Tuesday, September 01, 2009


I made a resolution at the beginning of the week to get to bed by 10:00 so that I would not look haggard for my wedding this weekend. Also, when I don't get enough sleep I'm super-cranky. It is 12:17 as I write this because I am ANGRY.

We searched up and down for chuppah poles to borrow since renting them was $200 and making them was a pain in the ass. Most people we asked told us to just get them from a florist, not realizing that they would cost $200 and not being able to see our vision of using Jacob's grandpa's quilt. Finally, someone told us to ask a synagogue and since we had just started attending one that we liked, we asked them. They said yes, of course. I went in to look at them. We scheduled a day when I would pick them up: September 1st. For September 6 wedding.

We love this new spiritual community. While I was in solidifying the chuppah deal, I wrote them a big check to purchase our tickets for the high holidays and Jacob and I were planning to purchase our membership shortly thereafter. We felt so comfortable there that Jacob gave a D'var a couple of weeks ago (the equivalent of a short sermon). There's lots of things to like about them. They accept our interfaith relationship. They are intelligent and interesting. They have infrastructure. They work actively for social justice. Moreover, they are just plain nice.

But today, August 31, the Executive Director called to say that they had given the chuppah poles away to someone else. She mentioned that it was to paid members and that they were paying to rent them.

No one asked me to pay for them! If I had known, I would have gladly done so. I had my checkbook out to pay for the tickets and she made a joke about giving them a picture of the chuppah "as my donation" so that other couples could see it. Was that passive aggression? Should I have offered?

I'm six days away from my wedding and they tell me that I need to just run out and find something else.

I am pissed. Not so much at the running around I'm going to have to do or the money I'm going to have to spend but at the way we were treated. We made a deal with these folks and they betrayed our trust.

A spiritual community that values social justice treats actual people poorly.

The fucking hypocrisy is keeping me from falling asleep because I'm so angry.

And now we have to reconsider whether or not this will be our spiritual home. I think that's what makes me angriest. How could we ever invest in this place if this is how the institution treats people? And we were so happy with it. How can I ever forgive them?

I have to get to sleep. I keep weeping and I don't want to wake Jacob up since he has to work. There is more loss here than a crucial wedding prop. I feel like we've lost the one Jewish community we have found that fit us well, or at all.


I don't know if I'm feeling any better or not for having gotten that out. It's 1:27 now and I've explored a couple of options. One friend told me earlier that he would help me a chuppah stand. If the rental place still has one, we're willing to spend the money. Since the ceremony takes place on an actual stage with an actual fly space, we might be able to hang the chuppah from the battens.

Also, I know that this might seem like a bigger deal to me than it is because the wedding is so close and I have so many pressures on me right now. I know that Jacob and I will make decisions about the community when our heads are cooler. However, I am not very good at ignoring powerful emotions simple because I know that they are irrational.

Tomorrow, I will go out to the synagogue as scheduled and try to get the full story. Or maybe not. Maybe that will be too stressful and not actually solve anything. Maybe I should just give up and resign myself to finding another option.


Rachel said...

Oooooh. I love you!

Later... laaaater, after the wedding, after settling, I would think about going to talk to the E.D. With Jacob.

Fret not about your Jewish spiritual home right now, simply because you have other things that are pulling at you. It's a very important thing but no good solution comes at one in the morning. I know this from experience. Too much experience.

For now, tend to your love, to yourself, and to your wedding.

P.S. Just get people to hold up the chuppah, tag-teaming as their arms get tired. :)

Rachel said...

p.s. there's a lot of weight, so to speak, one those poles right now.

Anonymous said...

Ok, two things:

1) Our huppah poles were wooden curtain rods from Home Depot. $8 each. I think it's this one, although I don't know why it's listed as being so expensive (it really was $8 per pole_: http://www.homedepot.ca/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CatalogSearchResultView?D=912507&Ntt=912507&catalogId=10051&langId=-15&storeId=10051&Dx=mode+matchallpartial&Ntx=mode+matchall&recN=0&N=0&Ntk=P_PartNumber

Assuming you are having people hold the huppah, and that you want it to look fairly simple (it sounds like you do) then curtain rods are easy and inexpensive.

2) Oh, shuls. Sadly the story does not surprise me--even the most progressive of synagogues tend to have a money-shaped blindspot. But I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. For one thing, there is often a big difference between shul admin and shul spiritual organization. I.E., in our synagogue, the admins are total jerks, but the folks involved in actual practise, like the rabbi and cantor, are wonderful. And don't have much power over how the admin side does their business. At the end of the day, as frustrating as the admin folks are (and it is so shitty that they let you down so close to your wedding), they are not what make the shul experience.

Also, I have been trying to find a shul that "fit" me for 28 years. No such luck as of yet. I think part of the process of practising an organized religion is the impossibility of finding a place that fits you 100%. We can only find places that fit us "best".

I hope that all of this gets sorted out quickly and easily! I can imagine that this is a stress that you do not currently need.

Dave said...

I'd be happy to help with the construction piece. I just looked up some quick instructions and it looks pretty simple. Buy some big flower pots, pvc pipe, concrete, and some kind of pole (dowel rods, curtain rods). Let me know!