Does Jewish Marriage Require a Rabbi?

There was a nice article in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent last week by Ryan Teitman called “Rabbi Deconstructs Marriage, in All Its Assorted Permutations.” It’s little more than a description of a Jewish marriage class taught by Rabbi Yair Robinson of Shir Ami-Bucks County Congregation, but it includes some little-discussed insights.

For example, the article points out “that a rabbi [is] not a necessary element in the Jewish wedding ceremony.” As counter-intuitive as it may seem, a Jewish wedding does not require a rabbi to make it binding.

Robinson also speaks about how “many couples are not saying that they are interfaith, but that they’re Jewish families with a non-Jewish partner,” and how that “warms my heart.”

While neither Robinson nor Shir Ami’s head rabbi officiate at intermarriages, he says both of them will help interfaith couples with all the prepatory work, “from assisting them in developing a marriage service to following up with the marriage plans as they develop.”

There’s not to much comment on here besides that Robinson sounds like a thoughtful, sensitive rabbi who does everything for interfaith families that his principles will allow. That’s worth celebrating.

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