Will the Right Rabbi Please Stand Up!

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.

-Alx

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7 thoughts on “Will the Right Rabbi Please Stand Up!

  1. I don’t even know why you’re looking for a rabbi. You sound so full of resentment about rabbis, and male rabbis at that, that I think you should forgo the whole rabbi business and get a justice of the peace, for heaven’s sake. Give me a break!

  2. Transcending differences and embracing diversity is the essence of this blog, as well as the key in ensuring the success of an interfaith family. This concept may be progressive and, unfortunately, may be offensive to some; however, the beginning of that conversation is the reason for blogs like this.

    We write these posts so that we can talk about the ups and downs and feelings and opinions of this process. A process and life that encourages you to understand, accept, and surpass differences. I am Jewish. My fiancé is not. I want a Rabbi. My fiancé does not. This is a huge challenge that we face amongst others in our daily lives but we embrace each other’s opinions with respect and love. Whether female or male, Reconstructionist or Reform, whether black or white, tall or short, we are looking for a Rabbi that is right for us who parallels our values and supports our efforts.

    We are working towards something that is great, and we are doing it one day at a time.

    -Alx

  3. Just curious if you are also looking for a priest/officiant, since you state in your comments that your wife doesn’t want a rabbi.

    If you are looking to have a wedding experience that will truly parallel your values, then it would seem that two officiants (a rabbi and other officiant) is what the situation calls for.

    Otherwise, what is really occuring is an attempt to create an experience that really serves just the Judaism aspect, with perhaps some minor reference to your fiancee’s background. Since you already have a child and raising him Jewish, if the idea of the marriage is for the two of you, then there should be as equal a blending as possible. And if you truly feel that way, then if you never find a rabbi you truly like, that doesn’t preclude having Jewish aspects at the wedding to suit your and your family’s taste – imho.

    Good luck.

  4. Alx

    I know a rabbi who might work for you, but he is male. He truly understands interfaith relationships, but what do you want? You need to determine your needs. All too often we focus on the wedding and not the marriage. Any rabbi, male or female, as well as any good Christian minister/priest or other officiant of any faith tradition, will want to know that you have sound marriage ideas.

    I am intermarried and my husband and I are both active in each other’s faith traditions. When we met with the rabbi who assisted us in our marriage ceremony (a last minute crisis cause her to miss the ceremony) we met with her to discuss both of our faith lives. she did not ask me (as the non-Jew) to give up my faith, but rather how my faith would integrate with my husband’s. We are both considered devote practitioners of our faiths, yet he is Jewish and I am Catholic.

    Before you can realistically discuss this issue with any rabbi who might be willing to perform an interfaith wedding and there are more than you think, you have to answer som hard questions for yourselves. You say you want to do both Jewish and Christian traditions. What does that mean to you? Why is it important to you? Why does your fiance not want a rabbi? How active is your fiance in his faith? how do you intend to reconcile these differnceThese are issues any caring officiant would want to have answers too.

    My husband and I have no children, but you and your intended appear to have made the choice to raise the child Jewish. Why? Are you merely wanting to expose your child to the commercial/secular aspects of Christmas, etc. or are you wanting to give your child faith information too?

    These are hard questions, and I hope you already have given them a great deal of thought. If I can help you, please let me know. When it works it is a beautiful thing.
    I wish you well in your search.

  5. Hi Stephanie. Thank you for your insight. We are not looking for a co-officiant for the wedding because I do not subscribe to any organized religion. I am a spiritual person but I do not have a set theology.

    Alx feels that he can only be married by a Rabbi so I agreed with the disclaimer that it had to be a Rabbi that supported interfaith marriage as well as shared in our ideology. To my surprise that is a tough thing to find.

    You hit the nail on the head when you stated “what is really occuring is an attempt to create an experience that really serves just the Judaism aspect”. This dilemma has been the hurdle in our journey to the Huppah. How do we avoid it being an overwhelmingly Jewish wedding with my other “stuff” just sprinkled-in here and there?

    Alx has bent over backwards to make sure that I am comfortable with every aspect of the ceremony. This is why he has gone on the ultimate quest for our perfect Rabbi. For me, it is not so much that the officiant is a Rabbi or not. Since I am without organized religiousity, the ideology of the person is my focus. I feel strongly that the person who marries us should believe in and support the same things that we do. If that person does not share in our ideology, then what is the point in that person marrying us?

    However, our quest might not be in vain. We have met with a Rabbi who seems promising but you’ll have to read all about that in my next post…:)

  6. I would be more than happy to discuss with you the possiblity of performing your wedding. I am a male rabbi and I have performed a number of intermarriages, both with catholic, buddist and spiritual individuals. I have also coofficited and served alone. If you would contact me, I will discuss this further. Lets make your wedding a meaningful affair for both of you.

  7. Dear Alex and Lu: I have read with interest your thoughts and concerns relating to your marriage ceremony. I don’t know why you are so intent on a rabbi marrying you, when your mom (Alex) certainly would be my choice. I am certain Michele is on the same page with your feelings toward your life together as an intermarried couple. I think she would be the most logical choice. She officiated beautifully at Bradley’s wedding and I am sure she would do as well at yours. The fact that you are raising your son Jewish is to me a much better plan than some parents who say they will have both religions and then let their child choose when he gets older. I believe a child needs some guidance and, if in fact, he decides along the way to change his religious views, that is then a choice he can intelligently make. Whatever you decide, I wish you well and I am sure your ceremony will be a meaningful affair.

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