From queer text study and institutional inclusion to profiles of queer clergy and youth voices, the Keshet blog features new ideas and reflections by and for LGBTQ Jews and their allies. The blog is produced by Keshet, a national organization with offices in the Bay Area, Boston, and New York that works for full LGBTQ equality and inclusion in Jewish life.
Valentine’s Day came and went, and just like every year pink and red heart decorations everywhere reminded me just how single I am. I’ve been hearing a lot about self-love and self-compassion. What is that and how do you do it? I know nothing is wrong with being single, but this time of year it can feel pretty lonely.
Dear Chronically Single,
Self-love and self-compassion is, well, feeling love and compassion for one’s self. How does one “do it”? That’s entirely up to you. First of all, just because the film, music, and advertising industries (among others) have all done a very successful job in convincing all of us that being single is literally the worst thing ever ever ever, that’s not actually true.
I realize that as someone who has been in a relationship for the greater part of a decade, it’s rather easy for me to say this, but the truth is that there may not be a “one” for everyone. Not everybody partners off, and that’s completely okay; some of the happiest and most interesting seniors I know are those that never “settled down.” It is one of life’s uncertainties. This is where self-love comes into play.
Whether or not you are destined to spend your life with another person, there is one relationship that you will definitely be in your entire life, and that is the relationship you have with yourself. Self-love is not as simple as “learning to love yourself,” it’s also about becoming the version of yourself that is worth loving. If you aren’t happy with the way things are going in your life and the way that affects you as a person, then you need to change those aspects of your life. Trust me, this is no easy task, but I promise you that it is worth the rewards; it took me years to become someone worth my own love, let alone the love of others. You are the only person who will be on your side 100% of the time, so make sure you are worth it. Plus, self-awareness is a huge turn-on, and it will make you that much more attractive to potential partners. It is no accident that the times I was single in my life roughly coincided with the periods when I didn’t believe in myself like I should have.
Believing in You,
I’ve got my eye on a Jewish guy I know through friends. I’ve never dated anyone Jewish before, and I don’t actually know many Jews. (Interestingly enough, part of my family is Jewish, but I wasn’t raised to be observant, or with any real knowledge of Jewish culture or history). What should I know before I approach him?
Jew-ish and Looking
Dear Jew-ish and Looking,
What should you know before you approach this Jewish guy you are connected to? His name. Seriously. The rest you can discover by asking him yourself.
When I first read your question, it actually made me rather angry, because you are working under the assumption that all Jews have more or less the same experience; that my being Jewish is somehow related to his being Jewish. Then I realized that this may not entirely be your fault; the thing about being Jewish is that it is a rather unique identifier. It is simultaneously describing three things, without necessarily being all three of them. When someone describes themselves as a Jew, they could be talking about a race, a religion, and/or a culture. It’s not like other religions that are more based in faith. You cannot be a non-practicing Catholic in the same way you can be a non-practicing Jew. All Jews have at least one of these traits, but they don’t necessarily have all of them (all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares). So, to answer your question, I don’t know anything about his being Jewish, because being Jewish can be so many things. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching this guy because you don’t know enough about him yet, you’ll need to get to know him better (I’d recommend asking him yourself).
Love is sure in the air, as my partner and I are engaged! We’re pretty excited, although we don’t want our wedding to seem like just another cog in the wedding industrial complex machine. We want our wedding to reflect who we are as a couple—which is two queer kids in love. What rituals can we incorporate to make this happen? Any suggestions on reading to include or shout outs to make that won’t seem out of place at a wedding?
Tying the Knot, Rainbow Style
Dear Tying the Knot,
First of all, congratulations! Planning a wedding can either be a dream or a nightmare, depending upon your approach, but it seems like you kids have your heads in the right place. One of the wonderful things about being queer is that we kind of have free reign to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, when it comes to ceremony. I don’t know much about the two of you, so I would feel strange suggesting any readings or ceremonies that I would feel could be meaningful to both of you. The one piece of advice I can give you is that you should make your wedding, well, your wedding. You want your wedding to be a reflection of who you both of you are, so you should find someone who knows you and bounce ideas off of him or her. My husband and I are close friends with the rabbi who married us, and we had weekly Skype meetings to build our perfect ceremony (there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd).
What separated our wedding from being “another cog in the wedding industrial complex machine” was that it was so inherently us. Sit down with the people who are participating in your wedding and build it together; make it a fun, bonding activity. A tool you might want to use is Pinterest, which is a nifty way of reviewing and collecting ideas from the internet. Ultimately, it’s up to you what you do, and as long as you are happy, you shouldn’t feel worried about something being “out of place,” especially at your own wedding.
Perhaps find a rainbow-colored glass to break? Wishing you both years of happiness together, and, of course, one truly fabulous wedding.
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