote the following text for our wedding. We felt that it was important to both affirm and challenge Judaism.

The traditional Seven Blessings—recited at Jewish weddings—compare the joy of every bride and groom to the primordial wholeness of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. These blessings express the idea that each union between a man and a woman brings us closer to the time of Redemption. The blessings conclude with drinking a full cup of wine to symbolize the joy of union.

We feel that we can only drink a full cup of joy when the union of all lovers is celebrated. We will only feel a sense of wholeness when same-sex couples are also able to enjoy the legal, social and religious privileges that are being extended to us on this holy day. We have therefore added an eighth blessing to the traditional Seven Blessings, as well as an additional cup of wine. Akin to taking ten drops of wine out of our glasses during the Passover seder, when we recite the Ten Plagues (acknowledging that all losses require our empathy), we diminish one full cup of joy in recognition that the world is not yet complete.

The added eighth blessing reminds us that as partners in Creation we must strive toward a garden in which there is a place for all loving relationships. We recite this blessing after the Seven Blessings, while pouring out a cup of wine onto the ground or into a vessel. Then, we drink joy from another cup of wine.

Blessing

You are blessed, Adonai our God, Source of Life,
who enables us to strive toward the devotion of Jonathan and David,
the life-sharing of Ruth and Naomi,
and the commitment of Jacob and Rachel.
May the time come soon when the voices of all lovers,
the music of all friendships, will rise up to be heard and
celebrated in the gates of our cities.
May the time come soon when we can all drink a full cup of joy.
Blessed are You, Source of Love.

Originally published in LILITH, Winter, 1995; used by permission of the author, Deborah Eisenbach-Budner.