FI now wants a Jewish wedding!?

posted 3 years ago in Interfaith
Post # 3
1332 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

It’s not unusual for people to pull back towards the faith of their upbringing at certain times in their lives. Major transitions can be a cause of that. Sometimes a person legitimately feels closer to God, sometimes they personally maintain agnostic/atheist views but feel that as a “proper” husband/wife/parent, they have to outwardly participate in a religion. Religion is complicated and you can’t assume that if someone appears to be areligious, that they plan to be so forever or that their views will not change. There’s also a lot of historical baggage tied up with Judasim and that might also be influencing him.

Now might be a good time to check in with each other about all this stuff. These types of conversations should be ongoing, not just one conversation at the beginning of dating and you figure that you’re done forever. 

Post # 4
3222 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2015

@nber0815:  It may not have seen important to your FH before, but when taking a traditional step in life (marriage), a lot of secular Jews begin to think about the cultural ways they can incorporate their family histories.

I’m an atheist, and quite removed from my orthodox Jewish extended family. I was raised an atheist by my parents, and didn’t take part in ANY Jewish customs and holidays. For my wedding, my mom has asked me to get a secular Ketubah (I didn’t even know what that was!) and to also include the chuppah. I’m cool with it because I think it’s a nice way to incorporate my cultural background. Yes, cultural, not religious.

Honestly, I liken it to an Indian person who has lived in North American for 3 generations wanting to incorporate saris into her wedding (assuming saris are a cultural artifact).  It doesn’t really have to do with religious for a lot of secular Jews, and I’m sure your FH feels similarly. Why not learrn about the various meanings and traditions, and incorporate them on an ad hoc bases? This is essentially what my FH (atheist, catholic family) will be doing. 

Post # 5
227 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

@nber0815:  Definitely not overreacting, it is important for you both to have a wedding that represents both of you and your comfort levlel of religion/culture.

My FI is also Jewish and I was brought up in a secular household though my Grandparents attend the United Church.

In our case it is me that wants to incorporate Jewish elements into the ceremony. I have been to Jewish weddings and I liked the chuppah and what it represents. During the ceremony the Rabbi stated that the chuppah is the first home of the couple, but you see that they do not have walls. They called up the family to stand around the couple with the significance being that they are your walls.

I loved that as family is so important to both of us. I also would like a ketubah but you can get them with non-religious wording or interfaith. They are beautiful works of art and the language of the contract is that you are choosing to love and respect your partner, some are very touching.

Having no traditions of my own that I want in the ceremony I am happy using those of my FI as I know it would make his parents happy and they are so good to me.

It will not be an overly religious ceremony, there will likey be some blessings but neither of us is religious so that will be kept to a minimum.

Our only issue is finding someone to perform the wedding as Rabbi’s will not as I am not converting. There are some Jewish Officiants that will allow you to incorporate specific elements which is what we are working on now (I’m in Toronto may be different in the US).

While I think it is important to give a nod to your cultural background it is most important that you are both comfortable with your ceremony.


Post # 7
1332 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

@nber0815:  Sorry, I saw that part after I posted. I misread and thought you said you HADN’T talked about it. For some reason the double negative confused me. I editted my post accordingly.

I understand how you feel because I had something similar happen in my relationship recently too. From hearing other people’s stories, this type of thing is not uncommon. 

Post # 8
2562 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

There must be a happy medium you two can come to.

The way I explained it to my FI was that I was uncomfortable getting married in a church, because I feel it would be lying to imply that I wanted any religion in our marriage right off the bat… and I didn’t want our marriage to begin on false pretenses.

He and I found an officiant who can blend a few traditional and non-traditional elements to create a ceremony we’re comfortable with.

But what I did for FI was print out several ceremonies – completely custom, Lutheran, Catholic, genereic Christian, etc.; and also a description and examples of some rituals I found toughtful (i.e. a flower ceremony and handfasting) but not religious.
I aksed him to read through all of them, ask about anything he didn’t know, and decide on what he was comfortable with.
Then we talked about it together.
We haven’t spoken to ANYONE about our ceremony, since that’s the one part we don’t want anyone’s opinions on. We’re doing a custom ceremony for a reason, and that reason doesn’t have anything to do with what our moms would like to see.

I think your FI may be confusing what’s right for you (as a couple) with what’s right for his family – a totally understandable thing, since his family has been the ones to explain traditions and set expectations for him. Getting married can make these kinds of choices more difficult, since it’s a struggle between the known (his family) and the unknown (his future family, with you). I know I have problems with it sometimes.

Like a PP said, I’ve also heard of a secular ketubah – it could really be a wonderful comprimise (I wanted to incorporate a ketubah but FI totally doesn’t get it, so I gave up. We aren’t Jewish at all though, hahaha)

There are plenty of ways that you can incorporate traditional, meaningful Jewish rituals (but you certainly don’t need all of them) in your ceremony without turning it into a major religious ordeal.

Because, don’t forget – it’s his wedding, too! If he would be comfortable with more of his heritage in the ceremony, I think it’s not terrible to incorporate a few rituals for him.

BTW – don’t talk about your ceremony with anyone else, and ask him to do the same. It’s not really your parent’s business how you get married, and if they’re influencing his choices that’s all the more reason to keep them out of the loop.

Post # 10
2562 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

@nber0815:  By the way, have you read A Practical Wedding?
The book & the website might be a valuable resource in navigating an interfaith(ish) wedding.

Post # 12
3432 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

You might want to check out our ceremony text.  It was a Jewish ceremony, but with no mention of God at all.  It may give you some ideas for ways in which his traditions could be incorporated, without making the ceremony religious.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to have a ceremony like ours.  Clearly, you’re going to have to work out your own compromises with your own fiance.  However, it may help to recognize that what he wants may be traditions, not religion as such.  Just as you might want to wear a white dress, or process down the aisle, or kiss at the end of the ceremony, he may want traditions that say “wedding” to him, even if he is not religious.

Post # 13
105 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

You may want to look into a Rabbi of the Humanist Jewish movement it will allow for the cultural Jewish elements the Chuppah/Glass breaking but limit the “God”. This sattisfies his mother (hey a rabbi did the wedding) and it limits the religious aspects of things. 



Post # 14
1472 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

Man, at first I was thinking that he was having kind of a knee-jerk reaction and it seemed disingenuous for him to say these traditions he didn’t know about were so important to him. However, I find the Jewish cultural/religious distinction fascinating, and given the complex history of the culture, I think wanting to be tied more closely to his roots, even if his personal beliefs are not particularly strong, is understandable. I’d ask FI to identify which traditions have the most meaning to him and why and try to compromise by incorporating the one or two most important (assuming you are not opposed to their symbolism after close examination). This may also help him to see that he doesn’t really understand many of the traditions and perhaps they aren’t that important to him.

Post # 15
7630 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2013

It sounds like he’s more culturally than religiously Jewish. I think he wants to incorporate the traditions, not the religion. You may not realize it, but a lot of wedding traditions we consider normal come from the Christian faith. For example, the bride on the left and groom on the right. I would talk to him about it and compromise between adding different traditions. 

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