As the fires still raged, I took a break to marry Lindsey Cooper and Laura Berman down on the Santa Monica beach (leaving our Fire Response Efforts in the able hands of my partner, Rabbi Julia Atlas Weisz, and her amazing team).
Under the beautiful setting sun, with the Santa Monica Pier roller coaster lit up nearby (reminding us that life by definition is a roller coaster of ups, downs, and spinnings round and round), the two brides, made beautiful by the LOVE that burns within them, celebrated joyously in their relocated ceremony (originally planned for Malibu but moved 24 hours before). Looking at their love-drunk faces as she broke the glass–a reminder of the destruction our people endured–I was inspired by these lessons:
- That love will triumph over hate (and may this love motivate us to stop the cynical turning back the clock now underway on marriage equality and LGBTQ2 rights)
- That with LOVE, we can endure the most disappointing destruction (of our homes, our sense of safety, the loss of life, and the intentional, purposeful, and insensitive comments of the one who should be Healer in Chief)
- That a LOVING community transcends distance (thanks to all who helped call and check up on our congregants). May we continue to turn that LOVING energy toward reaching out and helping all affected by the fires and shootings, regardless of where they live, how much they make, their skin color, national origin, religion, etc.
- That an embrace of LOVE, like that of de Toledo High School, helps us endure the loss of homes, the evacuation of sister congregations, the burning of buildings (at camp JCA Shalom Camp, Hess Kramer, Ilan Ramon Day School, and elsewhere), and the burning loss of our sense of security
- That LOVE burning brightly can motivate us to face down and ultimately stop hate-honed shootings, like those at the country western dance bar, Badlands, the synagogue in Squirrel Hill, at Kroger’s in Kentucky (because the shooter couldn’t get into the predominantly black Church), and at the churches and concerts and schools and malls and <insert latest location of mass shooting here>. LOVE can triumph over this kind of violence-producing hate, even if it has been honed by those in power.
So Mazel Tov, Laura and Lindsey:
May your passion for each other burn brightly for 120 years, inspiring us to reach out with LOVE to the evacuated, the shot-at, and the downtrodden, dispossessed, unloved, and everyone else, who like you and me are deserving of living with LOVE in safety and hope.
Rabbi Paul Kipnes serves Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, CA. This blog was originally posted on paulkipnes.com