This past spring, a committee that creates laws for the Conservative Jewish movement approved two ceremonies for same-sex marriage, both of which eliminates the need for a traditional dominant party in a union.

In place of the ownership formula of a kiddushin which heterosexual couples use, same-sex ceremonies are declaring a kinyan, or acquisition, not of each other but of the partnership itself.


Another area of change created specifically for same-sex couples is divorce. Traditionally speaking, only a man can terminate a Jewish marriage, but obviously this cannot be utilized in a lesbian marriage. Therefore, the same-sex model allows either party to dissolve the marriage because, as the rabbis noted, if only a man can initiate a divorce, in a marriage of two women, presumably nobody could.

The key points in the liturgy being changed are ones that liberal, straight Jewish brides have been fighting for for years, and now, they are arguing that same-sex marriage, in the eyes of the Jewish faith, is more fair than heterosexual.

“I think it might put some pressure [on the movement],” Aurora Mendelsohn, 39, who wrote her own ketubah with her husband, told the New York Post. “More people will see these totally egalitarian ceremonies and say, ‘Why should I have less of a role than my groom, when these two men get to do something equal?’”

(I see their point, but it’s really difficult to empathize when LGBTQ+ couples can only have their marriage even legally recognized in a handful of states …)

Still though, their arguments are putting pressure on rabbis to change the language for all, gay and straight, and make it more egalitarian, and as we move into our modern times, I think that’s a good path to take. As many of our Real Couples have proved in their Jewish ceremonies, you can incorporate tradition in a way that’s prevalent to today. Is it kosher? Technically not, but we’ve also evolved beyond a marriage involving ownership of another.

“While some heterosexual couples may see in these new models of brit (covenant) and shutafut (partnership) for same-sex couples a basis for abandoning the traditional model of kiddushin, Conservative Judaism has taught us to respect ancient liturgy and to minimize modifications of text,” wrote Rabbi Avram Israel Reisner, of Baltimore, who wrote the liturgy along with Rabbi Elliot Dorff of Los Angeles and Rabbi Daniel Nevins, dean of the Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

“Innovation has its rightful place beside tradition, but not in its stead,” Reisner wrote.

Photo: Real Weddings Kim and Randie, photography by Bre Sessions and Dina Kantor Photography