Blessed is the Creator of Joy & Gladness, Friends & Lovers, Celebration & Humor, Pleasure & Delight, Love & Harmony, Peace & Companionship.  May the jubilant voices of this joyous occasion resound throughout our communities, echoing through every city street, the voices of unbridled joy & gladness, the voices of those joined in marriage under the chuppah, the sound of feasting & singing,  and the sound of peace.  Blessed is the Creator of Joy & Gladness, who unites Andy & Neal in sacred love.



Andy and Neal, today, in this ceremony, and in your lives, you teach us how to pour old wine into new flasks -- how to take the tradition that you both honor and love, and make it speak to your lives by renewing and reinventing the rituals of Judaism that carry so much meaning.

You yourselves are blessings to all of us and the entire Jewish community as you live out your holy and joyful reinterpretation of the ancient dance we all share.

May you be blessed with the ever-new wisdom of age-old tradition and the rejuvenating power of ancient practice made new.



Rabbi Hillel says, "Do not separate yourselves from the community."
Rabbi Gamliel says, "All who work for the sake of the community should work for the sake of heaven. Because then, the merit of the community's Forefathers helps them and their righteousness endures forever."
Rabbi Bette sings, "Oh, you got to have friends - the feeling’s oh so strong.  You got to have friends, to make that day last long."
And Rabbi Nachman says, "The only reason the world continues to turn is that every day, we go out into the world and collect acts of true kindness and grace and weave them into a song; and that song becomes a new day."

So, my dear Andy & Neal, here is my blessing to you: May everything you do be for the sake of heaven. May every act you perform be woven out of  kindness & grace - every step you take - every sound you make - be made of  true kindness and grace. And may we, your friends, receive the pleasure of  those ecstatic vibrations that emanate from you - Andy and Neal. And may we sing that song - the song that you weave - may we sing it to our friends and the friends we've yet to meet. And may that song you started surround you in an ever-widening circle of friends - concentric circles of friends - eccentric circles of friends. And may we always be there to support you - your community - as you travel through time and space, so that you will hear this song we sing back to you - woven from your kindness and grace. And may it bring you great joy. And may it bring your fathers and mothers great joy, and your forefathers and your foremothers great joy. And may their righteousness endure forever - and may YOUR righteousness endure forever. And may we all together - right now - right here in this amazing moment of love - may we all taste Heaven.  And let's all say: Amen.



As we speak of family today, let us remember that some family members are most profoundly present in their absence.
Call them to mind.

"Love makes a family", was a phrase often echoed by an old friend Peter Cicchino.  Although Peter more than likely would have enjoyed calling the thought his own, he would be the first to credit the gay right's movement with its origin.

"Love makes a family", therefore a family is love.

I have often heard Neal on the phone with his father ending the conversation with "I love you, Dad." That phrase I soon found out was a common occurrence in the Hoffman parlance.  It also helped explain Neal's ease in which he has become family to so many…sick teenagers, adoring co-workers, lifelong friends, and now,…Andy.

What I know of the Ingall family is mostly through the writing of Marjorie, and the story of how her family has helped save her life.  Families strengthen us to live without fear.  We have each other.

Contrary to the old saying, we do pick our families.  As we share ourhistories, we intentionally create family. Today, Andy and Neal choose to create a family with each other, to join their histories and create a new future.This choice is an act of love and of hope. May your family be a place ofnurture and strength to each other and a place from which you can share thathope with those around you.May we all be strengthened in love by the gift of having witnessed this new creation.



We stand in the midst of the burning world primed to burn with compassionate love and justice, to turn inward and find holy fire at the core, to turn outward and see the world that is all of one flesh with us, see under the trash, through the smog, the furry bee in the apple blossom, the trout leaping, the candles our ancestors lit for us.

Andy and Neal, these words from Marge Piercy’s poem Nishmat capture for us the essential and sacred link between compassion and justice, values that fire you both in your dealings with others and your sense of place in the world.  For justice is only vengeance if it is not fueled by compassion. And compassion is mere sentimentality if it is not powered by justice.  How sorely this burning world needs compassionate justice now, how palpably we can feel that the protest slogan "no justice, no peace" is not a threat, but an objective description of reality.

Both of you exude compassion in the love you share and the beauty with which you extend it to others; in your generosity, your playfulness, your commitments in your work to saving the living and to saving the past. You expand the compassion on which justice is founded.  May your love for each other, the strength and sensitivity that come from your union, continually increase your capacity to reach out with compassion to others and intensify your contributions to the deed of tikkun olam, mending the world, and may your loving example continue to inspire all of us to seek peace and pursue it.

Adonai el Rakhum v'Khanun
God of compassion
Nish’al mey’eyn hashalom:
Eternal wellspring of peace:
May we be saturated with the warmth of compassion, drenched with the longing for justice, that we may give ourselves over as the earth to the rain, to the dew, until peace overflows our lives as living waters overflow the sea. (Adapted from Marcia Falks’s Book of Blessings.)



My themes are learning and creativity--two ideas linked by the very lovely conviction that we do not have to accept the world that we are born into either as fully known or as completed.

In his poem "Messiah," Mark Doty honors the power of the human imagination: "If art’s/ acceptable evidence," he asks, "mustn’t what lies/ behind the world be at least/ as beautiful as the human voice?" "Aren’t we enlarged/ by the scale of what we’re able/ to desire?"  And he answers, hopefully:  "Still time./  Still time to change."

May you discover for yourselves, Neal and Andy, the creative voice that "lies behind the world"; may you be "enlarged by the scale" of what you are "able to desire" and what you hope for.

And may you, side by side, make our world new every day of your lives together.



I Love You
By Nazim Hikmet

I kneel down: I look at the earth,
the grass,
little stems blooming with blues.
You are like the spring earth, my love,
   I’m looking at you.

I lie on my back: I see the sky,
the branches of a tree,
storks on the wing,
a waking dream.
You are like the spring sky, my love,
   I see you.

At night I light a campfire: I touch fire,
You are like a fire lit beneath the stars,
   I touch you.

I go among people: I love people,
You are one person in my struggle,
   I love you. *


*At your ceremony, in your honor, Carl read this last line as: "you are two people in our struggle, we love you."

Andy & Neal
how funny and strange
that you asked us to speak on
love & companionship
during the most difficult month
of the most difficult year of our 12 together

maybe I underestimate you
you knew exactly what you were doing
after all
you’re both healers

and so this is how life should be
that just when the work of loving seems too much to bear
something gives you pause
causes you to step back from your workbench
and suddenly see the chair emerge from a pile of sticks

Neal & Andy
we hope that this community of family and friends
will help you
that when the work of loving seems too much to bear
that we will give you excuses
to read each other love poems
to write each other love poems
to dance
to laugh
to remember why you are together

June 2, 2002

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