Downton Abbey Portrays Reality of Interfaith RelationshipsBy Gerri Miller
Go inside Season 5 Episode 9 where the story line of Atticus and Rose's interfaith relationship comes to a head.Go To Pop Culture
The following series of events led us to the rabbi who will be co-officiating our ceremony. In a future post, I will get into why finding a willing rabbi was so difficult…
As soon as we had established that we wanted to have a rabbi and minister co-officiate our wedding, we began our search.
The first step we took was to contact the rabbi at one of the local synagogues (Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker at Congregation Beth Israel) and introduce ourselves. After a couple of email exchanges, we met with Rabbi Charlie in person. Among other things, we discussed our plans for the wedding and asked if he could provide any information regarding having a rabbi and minister co-officiate our wedding. He explained to us why he isn’t comfortable participating in the ceremony that we were planning, but emphasized that he was very happy to help us in any other way that he could, including helping us locate a rabbi, even though he’d just moved to Texas and didn’t really know any of the local rabbis.
We both felt immediately comfortable with Rabbi Charlie, and were really disappointed that he would not be able to co-officate the wedding, but we understood and respected his position. So, instead of co-officiating our ceremony, Rabbi Charlie is guiding us through pre-marital counseling, and we are attending an “Understanding Judaism” class that he leads.
After this first setback, I fired up my web browser and began to google for rabbis who were willing to co-officiate interfaith weddings. That search led us to this website, and specifically to Amy Rovin, the Community Connections Coordinator. She quickly replied to our inquiry and directed us to Renee Karp, the Program Director at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas. I emailed Renee, and she replied with the name of a rabbi in Dallas who does co-officaite weddings…unfortunately he was not available at the time we were hoping to have our wedding. It seemed like we’d reached a dead end.
After letting our second disappointment settle a little bit, I began the search again, with little success. Eventually, my Dad mentioned that he had run into the head rabbi at Temple Emanu-El, Rabbi David Stern, and that he had asked Rabbi Stern if he had heard from us regarding our search. He hadn’t, but he urged my Dad to have us give him a call. Unfortunately, Rabbi Stern was able to offer little more than what Rabbi Charlie had offered…fortunately, the “little more” was actually the name of a rabbi that he thought could help us, Rabbi Murray Berger.
I contacted Rabbi Berger and explained what we were looking for. While he certainly conducted interfaith ceremonies, he was reluctant to participate in a co-officiated ceremony. Just when it seemed that we’d reached another dead end, he gave us the name of another rabbi, Rabbi Marc Ben-Meir.
A quick call to Rabbi Ben-Meir confirmed that not only does he participate in interfaith weddings as a co-officiant, but he was also available for the date and time we were hoping for! Our search was over!
A couple of days later, we met Rabbi Marc and his wife for a lovely dinner. We talked about what we were looking for, and Rabbi Marc shared some of his experiences, and offered suggestions. All in all, it made for a very enjoyable experience, we had a rabbi, and we had a plan for our ceremony.
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