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Frequently Asked Questions

Within every community (be it Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist or Renewal), rabbinic opinion as to what is appropriate or acceptable concerning weddings and wedding couples will vary.  I’ve addressed a few commonly asked questions about my approach to Jewish weddings, which will help you to determine if we’re a good fit for your celebration.

Reform Conservative New York City Rabbi Lev

Can we be ‘creative’ when envisioning our wedding ceremony?

Yes!  Within the framework of the Jewish wedding ceremony, I am open to the creation of personal ritual that would allow for a reflection of who you are and those things that are important to you.  Often this takes the form of writing your own vows from the heart, the offering of a personal prayer or the inclusion of favorite poems or songs.  Participation by relatives and close friends will also inspire you and your guests spiritually on your wedding day.

Jewish Wedding Ceremony

Do you offer rabbinic counseling leading up to the wedding day?

I require it!  Typically, I meet with wedding couples two to four times before the actual wedding ceremony.  Our sessions are designed to generate a sense of comfort with, and appreciation for, each other along with learning and exploration.  During our time together, we’ll explore some of Judaism’s valuable insights into marriage and your future journey together as a married couple.

What's your stance on egalitarian weddings?

I insist that the ceremony be egalitarian.  My personal philosophy is in keeping with Reform and Conservative Judaism’s belief that both genders are spiritually equal.  Some practical examples include the signing of the ketubah (wedding agreement) by both wedding partners, an exchange of rings, and alternative ketubah texts and formulations.  Traditional circling can also be modified.

Do both members of the couple need to be Jewish for you to officiate?

Yes, in order for me to officiate, the partners must both be Jewish.  I abide by the Reform definition of “Jewish”, namely that each party is born of a Jewish mother or father, or has undergone a ritual conversion.  Both bride and groom also must identify as Jewish, having established a commitment to the Jewish people and faith through the performance of Jewish acts and Jewish living.

Do you officiate at interfaith weddings?

Rabbinic ordination invests me with the authority to officiate at weddings.  In other words, it’s Judaism that provides me with the power to sanctify lifelong partnerships.  My personal and professional philosophy therefore limits me to officiate only at weddings where both participants are Jewish.  If you are an interfaith couple seeking a rabbi for your wedding, I will gladly refer you to a rabbinic colleague whose wedding philosophy differs from mine.  If you would like to have an informal conversation about the possibility of conversion, I would welcome that as well.

Do you officiate at same-sex weddings?

Yes, I officiate at same-sex (gay and lesbian) events, provided both partners are Jewish.  (See above:  "Do both members of the couple need to be Jewish for you to officiate?")  Same-sex marriages have been sanctified for many years by rabbis educated at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in NY, where I was ordained.

At what time can our ceremony begin?

Jewish tradition prohibits changes of personal status on Shabbat (the Sabbath, which is from sundown Friday to Saturday after sunset), so I do not officiate at weddings scheduled for Friday nights or Saturday days.  During the warmer months, when Shabbat ends later in the evening, I do officiate at weddings if the procession begins at 8:00 pm or later, regardless of the actual time of sunset.  My time is otherwise flexible most days of the week.

On the day of our wedding, how long can we expect you to be with us?

I will be available to you to officiate at the ketubah signing and wedding ceremony for a total of one and a half hours.  In my experience, this is a realistic timeframe that allows for a comfortable pace.  (It also satisfies your caterer’s needs!)  In order to be respectful of everyone’s time, it is important that we establish an actual time for the start of your ceremony, which is later than the time when you ask your guests to arrive (in most cases, one half hour).

What about destination weddings?

I am always happy to officiate at your special destination, be it in the US or abroad.  As our time is precious, special rates apply for celebrations involving travel, in addition to reimbursement of expenses incurred.  As a special treat, I offer a 1-2 hour class for your wedding guests, gratis, as part of your special weekend celebration.  For instance, if your wedding will take place in Mexico, I would teach a class about the Jews of the region.  Call for details.

Are you licensed to officiate?

New York State has no specific licensing requirements.  However, I am registered in New York City as an official Marriage Officiant.  Requirements in other cities, states and countries may vary.  Upon request, I am happy to review the governmental requirements of your anticipated setting.

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