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Jul 8 2014

How My Wedding Made Me Feel More Jewish and More Gay

By at 12:36 pm

gay jewish wedding

So, a rabbi, a Hindu doctor, and two lesbians walk into a country club…

It’s not the start of a joke, but a few years ago people would have been laughing at the idea that this was the start of a wedding story.

My relationship began just a few days before Prop 8 passed in California (I had only been in heterosexual relationships up until that point). I remember driving on the freeway in Los Angeles and hearing the news that the proposition had unexpectedly passed and that gay marriage, which had been legal for four months in California, was now illegal. I wasn’t anywhere near ready to be married at that point, but I remember thinking to myself for the first time in my life: so, this is what bigotry feels like. Read the rest of this entry →

Is It Too Early to Call My Baby a Girl?

By at 10:14 am

baby in turtle pajamas

I don’t like surprises.

That’s how I explained our decision to find out, as early as possible, if we were having a boy or a girl. And as soon as the verdict was in, out it went on Facebook and into excited texts to our parents. My mother-in-law found out while she was in an airplane, en route to Maine for Christmas, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she told the whole plane.

So there you have it, right? Penrose is a girl. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 12 2014

How Being the Rabbi’s Gay Son Taught Me to Be a Good Dad

By at 4:53 pm

raj-castro-pic-(1)

I was 2 years old when everything changed. My father, who was not yet 30, was a rabbi at a synagogue in Budapest. After multiple harassments, he decided with my mother that America would be a much better place to practice freedom of religion and raise a family. My parents told family and friends that we were vacationing in Yugoslavia when, in fact, we had no intention of ever going back. It was 1972 and we were escaping communist Hungary, the threat of imprisonment looming over my parents’ shoulders.

We arrived in the United States a few months later, settling in Brooklyn, New York, where my father would learn English and audition as an assistant rabbi at a Reform synagogue. For our part, my sister and I went with the flow, assimilating into American culture. We spent most days like those of our classmates at the Jewish day school we attended. Other days were different, after all, we were the immigrant rabbi’s kids.

The author and his family arriving in America.

The author and his family arriving in America.

 

Being the rabbi’s son seemed normal, maybe privileged at times. In some ways, I felt like a child star with a couple hundred fans. My father’s congregants doted on me as if I were their own. I attributed this affection as kindness, and probably much of it was. As I grew older, I recognized that part of this behavior was their way to get closer to my father. In some cases, it was to satisfy their natural curiosity about the “Man of God,” who is also a family man, their spiritual leader, marital counselor, and advisor.

Read the rest of this entry →

May 23 2014

Pennsylvania Just Became Better for Same-Sex Families–And The Rest of Us

By at 11:48 am

LGBTQ-flag

I was watching “Frozen” with my 3-year-old daughter when I heard the news: the Pennsylvania ban on same-sex marriage was overturned! My Facebook feed exploded with cries of “Mazel tov,” as well as, “Finally, PA,” and, “Welcome to the 21st Century.” This was big news, and not just in an abstract, I believe in equality and social justice kind of way. This was news with measurable impact on people I care about, news with the gravitas of, “I remember where I was when I found out.”

That means, I will always remember that I was watching “Frozen.” Disney’s latest blockbuster is being heralded by parents everywhere, even while they can’t stop singing, “Let it Go.” It’s notable for depicting princesses who defy the waiting-for-Prince Charming stereotypes, but it’s not quite defiant enough for my taste. One of the opening songs still has Princess Anna say, “What if I meet…the one?” I was as devoted a follower as anyone of “How I Met Your Mother,” so it’s not that I’m opposed to the concept of “the one” being portrayed in popular culture. Rather, I think that marriage doesn’t make sense as the primary plot device in a movie marketed towards kids who haven’t started kindergarten yet.

Even so, my daughter is no stranger to weddings, having already attended three in as many years. Last June, she attended the wedding of two of our family’s dear friends, and she talked about nothing for weeks before or after the celebration. Leading up to the wedding, we talked a lot about being quiet during the ceremony, giving gifts, and eating a special meal, but we made no mention of gender, even though the marriage was (and is!) between two women. To our then 2-year-old, a party was a party, and the particulars mattered not at all. Even now, even after seeing “Frozen,” when I asked her this afternoon, “What does ‘married’ mean?” she said, “It’s when people love each other.” Read the rest of this entry →

May 14 2014

Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Single Mom of Five, Explores Race, Class, and Unconventional Families in New Book

By at 2:00 pm
rabbi-julie-greenberg

Julie, as a new mother, with first born Rosi.

 

Rabbi Julie Greenberg is a mother of five, the founder of Mountain Meadow, a camp for children with LGBTQ parents, and was one of the first rabbis in the world to do same-sex weddings, to welcome interfaith couples and families, and to work closely with clergy from other faiths in co-officiations. We recently discussed her latest book, “Just Parenting: Building the World One Family at a Time,” about raising her five children by and large as a single parent with the help of sperm donors, adoption, women lovers, former lovers, and a gay male parenting partner.

She is graciously offering Kveller readers a discount on the book: just use the code “KVELL” at checkout here.

How is this book different from all other parenting books? Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 7 2014

What’s Your Exodus: Breaking Free from Hiding My Same-Sex Marriage & More Reader Responses

By at 3:37 pm

As Passover approaches, we asked our readers and writers: What do you need an exodus from? Today we hear from four Kveller readers as part of our “What’s Your Exodus?” series. 

From Rita Collins:

"what's your exodus?"

I think twice about telling co-workers or customers that I’m married to a person of the same sex when I meet them. When they talk freely about their spouses of the opposite sex sometimes I feel like I’m shackled by fear of their reaction, especially if they are very religious (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or otherwise). I need an exodus from my own self-conscious embarrassment that is only brought on by me. Some will support and some will treat me with disdain, but that isn’t the fear I need to be free from…it is the fear that the ones who treat me with disdain are right. I need to love openly with a full heart and know that they are wrong and then it won’t matter to me what they or anyone thinks. I’m a woman, and I love my wife and I love our children. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 30 2014

The Calm Before the Same-Sex Parenting Storm

By at 11:52 am

clock

My wife and I are planning to start trying to conceive in March, and suddenly, two months or less out, I find myself trying to freeze time. I don’t mean feeling immobilized or freaking out and not wanting that time to come. I mean that I am living in and enjoying every moment until then.

I’ve spent the past couple years agonizing over when we could have a baby. Not every second, of course. We were occupied with house-hunting, moving in and settling in, my conversion to Judaism. A lot of wonderful things have been happening, and we’ve had a great first couple of years of marriage. But I’ve also been acutely aware throughout of our financial struggles and goals as well as the complicated and expensive process of family-building for us as a same-sex couple, and that’s kept conception always just past the horizon. Now we have a realistic time frame and it’s right around the corner!

A first consultation and then following up on some initial fertility issues kept us busy and distracted throughout late fall and early winter. Now we’re just kind of…waiting. Waiting to get a little more money for this very expensive process so we don’t have to dip into savings or charge it or go on a payment plan. Waiting for our upcoming mandatory counseling session so we can be approved to order sperm.

And in the meantime, I am reveling in the smallest, sweetest details of domestic marital bliss. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 7 2013

Returning to the Mikveh After Giving Birth

By at 11:55 am

mikveh jewish ritual bathOnce a month when I was kid, I would watch my mother remove her nail polish, gather her small bag, and head out from home in our station wagon after dinner. We always knew where she was going.

Even though the ritual immersion (mikveh) traditional Jewish women do monthly is done at night and is considered a private affair, my brothers and I were pretty nosy, we lived in a small house, and my parents were very open. That and coming home from an appointment with wet hair at 9 or 10 p.m. was certain to elicit questions from little children. She always spoke about this time in the ritual bath so beautifully–the warm waters, the time alone, the space to think and feel whatever she did without the voice of my dad, her co-workers, or her children in her head. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 16 2013

We Proudly Present: The Purim Superhero

By at 9:50 am

the purim superhero

As you may have guessed, we’re huge fans of Jewish children’s books, which is why we were very excited to co-sponsor the launch of The Purim Superhero, the first LGBT-inclusive Jewish children’s book in English!

This book, written by Elisabeth Kushner and illustrated by Mike Byrne, was the winner of Keshet’s National Book-Writing Contest, and we couldn’t be happier to finally see it released from Kar-Ben Publishing.

So what’s it all about? Read the rest of this entry →

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