West London Synagogue’s own Rabbi David Mitchell and his partner, kicked off a day of celebration at West London Synagogue, as the first of three same-sex Jewish couples to celebrate fully-fledged legal marriages on 10 December.
Rabbi David Mitchell and Ian Kirsh said: ‘What a brave new world – we are profoundly grateful to have been the third generation of Ian’s family to have stood under the chuppah at West London Synagogue celebrating our religious, legal and equal marriage’
For the first time ever in UK Jewish history, the three weddings fulfilled both civil and religious elements in a single ceremony, on the first day this was legally possible, whereas previously – following the Civil Partnership Act of 2004 – a civil ceremony had to take place without any religious element. A religious blessing then had to be entirely separate.
The ceremonies were held in the spectacular Italian-Moorish Sanctuary of West London Synagogue, the flagship synagogue of the Movement for Reform Judaism in London’s West End.
The proceedings took place under a chuppah and included blessings, the exchange of rings and vows, one partner encircling the other, and the smashing of glasses to recognise, the pain and sorrow of gay couples in countries with less tolerance for the LGBT community.
Orlando Ortega Medina and William Campos Ortega, below:
The second couple to marry, Orlando Ortega Medina and William Campos Ortega , added: ‘We are immensely proud of Great Britain for taking this historic step, and deeply grateful to West London Synagogue for the honour of having allowed us to celebrate our chuppah in this beautiful sanctuary, accompanied by our family and dearest friends’
The third and final ceremony was with Sir Terence Etherton and Andrew Stone.
Andrew Stone concluded: ‘We are so grateful to the rabbis and many others at WLS who made our wedding such a wonderful, joyous and spiritual event. It was perfect in every respect’
West London Synagogue’s Senior Rabbi, Baroness Julia Neuberger and colleagues Rabbi Helen Freeman and Rabbi David Mitchell were joined by Principal of Leo Baeck College, Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, Rabbi Ariel Friedlander and Rabbi Janet Darley in conducting the ceremonies.
Rabbi Julia Neuberger herself, as a member of the House of Lords, has championed the rights of same sex couples to parity of esteem with heterosexual couples – in a single ceremony and procedure that fulfils both religious and civil requirements for marriage. Rabbi Neuberger comments:
‘I am so proud that my community has embraced the new legislation concerning same-sex marriage with open arms. This is entirely consistent with the community’s staunch belief in supporting human rights across the board for a just and fair society’