‘My husband is finally getting the welcome he deserved 38 years ago’

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‘My husband is finally getting the welcome he deserved 38 years ago’

After Liberal Judaism said it will allow mixed faith couples to marry under a chuppah, two couples reflect how it will transform their relationship with each other and their faith

On the left, Andrew and Ruth's first wedding day. On the right Helen Goldhill and Lucie Spicer are a mixed faith couple who plan to marry under a chuppah next year
On the left, Andrew and Ruth's first wedding day. On the right Helen Goldhill and Lucie Spicer are a mixed faith couple who plan to marry under a chuppah next year

Liberal Judaism chair Ruth Seager and husband Andrew married in May 1983 at Crawley Registry Office, when they were both 23 years old. Ruth is a lifelong Liberal Jew; Andrew has no religion but sees himself as a non-Jewish member of a Jewish family.

They have three children – Joshua, Rebecca and Reuben – who they have raised to be informed and committed Jews.

Ruth and Andrew now intend to renew their vows under the chuppah.

Andrew said: “Ruth and I met at university. After a couple of years of joining in festivals, attending services and fasting, Ruth’s father gave me a tallit.

“I am not a religious person but I have developed a high regard for Jewish life and found myself comfortable with the teachings of Liberal Judaism, so I was very happy for our future family to be Jewish.”

Andrew and Ruth’s first wedding day in 1983

Ruth added: “After we were married, we joined Crawley Jewish community then we moved to London and became members of what is now East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue.

“Andrew has always been an active member of the community – schlepping tables and chairs, doing security and attending services. He has always stood up to be counted when it comes to the Jewish world, so now I am pleased that the Jewish community is giving Andrew the welcome that he deserved 38 years ago.

“It is wonderful that couples like Andrew and I, especially those starting a Jewish life together, can now be welcomed properly and unreservedly through the chuppah and into the tent.

“Liberal Judaism is a home for everyone’s Jewish story. This is what an inclusive movement looks like.”

Helen Goldhill, who is Jewish, and Lucie Spicer, who has no faith, plan to marry next July. They say the chuppah will provide “a beautiful symbol of our life and home together”.

Lucie said: “Being Jewish is a big part of Helen’s identity and we are joining our lives together. It would have been very sad if certain aspects of the Jewish marriage ceremony were not available to us.

Helen Goldhill and Lucie Spicer are a mixed faith couple who plan to marry under a chuppah next year

“With such uncertainty around weddings, and disappointment for many at having to postpone, this has really brought joy to many couples like us. After all, everyone loves a wedding!”

Helen added: “We plan to build a Jewish home and having these traditions on our wedding day will only embed Judaism in our future even further.

“I was extremely touched when I heard the news – knowing that we weren’t going to have to compromise on what we wanted for our wedding.

“I know for friends and their parents in the past this wasn’t an option and has been something they wished they had. I also have friends who are currently engaged that will benefit from this, so I am excited for them now too!”

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