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The Congregation Shma Koleinu Blog.

Why I Do Perform Jewish Weddings for Most Anyone Who Seeks Me Out…Period

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Having just read your “Letter for Couples of Jewish and non-Jewish Background,” I have some thoughts I would like to share with you. “Authenticity” + $5.00 will barely buy you a cup of coffee if it leads to closing the door on a couple that is seeking a Jewish wedding. This is not a “future of the Jewish people” issue. It’s an issue of presence in the present. I wonder how many “Jewish-Jewish” couples you have let go, because of their lack of authentic connection to the meta-philosophical issues that undergird the liturgy of the Jewish wedding. Maybe it would be different if for far too long interfaith couples hadn’t been turned away from our synagogues. I don’t know. But today, when all of us Rabbis can name at least as many amazing non-Jewish parents of Jewish children as Jewish parents of Jewish children who have been the lifeblood and inspiration for their Jewish children and Jewish spouse’s strengthened and emboldened Jewish identity, to use the excuse of “authentic connection to the liturgy and tradition as the rationale for saying “no,” is as absurd as it is offensive. As long as high-minded ideals keep a Rabbi from standing on the ground with engaged couples, who are, at least at the outset, rarely seeking spiritual union with the most ethereal understandings of our tradition, this sounds indeed like one who is speaking from an ivory tower. And your Rapunzel like offer for them to climb up if they so wish, is an empty promise. I apologize for my brashness in responding this way but as a Rabbi who performs interfaith weddings that utilize and do not compromise on the framework, as well as the intricate details of our people’s ceremony of Kiddushin, who has watched and experienced how so many of these couples become Jewish families with Jewish children and Jewish connections, your letter falls deaf upon my ears. Lastly, perhaps your girlfriend’s tepid response to your heartbreak that you felt as “Europa, Europa” concluded, was an indication that her emotional depth was somewhat lacking. To be a mensch means to be able to feel the pain of someone else’s people as well as your own. Most non-Jews would have been crying at that moment as well.

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