Andy & Neal Responding

We feel like the events of this weekend, especially this morning’s ritual, speak volumes for us, and we don’t need to add further to that.  Rather we’d like to take a few minutes to thank you.  First of all, thank you for coming from near and far to be with us this weekend to support our union.  We have delegates from Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, the locals from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, DC, and Wisconsin, as well as from Germany, representing the European Union.  We feel extremely blessed to be surrounded by so much love and support from our families and from our friends- our ‘other family’.  By celebrating with us, you have made a statement to us, as much as the statement we have made.

We specifically want to thank our parents Carol and Michael Ingall and Marty Hoffman and his partner Elaine Kimmel, who have provided so much support and guidance to us to make this day, this entire weekend a reality.  Each of us feels surrounded by love at every moment, whether we’re blood or not blood.  To our sisters and brothers-in-law, we thank them also for all the advice and love that so easily comes forth.  We are truly blessed to have two loving families that now feel like one.  To Grandma Bess, thank you for sponsoring our Friday night Shabbat family dinner and our dessert reception last night after havdala and for making sure that you would be here to celebrate with us.

There are a few individuals that we want to single out for their contributions to the weekend’s events.  First of all, Daniel Barash and Mark Jacobs who created a mikveh ceremony on Friday afternoon before Shabbat to mark an important transition to the weekend.  Daniel and Mark are coming up on their first anniversary this month. Mazel tov.

Dear friends of ours beautifully created the two central ritual objects of the brit ahava, the ketuba and the huppa, both of which are on display near the front entrance of the restaurant if you haven’t yet ‘taken them in’.  Stephanie Caplan patiently worked with us to create a ketuba whose text reflects our values and whose design reflects the urban, desert and mountain landscapes that are dear to us.  Ellen Wertheim designed the huppa based on a concept we presented to her.  Seven silk frames in the central panel, based on the sheva berachot, were created by our sisters Tracey Diamond, with help from Amie and Allison, Barrie Stachel, with help from Samantha, Andrew and Paul, and Marjorie Ingall, as well as by Ellen, and other friends, Susan Hicks, Chana Pollack and Irys Shenker and Jenny Worley and Renee Rivera (who couldn’t be here today).  Finally, Aunt Gilda Spinat, in a true act of love and mastery, sewed the entire huppa.  Will you all please stand so everyone can know whom you are?

As you saw this morning, several friends contributed to our ritual this morning and to each we say thank you publicly for your participation.  Tamara Cohen, Rabbi Ayelet Cohen and Miya Rotstein started off the ceremony by leading the kahal in Hinei Ma Tov.  Liz Galst, Aaron Knappstein, Sara Levin and Aviva Weintraub held up the huppa.  Tani Meir, Joanne Jacobson, Yehuda Hyman, Marilyn Neimark and Alisa Solomon, Colleen Kelly and Dan Jones, Nina Browne and Carl Biers read the blessings.  Alessandro DiRocco played the role of guardian to our ketuba.  Aunt Arlene Russo and Aunt Belleruth Naparstek wrapped us in a tallis during the recitation of the sheva berachot.  Our nieces and nephews, Amie Diamond, Allison Diamond, Samantha Stachel and Andrew Stachel, created the wreaths that we used for the mezinke.  After dessert, Rabbi Oren Postrel and Uncle Sid Gottler will lead us in the Grace after meals, the bircat hamazon and the second recitation of the seven blessings, the sheva berachot.  Last night, Rabbi Joel Alter led us in havdala to mark the end of Shabbat and the beginning of a new week.  Katherine Marx and Gwyn Malin were exceptionally spirited badkhanim, or wedding jesters, leading a line-up of talent by Carol and Michael Ingall, Tracey Diamond, Mark and Daniel, David Deutsch, Tracey Citron, Henry Carey, Uncle John Russo and cousin Andrea Russo.

We also want to thank Yolanda Potasinski and Nancy Mertzel who shared so much advice with us about their experience creating a wedding ceremony, including the idea to have the ceremony at the Brotherhood Synagogue.  Also, thank you to Sally Gottesman who introduced us to Rachel Adler’s book, Engendering Judaism, and who also arranged permission for us to reprint the Kolot benchers that you have at your tables and that we’ll use later to say the Bircat hamazon (and which we hope you’ll take home and will use again.)

We are honored that Rabbi Young served as m’sader for our brit ahava, and to have had the benefit of his spiritual guidance over several months in our journey to the huppa and to our partnership beyond the huppa.  And we wish him the best of luck on his return to the UK this summer, and ask that he return as often as possible to the community that has benefited so much from his presence.

Special thanks to Margot Leverett and the ensemble of incredibly talented musicians for adding to the special atmosphere today.  And, to the staff of the Metronome, who have made an incredible party for us.  And, to our photographer Shana Dressler, and to our film crew Jim Hubbard and Jonathan Steuer who have documented the weekend.

In all the months of preparation towards a truly joyous event, we’ve been purposefully aware that this is a time in which the world is hurting and is badly need of repair.  Thank you to so many of you who responded positively to our request to give tzedaka to various organizations and to contribute to the effort of tikkun olam, to repair this broken world.  Many people are lacking joy in their lives, many people lack any stability and peace in their lives and many people lack basic necessities.  This past Thursday marked the end of the recovery effort at the World Trade Center site.  Many people are still mourning the loss of loved ones, and our beloved city still mourns its former self, to a certain extent.  We are so thankful for all that we have today and each day, and hope for peace for all peoples of the world.

Finally, we want to ask all those here to raise your hands if this is the first same-gender wedding ceremony that you have attended.  Well, as we expected, for most of you this is a first.  And, since it is a first, we should say a special blessing, a she’hechiyanu to mark that event, thanking God for sustaining us and bringing us to this day.

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