There are a lot of books for planning weddings! I’m only going to mention my top favorites.

A book aimed specifically at interfaith weddings is, Celebrating Interfaith Marriage by Rabbi Devon Lerner. I wouldn’t be recommending this book if I thought it suggested watering down EVERYONE’s traditions. Rabbi Lerner walks you through the wedding traditions for both Jewish and Christian ceremonies. I encourage you to review all of them together. Discuss which ones speak to you, not your parents or friends, to you. I believe that your wedding will probably be a compromise with your family’s expectations but it should be the last time you put the extended family before your new nuclear family. Reading about the meaning of various customs can help you see ‘your’ cultural practice through the eyes of those who do not practice it. It will also help you to understand the power behind your partner’s customs.


The New Jewish Wedding
A modern book on Jewish weddings is Anita Diamant’s The New Jewish Wedding. She has only a few pages specifically on an interfaith wedding but the book is a good overview and the pages on intermarriage are worth reading. You can get the book from the library (ask for an interlibrary loan if your library doesn’t have a copy) just to browse through it.


An OLD book and favorite because it is so complete is The Jewish Wedding Book. There is nothing about interfaith weddings in it. But if you want to review all the traditions around Jewish weddings this works well as a primer.

This book, by Lilly S. Routtenberg and Ruth R. Seldin, is ‘a practical guide to the traditions and social proprieties of the Jewish wedding.’ Can’t you just picture these ladies in white gloves? This is a very thorough book. I loved the suggestions for what you can have engraved on your wedding rings. (Note to the ladies, traditional Jewish rings have no markings! At all!) Trust me, they cover everything.

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Sunday at the Pride Parade Keshet organized the synagogues to march together. There was LOTS of gaiety and exuberance. Rabbis around the bay are encouraging their LGBT members to give them a call and set a date for their wedding. Looking for a rabbi to officiate at your LGBT — and interfaith wedding? Give me a call! Dawn at 510-845-6420 x11.

Let the celebrations begin!

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Here’s a useful, basic article on planning a Jewish wedding. It covers finding an officiant, pre-marital counseling and picking the date. This would be the place to start very early on. Take a look here and then give me a call so we can discuss the various rabbis, cantors, maggids and lay officiants available in the Bay Area.

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In the short film, Shifting Traditions, three interfaith couples take three different approaches to religion in their family. Then the film maker speaks with some rabbis who reflect differing views on intermarriage. Is there a right and a wrong? Come see the film and discuss the choices and rewards that are open to every interfaith couple in today’s Jewish community.

Free, but please RSVP so we can get enough refreshments.

Date: Sunday, Feb. 13, 2013
Time: 9:30 to 11:30am – we’ll begin with bagels and chat.
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland, off Broadway.

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Trang & Ron

Of the many kinds of calls that I get, couples seeking a rabbi for their wedding is at the very top of the reasons list.  The caller is more frequently a woman, whether she is Jewish or not.  It could be because the woman is usually planning the wedding day, but I believe it is also because women are more comfortable opening a conversation that may involve some emotions.  Not that men can’t do that, but our culture discourages them from it.  The men who call me are usually in touch with their feelings.

Most of the callers make these three comments:

1. The non-Jewish partner is interested in Judaism but will not be converting.  (Although I have never inquired about conversion nor do the many rabbis I work with, this seems to be on the mind and in the conversation of most couples.) 

2. We want a rabbi to participate in the ceremony.  (But few have asked themselves, “why?”) 

3. We are worried that rabbis are going to be difficult to talk to, so we’re calling you.

1. Conversion
Conversion in Judaism must be an impulse of the heart.  In fact, converting people who are marrying Jews have in the past been forbidden since it was seen as an act of convenience that would be a disservice to the individual in the long term.  BUT it is very good and healthy that the couple has discussed it!  The more communication you’ve had, the better.  Knowing that the Jewish partner cares about this topic is important information to the non-Jewish partner.  Letting the Jewish partner know that this is not on the agenda is important information for the Jewish partner.

2. We want a rabbi… why?
There are many reasons to have a rabbi for your officiant.  But there are bad reasons along with the good ones.  Are you doing this solely to keep your dad or aunt from being angry at you?  Don’t start your life off in subjugation to someone else.  This may be the moment to say, NO.
Do you want a rabbi because you can’t imagine a wedding being “real” without one?  Good information for you to be aware of and share with your spouse-to-be!  It means that there are other “real” elements of Judaism that are going to pop up in your life and better to talk to your fiance now about both your, and their, cultural norms.

3. A rabbi will be difficult
I can’t think of a single rabbi in the entire bay area that is going to be a pill.  He or she may not be able or willing to perform your wedding but they will be helpful and decent.  But if you’ve had a bad experience, or you’d like a supporter – that’s my JOB!  So call me. 

What happens if you call me?
First, it’s free.  I know you’ve been making a list of the costs of your wedding, but calling me – as many times as you need – is FREE. 

The first thing I’m going to tell you is that each couple is unique.  I have to hear from you about you so that I can give you names and numbers for rabbis that I think fit you.  Just like picking your music, your flowers, your menu, the elements of your wedding reflect who you are.  The same will be true of your officiant. 

I have helped couples find rabbis in Florida and France.  But I am much more knowledgeable and helpful with bay area rabbis, cantors and officiants because I live here and know them.

Getting married?  Mazel tov!
Call me, I love talking to brides or grooms. 
(510) 845-6420  x11

You can listen to a podcast on this topic here.

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 What makes a wedding “Jewish”? How can we integrate elements from both our backgrounds? Where will we get an officiant? Do we want a rabbi? What are other couples doing? Where can we get a chuppah (wedding canopy) or a ketubbah (wedding contract)?


Join other interfaith couples to discuss the elements that make a wedding “Jewish.” We’ll talk about how to integrate family members, find an officiant and deal with delicate situations.


Want personalized advice? Give me a call or drop me an email.  We’ll make a time to talk before or after the workshop about YOUR wedding.


Date:   Sunday, March 15

Time:   10:15am – 11:45am

Cost:    $10/person; $15/couple

Place:   Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma St., Palo Alto

Co-sponsored with Lehrhaus, Congregation Etz Chayim, and Congregation Kol Emeth

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