Post # 1
I just got engaged a week ago (yay!), but I’m already tackling the religious problems. (Figured I would start early, since we may elope if problems become unmanageable). I really need advice!
I’m Jewish and my fiancee is Catholic (dad) and Quaker (mom). He did not undergo the sacraments for Catholicism, and he doesn’t follow the Quaker religion. But occasionally he will go to Catholic church with family or friends. His family is so wonderful, supportive, and loving. They are incredibly excited for us.
My mother, on the other hand, is Orthodox Jewish and miserable. She is (barely) willing to accept her daughter marrying a Christian, but she insists that we only have a Rabbi marry us. My fiancee thinks a Rabbi is fine, but wants interfaith aspects to the ceremony to please his extended family. My father says that if we have a Reform Rabbi, we can probably have some interfaith prayers. My mother keeps insisting on an Orthodox Rabbi only. I’d be shocked if an Orthodox Rabbi would even marry us.
Anyone have thoughts? My fear is that my mother will be miserable unless she gets her way, and that we’ll decide to cut her out of the process. She threatens, though, that she won’t help pay for the wedding, and may not even come.
The alternative is to have a small destination wedding. We know the people who truly love us will come, but the idea breaks my heart.
Post # 3
We had an interfaith wedding, (I am Catholic, my hubs is Jewish). We couldn’t find a Rabbi who would do it, so our Jewish officiant was the Cantor from the synagogue, and it was a BEAUTIFUL ceremony. With all due respect to your Mom, it’s not her wedding, and not her marriage. Even if you could find an Orthodox Rabbi to officiate (I don’t think you will), it’s not fair for you or your Fiance to have to go through with a religious wedding ceremony that one of you doesn’t identify with or agree with. Your mother doesn’t need to agree with your plans, but she does need to respect you.
Interfaith relationships are complicated, and you will be tested in ways you never imagined. You won’t always be able to avoid the conflict by running off and eloping or having a destination wedding- what happens if you have children and need to decide how they will be raised? Your Mom is likely always going to have issues with this, and will probably always make her feelings known, unless you address it now. Not sure how long you have been with your Fiance, but your Mom had to have known all along that he wasn’t Jewish- so why is she flipping out now?
A great resource we used in planning our Interfaith wedding is a book called “Celebrating Interfaith Marriages: Creating your Jewish/Christian Ceremony,” by Rabbi Devon Lerner. You can get it on Amazon for about 12 bucks. I highly recommend it. We were able to incorporate aspects of both religions, and soooo many people came up to us afterwards and told us it was one of the most beautiful weddings they had ever been to. Perhaps if your Mom sees that you are honoring your Jewish roots by incorporating many of the Jewish wedding traditions, she will come around.
Best of luck to you, and congrats on your engagement!
Post # 4
I am Catholic and my fiance is Jewish. We will be having a preist and rabbi marry us at our venue location. I also went through grief with my family last year because my dad wanted us to get married at church. However with time he was able to accept our decision. It was really difficult to make the decision of not getting married in church because I did not want to upset my dad, but sometimes you have to do what’s best for you and your fiance and if people are upset, hope they get over it.
Have you considered having 2 seperate ceremonies? This didn’t work for us, but maybe that’s an option to consider.
best of luck to you.
Post # 5
An orthodox rabbi will not marry you, so you can just tell you mom that. There may be a reform rabbi who will preform the ceremony, but depending on where you are, they may not be willing to do that either (some won’t if there are interfaith aspects…). Do you want a religious ceremony? If not, why don’t you look into having a JOP or judge preform.
For the record, I am Jewish and my FI’s family is catholic, and my Dad goes to an Orthodox shul.
Post # 6
**hugs** i’m sorry this is difficult.
If you are both ok with a destination wedding, i think that may be the route i’d take. I’d worry that if you accept $$ from your mother she will hang things over your head throughout the entire process.
Post # 7
🙁 Explain to your mom that you are an adult starting your own family, and that a wedding is a union of two people, therefore both religions will be incorporated into the ceremony. Its not just about the bride and the brides family, its about you and your fiance! Good luck with everything I am sorry for your stress!
Post # 8
I second @rachaelrobin – an Orthodox rabbi will not marry interfaith. I’ve also never heard of a Conservative rabbi performing an interfaith marriage and you might have to search around for a Reform rabbi who will do it. Perhaps your mom might allow for a little leeway if you have a Reform rabbi perform the ceremony?
You guys have to do what is right for you as a couple though, and it sounds like you want to honor both traditions. Perhaps she is scared that you will “forget about” or “stray” from Jewish practices and you can reassure here that isn’t the case (if that’s true for you). It may put her at ease a bit about the future.
Post # 9
Thank you all for the advice! It’s an incredible source of comfort to know others are dealing with a similiar situation.
Fiance and I have been together for six years and this situation is no surprise to my mom. She loves the Fiance, but would love him more if he would convert (I’m not even approaching that subject). But, as everyone said, this is our marriage and our future. I layed down the law tonight and finally made her realize that. She said she’ll support us no matter what.
For those of you in Philadelphia, I am too. I’ve been referred by friends to two reform Rabbis who will marry us with interfaith elements. Shockingly, my mother’s Orthodox Rabbi agreed to perform the ceremony because he adores my mother and I. But that feels so disingenuous (and uncomfortable for FI’s family).
For now, I think we’ll go with one of these Rabbis who incorporates interfaith elements.
Thank you again everyone! Best of luck and love with your planning!!
Post # 10
@drosen81: Who is your mother’s rabbi? I know this is not the point, but really I find that impossible to believe. PM if you don’t want to name him, but I don’t know any Orthodox rabbis in our area that would do that.! I’m just super curious that’s all.
Post # 11
@rachaelrobin: Ditto! I am also from Philly and I can’t imagine any of the conservative Rabbis agreeing either, so I cannot picture what Orthodox Rabbi would. I can however think of a few reform ones that may be willing.
Post # 12
The interfaith thing gets so complicated. I’m glad to hear you talked to your mom and that it went well. You are lucky you found rabbis that will do it- we have only found a cantor and apparently he won’t marry us unless we promise to raise the kids Jewish, which I’m unable and unwilling to promise right now. Luckily our deacon is not giving us a hard time.
I think designing a ceremony that will honor both traditions is the right thing to do, so I have to second another bee’s suggestion about the Devon Lerner book, and I have also been reading The Interfaith Family Guidebook by Joan Hawxhurst…that’s more for the marriage not the wedding, but it gives a good idea of different issues interfaith couples might encounter, etc. I’m not sure if you are thinking that far ahead yet but it might be worth checking out!
Post # 13
@rachaelrobin: David Bassous – http://etzahaim.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=45&Itemid=29
Although he agreed to marry us (according to my mother), I can only imagine the creative tale she told to get his approval. He did say he wouldn’t perform the ceremony without my Fiance calling him to first discuss his spiritual views. I will say that as far as very conservative leaders go, he is a fairly progressive thinker.
@seaside: Thanks for the book suggestion! Since we are only 30 and very career-driven, we haven’t encountered any of the interfaith problems sure to come. Nor have we even been able to predict them, since we are both laid-back about religion. These books will make enlightened reading.
Post # 14
i am also really surprised an orthodox rabbi would agree to this…he definitely is orthodox and not conservative?
Post # 15
@Mrs. Meowerson: Quite frankly, the terms are unclear to me. My maternal family is Orthodox. The schul is mostly a Hebrew-speaking congregation, with children attending Yeshiva. Beyond that, I have no idea. But my point was more that my mother probably told the Rabbi that Fiance is willing to convert or is of Jewish descent. So don’t put much stock in the “he’s willing to marry a Jewish girl to a Christian boy”.
Post # 16
@drosen81: Thank you for posing this questions. I am in Boston but me and my Fiance will be wedding in Philadelphia. He is Jewish and I am Catholic. We JUST got engaged and people on both sides are already asking us where and by whom and in what religion we are going to get married. We haven’t figured out anything yet except for what previous posters already hinted or stated, an Orthodox Rabbi will not marry you. What he may consider is trying to convince your Fiance to convert so than he can marry the two of you.
Just remember it is about you and your Fiance. Congratulations and just know that you willl have a sound marriage because you two love one another not because of who married you!