Editor’s note: June is LGBT Pride month. As an institution that teaches about the dangers of intolerance, we are pleased to highlight an object in our collection that speaks to a major legal victory in the LGBTQ community’s fight for equality.
By Lisa Safier, Director of Communications
Pride 2020 in New York City is significant for many reasons. Most noticeably, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this jubilant occasion is being celebrated primarily virtually. This year also marks the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the LGBT community in response to a police raid that began on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. That momentous event became the springboard for making great strides to achieve equality for the LGBT community.
Just over nine years ago, on June 24, 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Marriage Equality Act into law in New York State. Shortly after that, a couple in New York City, Renie Rutchick and Judith Trachtenberg, set a wedding date. They had met 23 years prior and been together for many years. Among the numerous things that Judith and Renie shared was a deep commitment to caring for people, both through their vocations and their volunteer work, including as lay leaders of the social justice work at their synagogue, B’nai Jeshurun. On July 1, 2012, in front of family, friends, and a rabbi, Judith and Renie exchanged vows under the chuppah. I am honored to have been one of the wedding guests.
Sadly, a few weeks ago Renie passed away. Renie’s and Judith’s love and their shared commitment to the work of Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) is represented in the Museum’s collection. Their wedding invitation and an inscribed kippah from the event are the first artifacts from a same-sex marriage to become part of the collection of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. May Renie’s memory be a blessing and an inspiration.