Dear Rabbi Meinken-Greenberg,
First off, thank you so much for sending us a draft of your statements ahead of time. After we saw you read from Obergefell v. Hodges at the Feinstein-Levy wedding, Rachel and I knew that you were the only person we could have officiate our ceremony located on the 17th hole tee-off (“the forest and pond hole”) at Oakbrook Country Club. And while we love most of the draft, we were hoping that you could cut out some of the anecdotes, parables, and exegetical hermeneutics related to your tattoos.
It’s not that we don’t love your tattoos. We think it is so wonderful that you, a self-identified “millennial, male feminist, post-racial, radical Rabbinx,” are reclaiming a practice that is otherwise universally taboo in Judaism. Nevertheless, here are some of the tattoo explanations that we must omit from the formal ceremony due to course time constraints (“Speed Golf Night Against Urban Blight” is at 8).
First, while I was moved by how your rib cage tattoo of an ampersand in proto-Aramaic typography symbolizes the generational merging of nouns—and therefore, people—in marriage, I’m not sure it will be appropriate for you to take off your shirt (as you stated in your attached stage directions) during the ceremony.
Rachel had trouble connecting our wedding to your calf tattoo of the Seattle skyline re-imagined as a steampunk utopia, and frankly, I agree that the connection is a little thin. Especially because neither of us have been to Seattle. Also, what did you mean when you wrote, “I could tell they were huge H.P. Lovecraft fans just by looking at them”? We aren’t.
Although I have not read 3 Ecclesiastes since Hebrew school, I do know that only The Byrds rendition contains the words “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and it might be misleading to say that your left arm sleeve tattoo with its lyrics is a “direct Tanakh quote.”
The black squares on your forearms are a moving tribute to the fallen passenger heroes of United 93, but, as we stated in person, we’d rather keep things positive during the ceremony. You know, look to the future.
The lower back silhouettes of sparrows flying into the sun is a beautiful allegory for your early twenties’ struggle of trying to find clients as a male doula in Austin, but I would respectfully remind you that this ceremony is about Rachel and me, our love, and not the many ways holistic birthing can reduce the risk of autism.
Indeed, the elk antlers on your wrists remain a touching reminder of your father’s “insane” retirement party. However, I don’t think it’s necessary to discuss their meaning during the ceremony, as everybody can already see them right over the words, “RIP” on your left wrist, and “DAD’S JOB” on your right. It is not that the tattoos are obvious, but rather, become self-evident whenever you lift your arms in that Druze tunic you bartered in Haifa. I hope that makes sense.
By the way, we love the tunic: please wear it!
When I first read your parable of the tattoo of a snake inside a human skull, I totally got your ironic self-awareness. I, too, think it’s funny that you’d embrace the anti-humor of getting such a cliché biker gang tattoo on your neck, especially at a biker convention. But perhaps some attendants will not share our sophisticated meta-humor considering you ride a Harley to shul.
I must say that your anecdote of how you got the Sublime sun tattoo on your upper arm was, well, compelling, but Rachel has never listened to “40 Oz. To Freedom.” So she will not get what you mean when you discuss all thirty-four of its subtle Grateful Dead references. Plus, in my opinion, their eponymous album was much better. Perhaps, as an alternative, you could discuss your “SUBLIME” full back tattoo and tie it to your doctoral thesis on the mark of Cain?
All of that being said, Rachel and I would love it if you still discussed your belly-button tattoo of an upside-down hamsa giving the middle finger. The story behind how you chose the Shepard Fairey-esque design really captures our spirit. But, again, we’d like to stress how important it is that you keep your shirt on. Oakbrook has a pretty strict dress code.
Rachel and I are so grateful to have your guiding presence on our special day. Will you be able to play “L’Chi Lach” on the guacharacas that you got backpacking in Colombia?
Thank you again, Rabbi Meinken-Greenberg. Sorry, I mean, Snake.