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Finding a Rabbi or Cantor to Officiate at an Interfaith Wedding

Return to the Guide to Wedding Ceremonies for Interfaith Couples.

 

While some rabbis and cantors officiate at interfaith weddings, their participation in interfaith weddings is a controversial issue in the American and world Jewish community. Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to find a rabbi or cantor to officiate at your interfaith wedding. You can fill out our officiation request form at and we can help you locate someone who may be available in your area.

We also know of rabbis and cantors that are often willing to travel to accommodate your needs if you can't find someone closer.

You should be aware that many rabbis and cantors may have conditions for the couple to fulfill or consider prior to agreeing to officiate. Some conditions include: a promise to raise children as Jewish; enrollment in an introductory Judaism class beginning prior to the wedding; a promise from the non-Jewish partner to convert; no co-officiation with a clergy person from another faith tradition; a ceremony that does not occur in a place of worship of another religion; membership in the rabbi or cantor's synagogue if they are affiliated with one.

Many rabbis and cantors, especially in the Reform and Reconstructionist movement, may decline to officiate but will refer you to someone who does or lend a sympathetic ear and offer a welcome for you and your spouse into their community. No one Jewish officiant or even many officiants stand for their entire movement or affiliating associations and institutions. While finding clergy to officiate or co-officiate an interfaith wedding may be difficult, it is not impossible. With adequate time and patience, an officiant of quality may be found.

Each Jewish movement has a different policy on intermarriage, so it is helpful to know what movement your desired rabbi or cantor hails from. Here is summary of each movement's policy on officiation at intermarriages:

  • Reform movement--The association of Reform rabbis and cantors discourages its members from officiating at intermarriages, but does not forbid it. Recent surveys suggest roughly half will officiate at an interfaith wedding. A few will co-officiate with clergy of another faith.
  • Conservative movement--Conservative rabbis and cantors are forbidden to officiate at intermarriages. If they officiate, they risk losing their membership in the Conservative rabbinical and cantorial association. 
  • Reconstructionist movement--The rabbinical association of the Reconstructionist movement feels it is not appropriate for rabbis or cantors to officiate at interfaith weddings, although they may participate in some capacity. Recent surveys suggest roughly half will officiate at an interfaith wedding. Reconstructionist rabbis and cantors are forbidden from co-officiating at interfaith weddings with clergy of another faith, although some do.
  • Secular Humanistic Jewish movement--Nearly all Secular Humanistic rabbis and cantors will officiate at intermarriages. Many will co-officiate with clergy of another faith. Their tradition, however, is to offer a ceremony that has limited or no "God" references.
  • Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox movements--These rabbis and cantors are forbidden to officiate at an interfaith wedding.

 

Your best bet for finding a rabbi or cantor is filling out InterfaithFamily.com's Officiation Request Form, at /officiationrequest. InterfaithFamily.com has access to many rabbis across the country, that officiate and co-officiate at interfaith weddings. This referral and support services are free.

A rabbi, cantor, priest or minister also qualifies to perform weddings under state, federal and many international legal systems. Consult the courts of the jurisdiction you're getting married in for restrictions and limitations on who may officiate at your wedding. Many states also allow family members and friends to officiate at weddings.

The Guide to Wedding Ceremonies for Interfaith Couples is also available in PDF and Word formats.

Derived from the Greek word for "assembly," a Jewish house of prayer. Synagogue refers to both the room where prayer services are held and the building where it occurs. In Yiddish, "shul." Reform synagogues are often called "temple."
InterfaithFamily

InterfaithFamily is the premier resource supporting interfaith couples exploring Jewish life and inclusive Jewish communities. We offer educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and our new InterfaithFamily/Your Community initiative providing coordinated comprehensive offerings in local communities.

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