QUEER VOICES

How This Jewish Couple Balances Their Queer Identity With Faith

The pair aimed to put a queer-inclusive spin on a number of Jewish traditions for their 2014 wedding in Los Angeles.

Above all, Emet and Jessica Ozar say their marriage has been an invaluable lesson in balancing their queer identities with their deep religious faith.

Appropriately enough, the couple, who tied the knot last year, first met while pursuing volunteer opportunities as part of Masa Israel Journey, which is focused on providing young adults with work and study programs in Israel. Both Jessica, 28, and 33-year-old Emet say their faith was of the upmost importance as they set about planning their Aug. 31, 2014 wedding, a little over one year after their first meeting at a women's gathering in Jerusalem. 

"It's definitely not always easy," Jessica, a Georgia native who works in non-profit management, told The Huffington Post in an email. Much of the struggle, she added, stemmed from the stereotype that identifying as queer overrides any commitment to organized religion: "We would go to a queer event and feel like we didn't quite fit in as observant Jews, and then we would go to a Jewish event and feel that something was missing, even though our queerness was acknowledged and often welcomed."

Watch Emet's surprise proposal to Jessica, shot in Jerusalem, below: 

The California-born Emet, who identifies as gender queer and works in Jewish education, added, "Some of our friends don't believe in marriage, thinking that it's just queer folks becoming less radical and more mainstream, but I think it allows you an amazing opportunity to think about, and define, your relationship in marriage in whatever terms work [for you]." 

The pair aimed to put a queer-inclusive spin on a number of Jewish traditions for their wedding, which took place at Los Angeles' Wilshire Boulevard Temple. This included a unique ketubahor wedding contract, that the couple created with the help of some rabbis while they were still in Israel, as well as a non-gender-segregated take on the vort, a ritual that involves the breaking of a ceramic plate which signifies the seriousness of the engagement.

Critical to the success of their wedding, was their respective families, who "really supported us and also let us do what we wanted to do," Jessica said. 

In anticipation of Tu B'Av, the Jewish holiday of love observed on July 30, take a look at some stunning photos from Emet and Jessica Ozar's 2014 wedding below. 

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