SSM in shule makes history

Ilan Buchman and Oscar Shub tied the knot at Emanuel Synagogue in Australia’s first same-sex religious marriage. Photo: Robert Klein

SAME-sex partners Ilan Buchman and Oscar Shub used to wear broken black commitment rings inscribed with the words “until we all belong”.

Last week, those rings became part of the couple’s past when the pair exchanged two full circle wedding rings at Emanuel Synagogue in what is believed to be the first official religious same-sex wedding in Australia.

Reflecting on the significance of the occasion, Buchman told The AJN, “It was important for us to send a message of acceptance to others that you can be part of a community that welcomes you.”

The historic occasion was 47 years in the making, with the couple having first met at a mutual friend’s dinner party in Tel Aviv in 1971.

Officiating the marriage was Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, who shared the couple’s story with a crowd of 168 family members and friends.

“Ilan moved to Israel as an 18-year-old. Oscar stopped there for a brief visit on his gap year. That night the sparks of love were lit,” Rabbi Kamins said, adding that the couple “shared dreams to walk this life together”.

In an adaptation of Jewish wedding rituals, both grooms circled the other three times before completing the seventh circle together.

Later in the ceremony they each simultaneously broke a glass, before joyous clapping and singing erupted throughout the shule.

Commenting on the speech that his newlywed delivered at their wedding reception, Shub remarked, “Ilan spoke about us having two identities – one Jewish and one gay. Having the wedding in a synagogue allowed us to bring the two sectors of our life together.”

Shub also shared parts of his own speech with The AJN. “Who would have believed in 1971 when we got together that I would be standing tonight having just married my partner, my best friend and the love of my life,” he said.

Their big day had been a long time coming for family and friends, many of whom flew in from London, Perth and Israel – among other locations.

With Jews from different branches, Christians, Hindus and Muslims in attendance, Shub said it was wonderful to see a “level of inclusion by everybody … the warmth and love in the room was tangible”.

Standing by its progressive stance, Emanuel Synagogue is the first religious institution to perform a same-sex marriage in Australia. The Uniting Church will consider permitting same-sex marriages at its assembly meeting in July.

A momentous day in more than one way, the marriage was the first sacred ritual to be conducted in the synagogue’s new sanctuary, which will officially open on Monday.