With an audience of 200 guests, pharmacist Roberta Gradel and economist Priscila Raab stood beneath a chuppah to marry as is the Jewish tradition. As the first female same-sex couple to marry at the Copacabana Palace – the famous hotel that edges Copacabana beach and which has hosted stars such as Madonna and Michael Jackson – the event made headlines in Brazilian media, with Globo, Brazil’s largest newspaper, dedicating the front page to the wedding with the headline, “And they said ‘yes'”.
While Gradel is Jewish, her partner Raab isn’t, yet they still decided to participate in typical Jewish traditions related to marriage. For one week before the wedding day, the brides did not see each other and on the day of the ceremony, the two brides walked seven circles around each other to symbolize that they are the center of each others’ lives, as well as breaking a glass under the chuppah.
The wedding event was planned by party planner, Ricardo Stambowsky, and it was the first gay marriage that he’d planned. David Alhadeff, a cantor of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Synagogues, performed the ceremony. According to Alhadeff, the wedding wasn’t a Jewish wedding as one of the brides wasn’t Jewish, however, it is considered a spiritual marriage that had Jewish symbology and traditions to honor Gradel’s faith.
Brazil legalized same-sex marriage in 2013 which, since then, has led to more than 1,500 same-sex weddings in the country. In South America, the first-ever Jewish same-sex marriage was in Argentina in 2010 which saw Victoria Escobar and Romina Charur marry in a synagogue in Buenos Aires. Events like these highlight growing changes in tolerance and acceptance of gay marriage in South America.
All the best to the happy couple in Brazil!