L’kha dodi likrat kalah, p’nei shabbat n’kab’lah. Come, my beloved, to welcome the bride; let us greet Shabbat as she arrives. Jewish liturgy

When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. Mary Oliver
 

Thirty-five queer Jews, their partners and friends welcomed Shabbat preparing to merge the sanctity and ‘purity’ of the sabbath with the transformative power of schmutz. Schmutz, the emotional and physical mess we are compelled by others to remove. 

 

Yael and Rachel taught the song and we lit tea lights. In warm coats, the congregation walk out into the field singing. A circle forms of voices and fires and the Shabbat bride appears accompanied by a friend from out of a shed. This is Dex, the drag queen Chanukah Lewinsky, bearded, barefoot, in a wedding dress and she walks around the circle seven times, the congregation becoming queer groom. 

 

The circle is full of tables of paint which Yael has prepared on tin foil which sparkles in the lights. She welcomes the congregation to greet shabbat which is bride and earth and the collective. Gently and tentatively at first, the congregation come with brushes and fingers, twigs and leaves to paint the bride. Braver, bolder, bottles are squeezed down her dress, wads of tinfoil are smeared, chanting emboldens. The congregation call out to the bride whatever they are compelled to. Shabbos bride you are bold. Shabbos bride you are radiant. Shabbos bride you are schmutzy. 

(Text by Dex Grodner)