Lee Rosenfield and Jack Fastag have been a couple for 18 years, but on Nov. 10, they made their union official by combining Jewish tradition with a literally shattering finish.
The Lambertville couple, with 100 family members and friends in attendance, were married at their home, joining the hundreds of other gay couples in New Jersey embracing a NJ State Supreme Court ruling that went into effect Oct. 21.
The ceremony was conducted by Rabbi Adam Feldman and Hazzan Joanna Selznick Dulkin of the Jewish Center in Princeton, where the two men and their children are members. In a slight departure from tradition, instead of breaking glasses at the conclusion of the ceremony — as they had done at a commitment ceremony in 2004 — the couple gave each guest his or her own glass to shatter at the same time. This symbolized, said Rosenfield, “that we still live in a fragmented society where so many people are still denied the right to marry.”
The act also signaled their determination to “stand strong with our gay brothers and sisters in 36 other states who are still being denied their basic human rights and dignity,” said Rosenfield, “and their “collective responsibility to continue the fight for marriage equality throughout the land. Until we have it we will never be whole.”
The two had met after completing their respective graduate degrees, when Rosenfield moved to New Jersey from California, and Fastag, who grew up in Mexico, moved from New York. They have two children, Ethan, six, and Eliana, three, whom they fathered with an egg donor and two women who served as gestational carriers.
Rosenfield, who has a consultancy business, served as director of advancement at Rutgers Hillel, and then as CEO of the Betty and Milton Katz Jewish Community Center of Princeton Mercer Bucks.
“We did have a huppa back in 2004 when Domestic Partnership legislation was approved,” Rosenfield said. “We had 150 people witness our love and commitment to each other. Now that will be recognized in full faith and credit by the State of New Jersey and the United States of America.”
Fastag, senior flavor chemist at David Michael & Co., said that in a way, they have now “finished” what they started nine years ago when they had the huppa ceremony. “What is new,” he added, “is that we don’t need any convoluted wording or explanations anymore. We don’t need to say ‘gay marriage’ any more, it is now ‘marriage,’ period — the same word that everyone understands, conveying equal rights and responsibilities.”
Performing the wedding was a first for Feldman, who said he had wanted not just the go-ahead from the Conservative movement but also from the State of New Jersey. “I’m hoping that ceremonies like this become commonplace,” he said, “with people caring enough, as Lee and Jack do, to make the ancient traditions their own.”
In the run-up to the event, he met with the couple to work out the details of the ceremony. “To be honest, many parts of our community have not been accepting of gay relationships,” he said, “and I feel very strongly that we should be.”
In an e-mail message to NJJN after the ceremony, the couple said their wedding day was “spectacular. It was far more intense and emotional than either of us expected. The full legalization of our marriage is profound and of course long overdue. We were surrounded by lots of love and to be there with our children was priceless!”