Commonly Asked Questions About Weddings
Why do you think that Judaism is so concerned with interfaith marriage?
Since the 1980’s the rate of Jews choosing non-Jewish spouses has hovered between 40-50%. Up to that point the Jewish community reacted negatively to that development. It was believed that intermarriage would threaten the existence of the American Jewish community. However, by 2006 there is a consensus that the time has come to confront the challenge with constructive solutions.
Why do you officiate at interfaith weddings?
The answer is really two-fold. The first is to validate the desire of the Jewish partner to stay connected to his/her faith, people, and culture. The second is to welcome the non-Jewish partner into the Jewish community to the extent they feel comfortable.
What are the major issues in locating a cantor or rabbi for my interfaith ceremony?
First, all Orthodox and Conservative rabbis and cantors as well as most Reform and Reconstructionists will routinely refuse to officiate at interfaith ceremonies. There is, however, a legitimate group from the latter denominations that will officiate. The major issue seems to be the wide variety of conditions that dictate officiation. Suffice it to say, few rabbis and cantors will officiate with the broad latitude that most couples desire.
What is your level of experience?
I have been officiating at weddings for over 15 years. I have performed hundreds of weddings from traditional Jewish to Interfaith to Non-Denominational to civil.
How far will you travel to my ceremony?
I generally am called on to officiate at weddings in the Tri-State region, but will gladly (time permitting) travel to the location of your choice. I have performed weddings in Bermuda, Aruba and Spain among other distant locations.
As a Cantor, do you sing as well as speak during the ceremony?
Absolutely. if the bride and groom like. The old adage, “Music speaks louder than words” might well apply here. People respond to music; it reaches them. If desired, I can sing a song in English, Hebrew, Spanish, Italian or just about any language. Other times I will simply chant the blessings. As I’ve said, this is your wedding, you decide what works best.
Can you recommend music for the processional that’s in keeping with the ecumenical flavor of our wedding?
Absolutely. I can sing during the processional either a cappella or with guitar in hand (if desired) or I can provide you with a CD of various selections I have downloaded which I recommend. There are so many beautiful choices– love songs and popular ballads, and of course, the traditional Mendelssohn Wedding March for either the processional or recessional.
Where and when will you officiate?
While the ideal, in my opinion, is a neutral location, I recognize that the beauty and aura of a House of Worship may be preferable to some couples. I will officiate at weddings any day and time except for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
When do we sign the Marriage Application and the Ketubah?
The Marriage Application and the Ketubah can be signed by your chosen witnesses during the marriage service. Do not confuse the marriage service with the wedding ceremony.
The marriage service is private, usually held in a small, but separate room, away from the guests, about 15 minutes prior to the wedding ceremony. The bride and groom and their immediate families, plus those who you will be honoring as witnesses should be present. Witnesses to the marriage certificate from the state can be any two people you choose. Witnesses to the Ketubah can be either men or women or one of each, who are not blood relatives to either the bride or groom. The actual marriages take place here and once the witnesses sign you are legally married.
Do not forget to have the civil marriage application with you at this time. I cannot marry you without it. Keep the marriage application together with the return envelope and papers that come with it.
Recently, a member of my family or close friend has passed on. Is there any way you could mention their name during the ceremony?
In ancient days, this was not done. It was thought that mentioning the name of someone who has gone might bring a reminder of death to this joyous occasion. However, over time, as people have moved slowly into a time of tremendous spirituality, it is nearly normal to mention a person’s name as being here in spirit.