Malcolm Navias is Jewish and was born and raised in South Africa but, he said, he didn’t move to the United States; he moved to New York City for a career in the fashion industry.
The Rev. Tom Pivinski is a retired Catholic priest who was born and raised in north Jersey and lived and worked in Manhattan as an English teacher before deciding to become a priest.
The two met 20 years ago through a mutual friend and have been together ever since. On Oct. 21, they joined the ranks of gay couples marrying in New Jersey, hours after the law allowing same-sex marriage took effect just after midnight.
Rabbi Bill Kraus of Edison performed the ceremony in their Asbury Park home, where the couple has lived since 1999.
“We were on our way to Washington, DC, when we heard the news, and we didn’t want to wait; we wanted to do it quickly,” Navias told NJJN. The two exchanged vows and the same rings they had given each other 20 years ago and have been wearing ever since. In accordance with Jewish tradition, they both stomped on a glass.
Following the wedding ceremony, Pivinski shared a reflection about the symbolism of breaking the glass on his Facebook page and with the Huffington Post.
“Following our Hebrew vows of consecration to each other and re-giving 20-year-old worn rings that have bound us together from the start, we shattered a glass that began a new life reverberating with the shouts of Mazel tov,” he wrote. “The shutters of silence flew open to let in a sunlight like we have never known before.”
They call themselves a “bi-ritual” couple, because they have always celebrated both Jewish and Catholic holidays. “Since we’ve been together, we have always celebrated all of the holidays, Christmas, Hanukka, all of them, and our friends, many who do not practice rituals and customs around holiday time, gather at our house for the seder or to make latkes or to celebrate Christmas,” Pivinski said.
A week after their wedding, the two men sat and talked in the living room of their 100-year-old house about their journey and the profound sense of peace they now feel as a married couple. In 2009, when civil unions became legal in the state, the two were joined together in a ceremony at an Episcopal Church. By getting married, they said, they now feel as if they “have completed the circle.”
Navias said his family was never very religious and they have embraced his partnership and his marriage to Pivinski. Today, Novias spends much of his time as the owner and operator of Heaven Art & Antiques on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park. Pivinsky, also known as Father Tom, is an assisting priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Asbury Park.
Kraus, who served briefly as assistant rabbi at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston in the mid-’90s and is a former chaplain at Homeside Hospice in Clark, is also gay and has long advocated for gay marriage in New Jersey. He said he plans to open an LGBT synagogue in West Orange by February 2014. He has already performed a number of gay marriages in New Jersey since the court ruling.
“It’s a remarkable time that has arrived in the gay community,” said Kraus. “So often we think we would have loved to have lived during a certain epic of time, and this is clearly one of those times for those of us who are gay and lesbian and committed to Judaism.
“The Jewish community can offer so much and help create a framework to help the next generation be even more successful than even we’ve been.”