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As you’ve learned from Alx’s last post, we have been on a difficult journey in our quest to find our perfect rabbi. Therefore, even though I try to always keep an open mind, I went into our meeting with Rabbi Yitzhak Nates with a small level of skepticism.
Rabbi Nates greeted us kindly and warmly at his front stoop with his lovely dog, Buster. One point for Rabbi Nates, I love dogs. The first thing he said when he saw Alx, me, and our son Raiden was “how wonderful! The whole family is here! This is great!”. Two points for Rabbi Nates, I loved that he loved that my son was in attendance. Okay I know what your thinking, I hadn’t planned on having any sort of point system but when your sole purpose to meeting someone is to essentially judge them it’s kind of inevitable.
We were welcomed into Rabbi Nates home with open arms. We met his lovely wife and absolutely adorable daughter. Rabbi Nates was very laid-back and matter-of-fact which made me feel completely at ease. He started out the conversation by asking us to talk a little bit about ourselves and then reciprocated with his own background. Topics broached were wedding plans, my cultural background, Alx’s ties to Judaism, raising our son, diversifying the ceremony, and so on.
The meeting lasted about two and a half hours but it felt like fifteen minutes. Alx and I both felt that we could of just sat and chatted with Rabbi Nates all day. On our trek home, I realized that this is what I loved about him most. The fact that I didn’t feel as if it were any sort of interview or interrogation. It just felt like a nice, calm, Saturday afternoon visit with a friend. The experience just felt right.
Rabbi Nates gave me hope again. After months of no matches, I was starting to feel like an eHarmony reject. January is booked full of meeting after meeting with rabbis amongst several other wedding appointments (I’m totally looking forward to the tasting!). My outlook is much more positive towards this aspect of our wedding now. We don’t know if Rabbi Nates is The One yet, but he is the one that restored our confidence in finding The One.
Our search for the right rabbi is making me nutty. It seems to be this detailed and intricate journey where each turn has its own set of rules to navigate. Each rabbi that I speak to turns our trajectory in a new direction and makes me think about what we are REALLY after. I still haven’t found the answer.
Our lives are so simple, and this seems so complicated. I’m Jewish. Lu is not.
We want a wedding that embraces that Judaism but isn’t ALL about it. I mean, as a couple, we’re not ALL Jew. We want to pay tribute to the fact that there are two of us entering into this commitment. Two people–with two belief systems, and two culturally distinct backgrounds. Yes. We have a Jewish son, who will have Jewish education and eat his mother’s matzah ball soup with a smile on (and, in our family, with chopsticks!)
But does that mean that we can’t show him what Christmas is? Does he have to live in a house that is ONLY Jewish, when his parents aren’t only Jewish?
No. Guys. The answer is no.
Raiden will know the culture of both of his parents. He will grow up experiencing the same feelings that we felt as children. Lula when she found that Easter egg and me when I found that afikomen. How great were those moments!?
So here is my thought process on the whole ordeal. Interfaith marriage puts the couple into a game of statistics. The 2000-01 National Jewish Population Survey says that only 1/3 of intermarried couples will raise Jewish Children. And the truth is that, as Jews, we want to see our faith carried on for generations to come. We want to continue for as long as the human race. So would a Rabbi marry a couple from two faiths with those numbers stacked against them?
So. Ok. It’s a gamble. How would the rabbi who marries us KNOW that we will raise a Jewish family? I mean. She could take our word for it.
Here is the part that is problematic in our situation. We have a child. We have a JEWISH child. So wouldn’t the continuation of Judaism in our family be a given? Wouldn’t that then make our marriage secondary—since we have already fulfilled the pre-requisite for a Jewish future?
We have hope that we will find the right rabbi for us. She is out there and we will work as hard and look as far as we have to, to find her. She is waiting for our little family to tell us that our love for each other is paramount and that we are on the path to one long and happy life together.
Thanks for letting me rant.
So I know what you’re thinking…she’s a graphic designer so her wedding is going to look FABULOUS. Well, that is what I was thinking too, however, reality set-in as we started trying to plan this beast of an event. Planning an event of this magnitude is a painful, tedious process in itself. We not only have the daunting task of planning it but also incorporating the right balance of, well, of us.
The essence of our relationship lies in a fine balance of tolerance, respect, and admiration for the others’ culture and beliefs. Wedding planning is the type of situation in which that balance is often pushed, pulled, and challenged in every way possible. As a conservative Jew, Alx has very specific things that are a must for his big day: a rabbi, a chuppah, the breaking of the glass, the horah, to name a few. You would think that this wouldn’t bother me since I actually don’t subscribe to any organized religion; however, that is very far from the truth. The issue isn’t that I don’t want these rituals in our nuptials. The issue is how to embrace and incorporate all of them without it becoming strictly a Jewish wedding.
We found out quite quickly that it all comes down to a lot of long, hard discussions. I truly believe our saving grace is our bond of love and respect for each other. We disagree, we fight, we cry, we make-up and ultimately we work it out. One of the harder aspects has been the quest for a rabbi. It can’t just be any rabbi. It has to be a rabbi that is comfortable doing interfaith weddings who we are comfortable with. This is no easy task. In fact, we are still in the midst of that journey.
I’m also having a bit of trouble pinning down rituals that I want to include from my culture. Since I come from such a diverse background, it isn’t so easy for me. This type of thing is very black & white for Alx. I have to admit that it is a point of frustration to not be able to just rattle off a list of rituals and be done with it. I’m sure it’s as equally frustrating for Alx when he asks what I want to incorporate and doesn’t really get an answer. All I know is that I don’t want it to be a strictly Jewish wedding because it’s my wedding too and frankly, I’m not Jewish.
To top off all of the challenges that we already face, I’m just not into being a bridezilla. I am not the type of woman who had her wedding planned since she was a little girl. Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, my wedding dress is the first dress I tried on from the first store I walked into. My wedding shoes are the first pair of shoes that my Maid of Honor stuck in front of my face and said “these are cute”. I don’t like tulle, lace, pink, frilly stuff, or even most flowers.
I am the ultimate anti-bride.
This does not make wedding planning easy. Although in my defense, Alx knew what he was getting into. Our first Valentine’s Day he got me a paper shredder. That’s when I knew he was The One. So after months of feeling like I’ve been drowning in all things girlie, I decided to approach the situation like I would any of my design projects. I made concept boards.
Concept Board 1: Visualization of table decor
Concept Board 2: Diagram of garden for ceremony
I’ve found that this approach has helped immensely. I’ve also created spreadsheets for tasks, timelines, vendors, and our invitation list. The “project” has definitely morphed into something completely different than when we started planning a few months ago. We began with a very laid back approach to the whole wedding but it has since become a bit more upscale. It’s not super fancy but is also isn’t the laid back B-B-Q idea that we originally started with.
Decor That Died: My first attempt at wedding decor. I was trying to stick with our ideals of “reduce, reuse, recycle” so I reused Raiden’s baby food jars for tea light candle holders. That got recycled…
In keeping with my approach as a designer, I’ve come-up with a main concept or theme for our wedding. It’s basically, all the things we love: my favorite colors, his commitment to Judaism, my love of minimalism, our love of books, our love of nature, our love of just having a good time. Our love of nature is what led us to agree on a centerpiece.
Our Minimalist Artsy Centerpiece: The pic doesn’t do it justice. It’s willow branches with little insects, birds, and bright yellow beads on the branches. The vase is filled with iridescent, glass marbles mixed with miniature seashells (my hometown is a beach town).
Centerpiece Concept Board: Of course I had a concept board for the centerpiece!
The process is coming along slowly but we are well on our way to a wedding! Now we just need to work out all of those kinks with the rituals but I’ll save that for the next post.
It dawned on me this afternoon as I was finally able to log into the blog as an author for the first time that most of you will probably know nothing about us. Yes. I know. You have read our articles here before, and you have spent many a bored workday looking at our Facebook profiles, but you haven’t formally met us.
Well. Nice to meet you.
I’ll just start by saying that it is an honor for Lula and me to be able to share our thoughts and feelings about our impending nuptials with the interfaithfamily, family.
So Lula was brought up in a family that didn’t stick strictly to a single faith. Her Japanese mother was influenced as a child by Christian missionaries. Her Trinidadian/French Father was brought us in a southern Baptist family in Texas. What a world! When they started their family during the Vietnam War, I don’t think that they put too much thought into religiosity. What that left were children who celebrated Christmas and had maybe had an Easter ham or two.
I was born and raised as a Jew from a Jewish family. Too much food. I still have the belly to prove it. We were brought up in the conservative movement where I have pretty much stayed. I work for the Jewish Publication Society here in Philadelphia and couldn’t love it more. I wouldn’t call my self observant, but Lula might. I feel like I learn more about Judaism each day and each time I learn more, I relate better.
We have a son, Raiden who is also Jewish just like his pop. Rai is almost 10 months old and will be 16 months when we tie the knot on June 7th 2009 here in Philadelphia.
I think that we will have much to say. I feel like this wedding is a process that comes along inch by inch every day.
We look forward to chronicling the journey here.
See you soon!
I’m very pleased to introduce our new wedding bloggers, Lula Jones and Alx Block. Lula and Alx have each written for us at InterfaithFamily.com. They each wrote a piece about their baby Raiden’s bris and baby naming and Lula also wrote about attending the funeral and shivah for Alx’s grandfather.
Lula is an independent graphic designer and Alx is a sales associate at the Jewish Publication Society. That was how I got to know them–I contacted JPS to get review copies of some books and was delighted to discover two new writers!
Like many couples getting married today, Lula and Alx are in an established relationship. The wedding ceremony is a way for them to formalize their commitment to each other. They met in Philadelphia when they were working together in a bookstore more than six years ago, and they have lived together for three years. I’m excited that they are going to share their thoughts here on InterfaithFamily.com as they plan their wedding.
This was originally published as The Blogging Bride in InterfaithFamily.com’s Web Magazine.
All was ready. Downstairs, I could hear the string quartet tuning up as guests began to mill about and be seated. As I stood upstairs in the ballroom, I was surprised at how calm I felt. I had fully expected to be a nervous wreck by this time, but I just felt ready–ready to be married to the love of my life, ready to have a fun evening, ready to not be planning the wedding anymore!
Planning our interfaith wedding had been onerous at times, and I felt a little guilty at not being nervous. The rabbi and minister didn’t meet until an hour before the ceremony was to begin. They had talked via e-mail and on the phone about our ceremony, but they hadn’t met face-to-face. Shouldn’t that have made me nervous? What about the ceremony? It was different than any our families have ever witnessed before–should I have been nervous about how they’d react to it? Why wasn’t I?
Preparation… that’s why I didn’t feel nervous. Bryan and I spent the last nine months working diligently to make sure we got the wedding we wanted, but that respected our families’ wishes and traditions also. We chose a non-religious site, the historic YWCA building in downtown Fort Worth, and searched for a rabbi and minister willing to co-officiate.
It was beautiful. Everything was perfect. We got so many compliments on the ceremony itself–how unique it was, how touching, how meaningful, how inclusive it felt. More to come after the honeymoon.
de Playa del Carmen
Hello everyone… I guess the final countdown can officially begin! We’re in the final week before the wedding. Three more days of work, then it’s wedding event time. First, with the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, next up are the bachelor and bachelorette parties, then a day of rest, and finally the big day!
You would think that the big news of the weekend is that we picked up our wedding bands, but it isn’t. No, the big news this weekend is that we’ll be able to go on our honeymoon. You see, I don’t have a passport, at least not one that was issued within the last 10 years and while I was at least 16 (or something like that). Ten weeks ago I went to the local postoffice and submitted my passport application, feeling comfortable enough with the length of time we still had to not pay for the passport to be expedited. Well, after weeks of waiting, and really starting to stress over not having my passport, the online status page finally told me that it has been shipped, and that I should have it by this Wednesday. What a huge relief!
I strongly suggest that if there’s even a chance that you’ll be traveling outside of the country within the next 6 months, get your application in now. With the recent passport requirement changes, they are absolutely swamped with applications.
Oh…one other great thing from this weekend is the wedding gift from my dad and step-mom. They came over for dinner Saturday night and brought our gift with them–2 beautiful silver and gold shabbat candle holders, and a matching kiddush cup. Just in time for the wedding ceremony, too! I had just asked my dad the day before if they had a kiddush cup that we could use during the ceremony.
Have a great week!
The Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner are two weeks from today. It feels like there are still a million things to do, and only a handful of opportunities to do them. Of course, adding to the stress is work–if there are a million wedding things left to do, then there are at least a million and one tasks to do at work before the wedding and honeymoon! All of this said, the wedding day can’t get here fast enough. I am so excited, and so looking forward to spending the rest of my life with Julie.
Truth be told, I did have a butterfly episode a couple of weeks ago, but it involved the ceremony itself, not the marriage…
One of Julie’s bridesmaids got married recently, and Julie was in the wedding. Being the good guy that I am, I drove Julie to the church for the rehearsal, and watched and waited patiently while they rehearsed. Sitting there in the church sanctuary, watching them practice, I suddenly became very nervous. I wanted to go to the JP, or run off to Vegas…anything but having to stand up there in front of all those people, stumbling over everything I have to say! Oddly enough, as soon as the rehearsal was over, the butterflies were gone.
Let’s see…you know that we’ll have a rabbi and Methodist minister co-officiating our wedding ceremony, but we really haven’t talked much about the specifics of the ceremony, have we?
When we met with Rabbi Marc and his wife a few months ago, one of the things he offered to do, as part of his services, was to write a personalized ceremony for us, incorporating the various elements from both traditions that we’d previously discussed. What we ended up with was an inclusive ceremony that we hope will not make anyone uncomfortable, and should be unlike any ceremony that any of our guests have ever seen.
Some of the things we’ve included in the ceremony are: the 7 Jewish Wedding Blessings, the lighting of a unity candle, a reading from Corinthians 1:13 (I think, that’s right), Kiddush, and the smashing of a wine glass at the end. When we sign the marriage license for the state, we will also be signing an interfaith Ketubah. Also, instead of my parents walking me down the aisle, as is customary in a Jewish wedding, my two children will walk me down the aisle.
We feel really good about what we came up with, along with Rabbi Marc, and are eagerly awaiting the big day! If anyone is interested in the ceremony in greater detail, please leave a comment with a way to contact you.