Creating your special wedding ceremony can be fun and exciting. The process provides you as a couple with a unique opportunity to express your love in words that speak to your own hearts and souls. As your Rabbi, your ceremony will not be a cookie-cutter approach. Your ceremony will be just that... "your ceremony". It will be written and developed around your wishes and desires. It will be special to you.
When you announced your engagement, you were full of excitement and joy. Now, as you begin planning for your wedding day, you may feel a great deal of stress. This is normal. Working closely together we can alleviate the stress surrounding the ceremony itself. I cannot choose the color of your napkins, but I can preside over a service that will provide wonderful memories for a lifetime.
If you are an interfaith couple, in addition to the normal wedding preparations you must ask yourself questions that same-faith couples do not, such as:
What does my faith mean to me?
How comfortable or uncomfortable am I with my partner's faith and traditions?
If we chose to have children, how will we raise them?
How will our parents respond to our marriage and to our religious choices?
If we choose one faith for the children, will the partner whose religion was not chosen feel left out?
How will we celebrate the holidays in our home?
I, as your rabbi, cannot provide you with answers to those questions. But, with counseling and open and honest discussion we can arrive at what is right for you.
I highly recommend reading Celebrating Interfaith Marriages, by Rabbi Devon A. Lerner.
Remember that the wedding day can be emotional and stressful for your parents as well. Interfaith ceremonies usually present the question; will the ceremony be balanced, representing both sides equally? As your Rabbi, I take great pains to never offend but always to respect and welcome. Long before your ceremony, you will have a draft of the service to share with all involved. Anything can be added or changed to make all feel included.
While I will not co-officiate at a ceremony, the participation of a special minister or priest for a reading or a few chosen words, can add much to the wedding service.
It is a joy to all to have a son or daughter called to the Torah as a bar or bat mitzvah (son or daughter of the commandment). But, it is also a daunting task. Learning to read (or chant) a new language, speak in front of a group of people, write a d'var Torah, can challenge even the bravest of 12 and 13-year olds. All of my b'nai mitzvah tutoring is done in private sessions, never in groups (unless it involves a sibling) so there is no peer pressure adding to the stress.
Preparation takes weekly sessions for between 4-6 months for a child who reads Hebrew. Teaching Hebrew first may involve much more time depending on the motivation of the student.
The end result is an experience that will involve your child in a life-long love of Judaism and Torah scholarship.
Burial/Shiva Minyan/Grief Counseling
The Psalmist said that birth is a beginning and death a destination. But as birth brings joy, death brings sorrow and grief. A Rabbi is often looked to, to answer questions such as: Where will I/they go when I/they die? I didn't get a chance to say good-bye, how can I live with myself? What do we have to do to have a proper Jewish burial? My chaplaincy in the military coupled with a life-long devotion to Judaism enables me to provide comfort during this extraordinarily difficult time.
Brit Milah/Baby Naming
A bris and/or baby naming can and should be one of the most joyous times in a parent's life. However, most mothers feel anything but comfort at their newborn son's bris. As your Rabbi, I can help make this ceremony meaningful and special while easing some of the tension surrounding the actual surgical procedure.
A bris is always done in conjunction with a certified mohel (or a physician/surgeon if a mohel is not available).
Choosing a baby's English or American name is done prior to leaving the hospital. Selecting a child's Hebrew name can sometimes be difficult. As your Rabbi I can help you find a suitable name that relates to that special ancestor, whether it is a specific one to one relationship (Mordechai to Mordechai) or just using the first initial or a favorite (deceased) uncle or aunt.
Smaller congregations that cannot afford or choose not to employ a Rabbi full-time often seek ordained clergy for the High Holydays. I am available to serve your congregation (with sufficient advanced notice) during the Days of Awe, such as services for both Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur.
I am ordained as a Modern Rabbi and my services are conducted following the Reform tradition. All services are done equally in Hebrew and English unless a congregation desires to favor one over the other.
I strive for my sermons to be challenging and inspiring and at times even humorous.