Liberals celebrate a same-sex wedding

By Jonathan Kalmus, June 2, 2011
Jeffrey Levine and Roman Hunter-Fox  at their Manchester wedding

Jeffrey Levine and Roman Hunter-Fox at their Manchester wedding

The first same-sex Jewish ceremony officially to be termed a marriage by Liberal Judaism has taken place in Manchester.

Last Sunday, Manchester Liberal Jewish Community members Jeffrey Levine and Roman Hunter-Fox exchanged vows, a ketubah and rings under a chuppah at the city's Lowry Hotel.

Both men performed the traditional glass-breaking, while specially written shevah brachot (seven blessings) were made, with the phrase "blessed is God that you cause loving companions to rejoice together", to replace the traditional bride and groom blessing.

While it is not the UK's first same-sex ceremony under a chuppah, it is the first time Liberal Judaism has sanctioned the use of the terms ketubot and marriage. The ceremony was the first since LJ's rabbinic conference two months ago, which agreed to treat same-sex ceremonies as full marriages following its introduction of a same-sex blessing ceremony in 2005.

It pre-empts legal changes to the Equality Act currently under consultation by the government. Same- sex marriages are currently not legal, but Liberal Judaism has joined other religious denominations to pressure the government to allow gay marriages in places of worship. Mr Levine, 45, from Belfast, grew up in an Orthodox community.

He said: "Outside Liberal Judaism, your spouse is not really welcomed as much as a straight Jewish wife." He is a management consultant, while Mr Hunter-Fox, 40, is a recruitment consultant.

He added: "We wanted to have a proper Jewish wedding with God as our witness. We were very serious about our vows and living a Jewish life." Rabbi Mark Solomon, who performed the ceremony, said: "Liberal Judaism has seen society move on in marriage equality and we have made the decision to function as if the law has changed."

Couples will still require a civil partnership ceremony until the law is changed, but Liberal Judaism has agreed to begin keeping central marriage records.

Last updated: 12:14pm, June 2 2011