Article Discussion: What Makes a Wedding Jewish

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This topic has 3 voices, contains 2 replies, and was last updated by  Debbie B. 1481 days ago.

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April 10, 2009 at 4:17 pm #1989

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Click here to read the article: What Makes a Wedding Jewish

October 11, 2010 at 11:37 pm #5106

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I want to include many of the Jewish traditions in our wedding, but I’m not stuck on the requirement of having a Jewish wedding. Do I have to have a Rabbi or Cantor officiate? Or can a Justice of the Peace incorporate some of these traditions?

October 12, 2010 at 1:59 pm #5109

Debbie B.

Yes, any officiant can include Jewish traditions. It may not have been clear that the first paragraph of the article means that according to traditional Jewish law, a rabbi is not needed for a Jewishly valid marriage. If both husband and wife are not Jewish, then a Jewishly legal religious marriage is not possible, but you can include whatever elements of a Jewish wedding you want into your ceremony.

When I got married 23 years ago, I was not Jewish, so that is just what we did. We were married by my husband’s best man’s father who is a federal judge. We had a beautiful handcrafted “ketubah like document”, a flower covered arbor suggestive of a huppah, my husband wore a kippah and said in English the Jewish wedding vow “you are consecrated to me with this ring”, and he stomped on a glass at the end. When I finally converted, less than 2 years ago, we had a very small religiously valid Jewish wedding with a real ketubah in Aramaic and officiated by the rabbi with whom I studied for conversion. However, our old KLD still hangs prominently in our living room. It is still meaningful after all, and the rabbi was thoughtful enough to note the significance of our many year of secular marriage when he said a few words at our Jewish wedding.

Just this past September, we attended the wedding of my husband’s best man. After dating many Jewish women, two of whom remain friends and were at the wedding, he ended up marrying a non-Jewish woman. They had a local judge (not his father) officiate and they too had a “KLD”. I was honored by being asked to sign it as one of two witnesses. Interestingly enough, I would not have signed a real ketubah because I am traditional in Jewish observance and do not consider myself a valid Jewish witness because I am female and I observe Shabbat with Conservative leniencies. The wedding had a canopy that was in the traditional form of a huppah: a cloth held up by four poles. And our friend stomped on a glass.

Best wishes in creating a wedding ceremony that is meaningful for all involved: the two people getting married and their families and friends. I think that is really the most important thing. The traditional religious wedding ceremonies are simply the default ways to do this. But a non-traditional wedding can actually allow for a more personal ceremony.

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