B’nai Jeshurun wedding of Alan & Robert | New York, NY

Alan and Robert have been together and in love for 18 years and wanted their day to be sacred, celebratory and festive. They were surrounded by an incredible community of friends and family, who gathered for a thoughtful and unique ceremony – inspired by the couple’s Jewish faith and infused with their personal vision.

Below is some insight into just how much care and thought went into their day. Enjoy!

From Alan and Robert’s wedding program: “Our wedding is inspired by Jewish tradition. Of course, there is not ‘one way’ in Jewish tradition; wedding ceremonies differ based on level of observance, cultural history, and myriad other things. One pretty obvious ‘thing’ is that there is a not a particularly long Jewish tradition of marriages between people of the same sex. Same-sex marriage in the US was first legalized in Massachusetts in 2004, in New York in 2011, and finally nationally with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. We are able to get married today because of the tireless work of activists who fought for this human right for decades. As we celebrate, we stand in solidarity with LGBTQ people in over 165 countries (out of 195 countries in the world) where marriage equality has yet to be achieved.”


blog02“The star of the nissuin (Hebrew for ‘marriage’) ceremony, the chuppah symbolizes the household the couple will create together and recalls the biblical Abraham who kept his tents open on all sides so that visitors would know they were welcome. To recognize the life that we already have built together over 18 years, we are marrying under a tablecloth we bought in Ethiopia on a trip with our dear friends Aliza Mazor and Yihun Mazor. We take pride in the indelible stains on the cloth that remind us of having hosted many meals.”


“When we arrive at the chuppah we will drape each other with a white chikan-style (Hindi for “embroidery”) shawl made from fabric from Lucknow, India, purchased by Robert on his first visit to India. For us, this shawl symbolizes our freedom to choose marriage, in contrast to the millions of adolescent girls in India, Sub-Saharan Africa, and elsewhere who are forced into early marriages. The white shawl also connects to the tradition of wearing a kittel (Yiddish for a white cotton robe) on one’s wedding day, that serves as a symbol of purity and reinforces the connection to Yom Kippur, when some choose to wear a kittel, too. The kittel is also reminiscent of the burial shroud, which symbolizes the lasting bond of marriage. And just as the absence of pockets in the burial shroud indicates that a person takes nothing material after death, the pocket-less kittel (and our shawl) emphasizes that we accept each other for who we are, and not for our possessions. We have chosen to include and adjust this custom to emphasize the sacredness of our wedding day.”


“The sheva brachot (Hebrew for ‘seven blessings’) are traditionally recited during nissuin. As some of these blessings reflect a traditional bride-groom paradigm, we have chosen a different approach, which retains the seven but reflects our reality. (Number seven plays an important role in Judaism – the Sabbath, the Sabbatical year, and the year of jubilee are all based on it.) We have asked relatives and friends to recite blessings that they have composed based on the shevat haminim (Hebrew for ‘the seven species’). Mentioned in Deuteronomy – ‘A land of wheat and barley, of vines (grapes), figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey (dates)’ – the shevat haminim have ethical values associated with each, and for us they symbolize our dependence on the earth as the source of life, our commitment to protecting the planet for future generations, and our hope that Israel – the land of this bounty – lives up to its promise as envisioned by its Declaration of Independence.”



For their ketubah they chose an egalitarian text, which we they called their  brit ahuvim (Hebrew for “covenant of lovers”), and signed it themselves. The colorful kippot were made of a popular African fabric called shweshwe (Xhosa language), by an artisan empowerment enterprise in Cape Town, South Africa, where Robert was born.



Ceremony and reception venue: B’nai Jeshurun
Officiant: Rabbi Shuli Passow
Catering: Judy Marlow and Ande Panton of Simply Divine
Cake: Julie Horowitz – Schweetums
Coordinator: Carrie Newman
Flowers: Shula Wiener – Flowers By Special Arrangement
Reception venue:
Cake: Julie Horowitz – Schweetums
Invitations: Jeremy Scanlan Bank
Kippot: Marion Lange (Cape Town) in collaboration with African Home
Om Shalom Trio
Jessie Reagen Mann, Cellist and Musical Coordinator
Abhik Mukherjee, Sitar
Ranendra Das, Tabla/percussion
Tali Rubinstein, Recorders
Amanda Monaco, Guitar
Matt Darriau, Kaval/clarinet/saxaphone
• Rich Stein, Drums/percussion