“...all I know is that we've been fighting for marriage equality for years...we've come this close on more than one occasion..and then Tamara goes to Springfield, and, bam, we have marriage equality,” my friend David joked. It was fun to be part of the final push for marriage equality in Illinois. Oak Park Temple chartered a bus, and I was one of many aboard. Each person who marched, in the rain, on October 22, 2013, felt a little bit of the magic of the day. Many of us weren't convinced that Senate Bill 10, the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” would be called for a vote any time soon—it had already been postponed once—but we still chanted with conviction, “gay, straight, black, white, marriage is a civil right.” Or something like that. We'd made our phone calls, and now we marched. The wind blew, and the rain came down. Some of us were “bearing the burden of the other,” and some of us were bearing our own burden. How did I, a gentile by birth and a Christian by culture, come to march with Oak Park Temple?
Giving in to this memory brings up an earlier memory of sexy Shulamit Natan singing “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.” When I was 8 years old I fell a little bit in love with Shulamit's beautiful face and her nervous, haunting voice, and I wanted to go to Jerusalem. I didn't know that this song was somewhat of an international hit, as a war ballad. I did not equate loving Jerusalem with patriotism. I memorized “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” without understanding it. My parents bought that LP in Israel in 1970 at the “Conference on Biblical Prophecy.”
Living on the kibbutz in 1980, I imagined that if I were a Jew I would stay in Israel. That would be where I belonged. But what do I know? We exist, in all of our tumultuous divisions. I choose Jews, Judaism, and Oak Park Temple because this community embodies who I am and who I wish to become. An important, but not well known, actor from Mound City, Illinois described this impulse that directs my conscious life: “You throw an anchor into the future you want to build, and you pull yourself along by the chain.” (John O'Neal)