(Closed) Cultural Traditions but not Relgious? Jewish without a Rabbi?

posted 6 years ago in Interfaith
Post # 3
5096 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

Hey there! I was in a similar situation. We also had a friend officiate.  There were three Jewish traditions that we incorporated. Both parents walked me in. We had a chuppah (I picked out the fabric, a friend sewed it, and I borrowed the poles from a friend who’d recently gotten married). And after the ceremony, Darling Husband and I spent half an hour alone. I highly recommend it – it was so nice to have some alone time together during the wedding, since at no other point did we get to hang out much!

Also, we had our officiant include a few words about the significance of the chuppah to us. This is what we wrote:

The structure we are standing in is a chuppah.  This chuppah symbolizes the home A and B will build together. The roof provides protection and shelter. The four poles holding up the roof represent the love and support offered by friends and family.  The open walls symbolize A and B’s willingness to welcome others into their lives. 

Post # 4
672 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I’m fairly sure that most reform rabbis will marry interfaith couples. We chose a reform cantor to marry us, and are able to include all the Jewish traditions we would have had had we chosen a rabbi, we just get music too! No parts of a Jewish wedding HAVE to be done by a rabbi (at least that I’m aware of), like I said- a cantor is performing ours and we are doing the 7 blessings, circling, chuppah, ketubah, breaking of glass, the whole shebang! There is only 1 minor difference in one of the prayers/vows where we have to change something like “son of moses” to something else because Fiance is not Jewish.

I definitely recommend doing the Yichud- a time alone for you and your husband right after the ceremony (usually about ten minutes)- traditionally when the couple would consummate the marriage. I see it as the only alone time you and your husband really get during the wedding and just some time to process the ceremony and what just happened!

Post # 5
2580 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

I am Jewish and have some friends who have had interfaith weddings, most of them used “freelance” rabbis–if you live near a big city, you could probably do a Google search and find some rabbis who specialize in officiating interfaith weddings. I’m not an expert on if anything needs to be performed by a rabbi, but I think you should include anything that has meaning or significance to you.

@Monkey786:  We loved having the Yichud time, too–it was just 5 or 10 minutes where we could sort of catch our breath and spend some time together alone. We had a blast at our wedding, but it was a nice break from being pulled in every direction!

Post # 6
1747 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

@Monkey786:  We are also using a cantor and he is doing everything a rabbi would do.

I would read the book Jewish Weddings by Anita Diamant  to get a brief lesson on what Jewish weddings entail. I am in a similar boat as you being a cultural but not religious Jew, and I found it really helpful. 

Good luck! 🙂

Post # 7
200 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

We have an identical situation – I am reform Jewish, he is not, but does Christmas and easter. My mum wanted us to have a rabbi, we didn’t want one.

We found the only way round it was a humanist ceremony – totally non religious but they are happy to incorporate any cultural tradition you want. The civil ceremony doesn’t allow any cultural stuff as it might hint at religion. We are having a chuppah and breaking the glass, plus a Jewish-related reading. We’re actually writing the whole thing from scratch, incuding explanations about the Jewish elements for our non Jewish guests. You could check out the humanist association and see what you think, good luck!


Post # 9
672 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

@UA2Mizzou:  Try looking for a rabbi from a Reconstructionist temple. They will do interfaith too!

Post # 10
1628 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

@UA2Mizzou:  If you’re having trouble finding a chuppah they are easy to make, but you can also use the arch…as I recently learned a chuppah doesn’t actually need the 4 points.  

Traditionally also the ring placed on your finger during the ceremony is put on the right index finger (ancients thought it had some connection to the placement of the heart, like a vein connecting them but I can’t remember off the top of my head)

The breaking of the glass has many meanings but the most common are 1. it represents a break with the past and only looking to your future 2. may it be as hard to break your relationship as it would be to reassemble the smashed glass 3. to remember that even in our moment of extreme happiness, there are others suffering who can’t symbolically share wine with us

The 7 blessings are not required for a Jewish wedding nor do they require a rabbi (technically all that is would be 1. ketubah–before which the bride must declare she’s marrying of her own free will and not by coercion; 2. sex; 3. exchange where the groom gives to the bride something valued at at least 1 penny to put the ketubah contract in motion–usually the ring takes the role)…you might consider using the very last translated stanza as it speaks about love and marriage

Traditionally the parents stand with you under the chuppah, symbolizing how the families are being brought together as well

There is also the kabbalat panim which may be a fun way to greet many of your guests

hmmm, there really is a lot, and nearly ALL of it is tradition rather than religious mandate (see above, you only do 3 things to get married, all of which you’ve either said you’ll do or I  assume you’ll do lol)…also check out some of the cool things Sephardic/Mizrahi Jews do, I’m doing the henna ceremony but as part of my bachelorette party instead of the week of the wedding

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