The Temple Sholom synagogue in Pompano Beach, Florida, has placed adverts in a local Jewish newspaper offering ‘Jewish Covenant of Love” ceremonies to gay couples.
The synagogue plans to be the first of its kind in the county to offer the ceremonies after the Conservative Movement’s Committee of Jewish Law and Standards voted in 2006 to give rabbis the freedom to conduct them.
“Even though Florida does not recognise gay marriage, I feel that gay people are entitled,” Rabbi Mark David of Temple Sholom told the Sun Sentinel. “People fall in love and they should be able to express that love in a public setting.”
In his previous synagogue, David had been unable to conduct the ceremonies. “It hurt me so much to my very core that I could not help these people,” he said. “I believe religion should bring people together.”
The Congregation Etz Chaim in South Florida also offers commitment ceremonies to gay couples and has done for several years.
According to the Congregation Etz Chaim website, these ceremonies are part of their attempt to “provide a nurturing environment for gay and lesbian Jews, inclusive of bisexual, transgender and heterosexual [people] in South Florida.”
However, the Temple of Sholom is the first Conservative Movement synagogue to offer the ceremonies in South Florida.
While couples who have a ‘Covenant of Love’ ceremony will not receive a Jewish marriage certificate, they will exchange rings, recite vows and break a glass to symbolise the fragility of love.
David hopes that the adverts will attract straight couples who don’t want to have a traditional wedding, as well as gay couples.