The ballad of Leah and Amanda: ritual and history at the wedding of a Jewish lesbian couple in Melbourne, Australia Academic Article uri icon


  • At the beginning of 2014, Leah and Amanda became one of the first pairs of Jewish lesbians to have a Jewish wedding in Melbourne, Australia. Held in a secular reception venue and officiated by a Reform rabbi, this ceremony was a Jewish religious ceremony that had no relationship to the Australian state. In this ceremonial search for a ritual that would be true to themselves, would express their love, and would engage with communal and familial cultures and histories, dominant discourses of both Jewish and Australian weddings were simultaneously challenged and reinforced. In this article, utilizing oral history methodologies, I will explore some of the ways that Leah and Amanda articulated and enacted their relationships, histories and futures. In particular, I suggest that their utterances make visible the production of historically specific iterations of normativity. Through an exploration of this intimate relationship, this article thus works to come to an understanding of some of the ways in which Australian Jewish lesbian practices and ideas of assimilation, normativity and difference, come to exist. How can these relationships be both normative and transgressive, as lesbian relationships and as Jewish ones? By inquiring into the Jewish character, as well as the lesbian character, of this wedding and this intimate relationship between these two women, this article proposes an intervention into historical understandings of homonormativity.

publication date

  • 2020