Jewish Same-Sex Wedding at the Iconic Copacabana Palace, Sparks Media Frenzy in Brazil
The luxurious Copacabana Palace Hotel is a favorite wedding destination in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; but for the first time in 95 years, the hotel became the site of a same-sex wedding. It was something that sparked media frenzy in Brazil, especially because the two ladies got married in a Jewish ceremony.
Now, same-sex marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013; within 4 years, 15,000 same-sex couples have officially registered to be married but it seemed that none had their wedding done at the Copacabana Palace Hotel which was actually a popular wedding venue.
So, when pharmacist Roberta Gradel and economist Priscila Raab decided to get married and hold the ceremony at the hotel, it was met with various reactions on social media.
But longtime cantor at Orthodox, Conservative and Reform synagogues David Alhadeff who performed the ceremony explained that while the ceremony followed Jewish traditions, it couldn’t be considered a Jewish marriage.
“It was not a Jewish marriage because one of the brides is not Jewish, it was a spiritual marriage with a Jewish symbology. It is very important to welcome the union of two people who love each other, regardless of faith, gender or anything else. I feel very happy and honored to be able to bless a union where love, which should have no boundaries or limits, is sovereign,” Alhadeff explained; he refers to the fact that Gradel was Jewish but Raab was not.
He further explained, “I follow my perception of what I consider to be the needs of Judaism these days. The Jewish bride is very tied to the traditions and asked me to reproduce the symbolism of a Jewish marriage because of the importance it had for her.”
So, the brides followed Jewish wedding traditions, including not seeing each other for 7 days before the wedding, walking in seven circles around one another, and breaking glass under the chuppah at the ceremony.
But the union made headlines, nonetheless. Attended by 200 guests, the union also sparked social media frenzy. A number of people wondered where homosexuality is now allowed in the Jewish community.
Party planner Ricardo Stambowsky told local media, “I am very happy to be able to participate in the overthrow of the wall of prejudice and false moralism that prevented same-sex unions.” This was the first gay marriage he organized.