Post # 1
My fellow Jewish brides, I need your help.
My parents grew up in the Soviet Union and were chastised for being Jews, so they hid it from the people around them as much as they could. When they came to America, I guess they never began practicing the traditions but were still proud of being Jewish. In turn, I never grew up celebrating the Jewish holidays or attending synagogue. It is one of my regrets but there is always time to start. But I always respected my heritage.
Anyway, this all goes to say that now I am about to marry the love of my life and we would like a Jewish ceremony. Yet I don’t know where to start in looking for a Rabbi.
When my grandfather died we had a cantor speak at the service and he was marvelous. He translated in both English and Russian a speech I wrote and could not read out loud. He read it so beautifully that I will never forget it. My mom found out that he does preside over weddings and I’m interested. She has given me his number and I would like to call him, but I have a few questions.
Can cantors preside over the ketubah signing? Are they ok to have in place of Rabbis? How would I address a cantor formally when I speak with him on the phone? Do I refer to him as Rabbi so and so or Cantor so and so or just by Mr.?
I know that Rabbis sometimes provide the chupah and some even provide the ketubah locally. Is it the same with cantors?
Thanks so much in advance for answering my silly questions.
Post # 3
Hi! Congrats on your wedding! How exciting that you have a place to start — the cantor! I would definitely contact him. I don’t think in most cases that cantors are Rabbis, so as long as you’re sure he wasn’t a rabbi (keep in mind that Rabbis can chant prayers beautifully too, so is there a chance it was a rabbi at the funeral?), I’d go ahead and refer to him as Cantor so and so. Depending on personality, he may tell you you can call him by name once you know eachother, but it’s a good place to start.
Im not sure if a cantor can do the ketubah ceremony. I would use that cantor to find a rabbi that fits your needs (reform, conservative, orthodox, etc.) and the rabbi can answer questions about what he requires.
As for the chuppah and ketubah, around us the florist provides the chuppah and we purchase our own ketubah. It would be nice if the rabbi would take care of all of that for you, but keep in mind you might want to customize one or both to fit you as a couple.
Sorry I don’t have all the answers, but I hope I helped in some way!
Post # 4
I am/was in the same situation. My family came from the Soviet Union and never really reconnected with our religion but still respect our heritage and the culture.
To answer your question about finding a rabbi. FI and I basically looked for local listings on websites that have wedding vendors. we interviewed a lot of rabbis and some even referred us to others that may have been a better fit. Eventually we found one we loved through this method.
I believe that a cantor can officiate a wedding and preside over the signing of a ketubah. However I would just double check when you speak to him. I’m not really sure how to address them though.
Where are you located?
eta: I forgot to mention that here, rabbis do not provide the chuppah or ketubbah. Our florist is making and decorating our chuppah and we are purchasing the ketubbah ourselves.
Post # 5
@Meowkers: Glad to know I’m not alone. Sometimes I feel so disconnected. I can’t imagine what my parents and grandparents went through so I want to respect the traditions in some way. And maybe start up on more of them.
Thanks for the responses, girls. They were really, really helpful!
I’m from the Philly area, Meowkers. I’ve found one female rabbi (who, for some reason, my FI is against) on the boards who actually includes the chuppah and ketubah. I’d never seen that before and didn’t know it was standard. But I guess it’s not, huh? All good, though. I know we’ll find someone
Post # 6
A cantor can definitely conduct a wedding. Under Jewish law, a Jewish ceremony does not need an officiant at all–just the couple and the witnesses to the ketubah. Under civil law, either a rabbi or a cantor can conduct the ceremony.
If the cantor doesn’t have a chuppah and a ketubah, you can get your own. We made the chuppah for our ceremony, and the one for my son’s ceremony was also DIY. Just Google “DIY chuppah,” and you will find lots of examples and instructions. Or a lot of florists and rental stores can rent you a chuppah.
For a ketubah, check out your nearest Jewish bookstore. You can also find one online, but it’s easier to visualize one you can see in person than one of which you see only a small photo.
Below are pictures of our chuppah and our ketubah. The ketubah is the “Embrace” ketubah from 20th Century Illuminations.
Post # 7
A cantor presided over our wedding – same cantor that was my bat mitzvah tutor. It’s also nice knowing if you want them to sing, they can do it!
Our florist provided the chuppah – perfect because we didn’t have to worry about anything. I think most florists in/near urban areas would be able to do that.
And we got our ketubah from Etsy – there are TONS there to look over or to find an artist that can do custom work. If you’re attached to another languague, maybe they can write russian poems or something on it? We have a custom one : http://www.etsy.com/listing/69666196/reserved-jess-and-michael-talmud-ketubah