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.
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.