Why Was Finding A Rabbi So Difficult?

Earlier, I talked about our search for a rabbi willing to not only officiate an interfaith wedding, but one also willing to co-officiate with a Methodist minister. Going into the search, I knew it would be difficult. Eight years earlier, my sister had gone through the same search, with no luck, but I was hopeful. The big question in my mind is: why is it so difficult? Why are more rabbis not willing to participate?

There are many articles here at InterfaithFamily.com that address this question, and it seems that for most it is a very personal decision, one that is reached after a great deal of consideration. Mostly, it seems that it comes down to their interpretation and understanding of their rabbinical function, and whether that allows them to perform interfaith wedding ceremonies. For others, their decision might be based on their congregation’s desires. And still others might be willing to officiate an interfaith ceremony, but only if the couple meets a certain list of conditions. Finally, there are those rabbis who are willing to officate and even co-officiate interfaith weddings with no strings attached, except for perhaps one connected to a rather large price tag (most of these rabbis are not in it for the money, but you should be aware that there are some who do not have your best interest at heart). No matter the rabbi’s decision, I think that it is important for those of us entering into an interfaith marriage to respect that decision, and that for those rabbis who choose not to officiate interfaith weddings, that interfaith couples don’t take the decision personally. As Rabbi Steven Foster’s article states in the title: “It’s Not about You, It’s About Me: Why I Don’t Perform Interfaith Weddings.”

Rather than listing all of the other articles that I’ve found helpful in pondering this question, I’ll simply provide a link to the entire collection: Rabbis and Interfaith Weddings.

We’d be very interested in hearing others’ comments and experiences on this.

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2 thoughts on “Why Was Finding A Rabbi So Difficult?

  1. I am glad you wrote this article because I am having a hard time finding a Rabbi that will marry us. I am Jewish but my Fiancé is not. I was raised Orthodox for the most part of my life. For some unknown reasons I let my traditions go a little bit , but as I get older and now getting married and hopefully being blessed with a family in the future I want to bring back some of my traditions .
    You said something in your article that really helped me, the title of Rabbi Steven Foster’s article “It’s Not about You, It’s About Me: Why I Don’t Perform Interfaith Weddings.” That came at a good time because I started to feel like a bad Jewish, because no Rabbi wanted to marry us. But now I see it in a different light and it has helped me understand why. So the search goes on and I hope I will find a Rabbi that will marry us.
    Lisa

  2. This last interchange warmed my heart. I am moved when people can create clear supportive statements when times have been hard for them. The two of you are a positive part of the reason the rabbinic and cantorial world is changing to support interfaith couples getting married. When rabbis and cantors who are not officiating at interfaith weddings meet with interfaith couples who can both help them see that they are open to and welcoming Jewish ritual and prayer at this impoortant point in their lives, at the same time as respecting a rabbi or cantors choice to not officiate, you touch their soul.
    While it is extreemly important for rabbis and cantors to be respectful of an interfaith couple’s choice to marry, and we at interfaithfamily.com are working hard to help with that process, it is as important for couple’s to respect the choices and struggles of jewish clergy who are comming to terms with a relatively new choice in American culture. Interfaith marriage is new to the American scene as of the last 25 years or so. It is only after a civil rights struggle and the ability to mix with the rest of Americans that Jews could even think of marrying someone not Jewish, and so to others marrying Jews.
    I wish both of you well in your weddings and married life, and lisa, if you are still looking for a rabbi and haven’t filled out our http://www.interfaithfamily.com/findarabbi survey, you can do that and we will let you know if there are any rabbis or cantors in your area who do officiate and co-officiate.
    Rabbi Lev Baesh, InterfaithFamily.com

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