Common Ground for Jewish-Christian Weddings
Hebrew for "document," a legal document that is both a prenuptial agreement and a certification that a Jewish marriage has taken place.
Hebrew for "canopy" or "covering," the structure (open on all four sides) under which a Jewish wedding ceremony takes place. In its simplest for, it consists of a cloth, sheet, or tallit stretched or supported over four poles.
A co-officiated or mixed Jewish-Christian wedding offers many opportunities for the couple to honor both of their traditions and make all their guests feel welcome. Some of the rituals that guests, and officiants, of both faiths, may welcome and can be a beautiful addition to any wedding are:
- Lighting of a Unity Candle. This modern Protestant tradition involves three candles. The mothers of the couple each light one of the taper candles. During the ceremony, the members of the couple each take one of the taper candles and light the pillar candle together. This ritual is not traditionally part of Jewish weddings, but candles are a significant part of Jewish practice, so it is unlikely to offend Jewish guests.
- The pronouncement. The announcement that so-and-so and so-and-so are now "married in the sight of God, this community and all people everywhere" (or other such words) is perfectly acceptable to Jewish guests, although not part of Jewish tradition.
- The assent of the congregation. This Christian tradition of asking the guests whether they support the couple does not conflict with Jewish tradition, and in fact reinforces the Jewish idea that a wedding requires witnesses to make it legal.
- Vows. Spoken vows are not traditionally Jewish because they are covered by the language in the ketubah, and they are close in spirit to the declarations associated with the ring ceremony. However, many couples incorporate vows in a Jewish wedding as this is the custom of many weddings in Europe and the Americas, and therefore are familiar to Jewish families and guests.
- Breaking the glass. While unfamiliar to Christian guests, this tradition is rarely offensive to them.
- Use of the huppah. This is not a Christian tradition, but everyone seems to appreciate this beautiful addition to the wedding ceremony.
- The ketubah. Many interfaith couples now incorporate ketubahs into the ceremony. The wording can include mention of both partners' faiths and their discussion of how they plan to handle potential religious impact/issues in the family.
- Circling. The circling of one member of the couple around the other, or each circling around the other, is a beautiful ritual that can be done with music playing, singing, or in silence.
The Guide to Wedding Ceremonies for Interfaith Couples is also available in PDF and Word formats.