Search URJ.org and the other Reform websites:

Officiation

Answer By: 
Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener, D.Min.

For centuries, Jewish custom has prohibited marriages at specific dates and times during the Jewish year. A strict interpretation of Jewish law prohibits work on certain days: Shabbat, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and the first and last days of Festivals, such as Passover and Sukkot. Since weddings historically involved a monetary transaction and the signing of a legal contract, both considered forms of work, Rabbinic law prohibited weddings at those times.

Although many contemporary Jews and Jewish movements do not view weddings as a legal business transaction, most rabbis nevertheless maintain the custom of not officiating at weddings on these days. There is an additional reason not to officiate at weddings on Shabbat and Festivals: a midrash teaches that weddings are not celebrated on these days “because we do not mix one simchah (joyous occasion) with another” (Mishneh Torah, Hilkot T’filah 1:2 based on Mishnah Mo-eid Katan 1:7).

From Beyond Breaking the Glass, A Spiritual Guide to Your Jewish Wedding, CCAR Press.

What is the Reform position on officiating at the wedding of a Jew to a non-Jew? My fiancée is not Jewish, and doesn't want to convert or give up his religion. We want a Jewish wedding, and plan to raise our children as Jews.

One of the most important steps in planning a Jewish wedding is finding a rabbi or cantor to officiate at the ceremony. When it comes to officiation at weddings between Jews and non-Jews, you will find a variety of opinions and practices. Reform Rabbis belong to the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). The CCAR discourages its members from officiating at interfaith weddings. Many rabbis understand their ordination as authorizing them to officiate only at Jewish weddings where both members of the couple are Jewish. While the CCAR discourages it members from officiating at interfaith weddings, it does not prevent them from doing so. Ultimately, rabbis are given autonomy in such matters and each rabbi interprets Jewish tradition according to his or her own understanding. Some Reform Rabbis reach the decision, after much study that a greater good is served by officiating at interfaith weddings. Most rabbis do so with certain standards. Often they require that the couple or non-Jewish partner take an Introduction to Judaism class and commit to creating a Jewish home and raising Jewish children.

Subscribe to RSS - Officiation