Co-officiating with Protestant or Catholic clergy poses no problem, for Rabbi Allen has the respect of other clergy and the professionalism and expertise that will give you peace of mind on your wedding day.
The starting point for every memorable wedding is a personalized creative wedding ceremony. Every word should reflect the thoughts and feelings of bride and groom which they have shared during premarital counseling. A by-the-book ceremony from the Minister's or Rabbi's manual or a vapid service by a Justice of the Peace just does not do the job.
A wedding officiant, well-schooled in the writing of unique ceremonies, can be of immense help. Officiants offer a broad outline and guide you in your choices. You may decide on creative readings instead of, or supplementing readings, not necessarily from scripture. Visit www.mpartworks.com for artful and imaginative ideas for your wedding document.
The following are the most frequently-asked questions by couples who are planning their Interfaith wedding ceremony:
Click on hyperlink below to answer question.
Ideally you will meet with me to plan your ceremony. In that way I can write your ceremony months before your wedding date. Interfaith couples should begin their search for officiants even earlier. Call today: our calendar fills very quickly. Remember, no two couples are exactly alike, so every ceremony needs to be personalized. Clergy officiants can help with this process. I like the idea of inclusivity, making your family and friends part of the ceremony instead of having them act as passive bystanders. You will have the opportunity to write personal promises to one another in addition to, or instead of traditional vows. To explore all the options, contact Rabbi Allen (215) 887-2036 today!
Time. That is, time for getting to know one another and for creating together a warm and meaningful ceremony.
Yes. I have many friends who are priests; some who are ministers. The overwhelming number (about 97%) of all my Interfaith weddings are Catholic-Jewish.
No. I don’t believe a church or synagogue is the correct venue. I believe that Interfaith weddings should take place on "neutral" ground, such as a country club or other facility.
I do hold dates for couples who make a phone commitment, so call today!
Rosh Ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur, and the three major Jewish Festivals.
Yes. I still serve my former congregation in all life-cycle events when requested.
I've traveled to France, Italy, Canada and Central America. I also have officiated throughout the United States. In addition to English I have officiated in French, Spanish, Italian and German.
As a founding member of the International Federation of Rabbis, I am able to call upon colleagues from all over the United States. In addition, I have a number of colleagues in the Philadelphia area upon whom I can call.
Yes. Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons after 3:30PM
Yes. I have officiated at Nondenominational weddings, Hindu-Jewish, etc.
Yes. In addition to my very wide educational background, I was a cantor who sang opera internationally for twenty-two years. My singing ability add a real "plus" to weddings, both Jewish and Interfaith.
Having grown up in an Orthodox and then Conservative home, I chose Reform Judaism at the age of thirty. After intense study for the rabbinate, once I was ordained, I decided that my liberal outlook and study of other religions made me a "Post-denominational" rabbi, for there is a great deal to be learned from all religions. The most important concepts that guide my life are morality, ethical behavior and social responsibility.
Most commonly asked of the Rabbi by the bride in the last week before the wedding.
Click on hyperlink below to answer question.
The Marriage Application and the Ketubah can be signed by your chosen witnesses during the marriage service. Do not confuse the marriage service with the wedding ceremony. The marriage service is private, usually held in a small, but separate room, away from the guests, about 15 minutes prior to the wedding ceremony. The bride and groom and their immediate families, plus those who you will be honoring as witnesses should be present. Witnesses to the marriage certificate from the state can be any two people you choose. Witnesses to the Ketubah can be either men or women or one of each, who are not blood relatives to either the bride or groom (for Jewish ceremonies only). The actual marriages take place here and once the witnesses sign you are legally married. PLEASE do not forget to have the civil marriage application with you at this time. I cannot marry you without it. Keep the marriage application together with the return envelope and papers that come with it. NOTE: once this application is signed by the witnesses, you will get your original in Pennsylvania. The completed application must be returned by clergy, a judge or a notary public. When I mail it back in other states, it generally takes about three (3) weeks until you receive your marriage certificate. You will have already signed the application when you applied for it, and your signatures will be notarized by the clerk. The ketubah, once signed by your witnesses, makes you Halachicly ( by Jewish law ) Married. I will read it during the wedding ceremony and I will present it to the bride's parents after the wedding ceremony. It is not the legal document it once was. Many Interfaith couples buy an Interfaith Ketubah as a beautiful remembrance of the occasion.
The "Chuppah" represents your first home. By coming out of the Chuppah to come to you, and you accepting his hand and going with him under the Chuppah, you have signified your acceptance of betrothal. I usually explain the Chuppah during the ceremony.
No. Those men who are invited who are not Jewish should not be asked to wear a kipah. It is an insult to other faiths to do so. If the groom is Jewish, he should, along with all the other men in attendance who are Jewish. If the groom is not Jewish he doesn't have to: however, out of respect to the Jewish bride and her faith, he should consider doing so. Note: women are not required to wear a head covering.
Following ancient custom, the groom should always be on the right side of the bride. Reason: The man always needed to defend himself (and now his bride as well), and since the vast majority of men are right handed, he should be unobstructed from removing his sword from his left hip. Therefore, the man's right side should always be open.
If the groom takes you by the hand or elbow to lead you under the Chuppah, he should do this using his right hand for good reasons. It will automatically put you on the right side when the two of you come under the Chuppah.
Following our traditions has been important to Jews. Having immediate family with you under the Chuppah is a tradition of long standing. However, in recent years and sometimes due to age, many weddings provide for the grandparents, parents, flower girl and ring-bearer to sit on the very first row as a sign of honor. Then, only the maid of honor and the best man may join the bridge and groom under the Chuppah along with the rabbi. Groomsmen and bridesmaids may either take seating on the second row, or may be requested to be present at the Chuppah and may fan out as to not obstruct the view of the guests, with men on the grooms side and women on the bride's side. The choice is yours to make. Parents may also be asked to stand at the sides of the Chuppah of their children.
In ancient days, this was not done. It was thought that mentioning the name of someone who has gone might bring a reminder of death to this joyous occasion. However, over time, as people have moved slowly into a time of tremendous spirituality, it is nearly normal to mention a person’s name as being here in spirit. Please let me know of your personal decision prior when we meet for Premarital Counseling.
The wearing of a wedding ring says to the entire world that "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." For many centuries, it has been the custom for a man to place a wedding ring upon his brides hand; in essence, showing the world that this woman has been sanctified in marriage to another. Most often today, marriages are sanctified by a double ring ceremony with both parties to it each displaying their participation in sanctity. However, a man may choose not to wear a ring. This is not to say that his deep love and affection is only in words and does not carry with it the display of being married. The choice should be left to the groom since our tradition did not provide for this.
Problem? No! Life’s problems are only made up of what we perceive as problems. However, going back to tradition once more, it is believed within Judaism that a circle signifies life, and in order for a life to be whole (with a ‘W’) the wedding ring should have no hole (with only an ‘h’)in it. A hole shows that this life, or marriage if you will, may have and imperfection in it.
With all due respect to those who never heard of this before, they also never heard of a prayer service, or a holiday celebration or certainly not a wedding on the beach, in a forest or by the edge of a lake either. Anything that can strengthen a marriage through ceremony has always been acceptable to Jews. God did not create the wedding ceremony. Humans did. When each of you is asked to light a separate candle that represents who you are, your dreams, your hopes, your aspirations; that's fine. But when you are asked to ignite a common flame of passion using each of your own flames, this adds significance to the marriage. Again, let your own feelings guide you in making this decision. Please let me know during Premarital Counseling.
Now you know why you have chosen a maid or matron of honor who will be standing next to you.
How wondrous is our God, who provides a replacement for a husband lost to divorce or even early death (may it never occur again) and one who will also be a father to your child. Our great-grandparents would only whisper the word "divorce" as though it was a dirty word...a shame upon the family because they believed that a marriage was to be forever, no matter what. Better they should think of how miserably unhappy their own lives would be if they had to face an unfaithful partner, an abusive partner or worse. How very special would be their relationship with God, just knowing that God's love for them enabled them to be free of such awful pressures. They would say how grateful they are to God, who has permitted you to be free from such enslavement. Talmud provides for divorce. Our ancient and holy sages were wise enough to know that nothing on earth lasts forever, and many things have to be corrected by humans themselves. Worn out spark plugs need to be replaced, VCR's occasionally record the wrong channel and even souls need re-shoeing. Certain diets need to be changed in order to work properly. Why should marriage be any different? No. Your child should not stand with you under the chuppah. It is you and your groom who are being bound as one under the eyes of God. Your children of a previous marriage should not be part of the wedding ceremony.
Of course another 15 minutes will be acceptable, however, assuming that you did send out invitations stating where and at what time the ceremony was to take place, any length of time beyond that would be rude of them and also improper for them to hold up your wedding day.
Unlike caterers, florists and musicians who expect final payment at the wedding, I consider it inappropriate and actually embarrassing to accept final payment before the eyes of your loved ones. You accepted this responsibility long ago with the signing of he wedding agreement and like a marriage; you are expected to honor this agreement. Please mail your final payment two weeks prior to your wedding day. While I am well aware that these questions and answers will be helpful to you, each wedding is different and additional questions will arise. Please do not hesitate calling me at any time other then Shabbat to ask. I am, after all, here for you.
Anything considered “Jewish” (almost everything is symbolic, not Jewish) is explained during the course of the ceremony.
This is a sample ceremony only. It is shown as an Interfaith ceremony with a Co-Officiant. Obviously, if I am the sole Officiant, it will read differently. When I write a ceremony for a couple it is quite different. I am completely aware of what Priests can and cannot do. I make an effort to represent both faiths by being inclusive of the priest or minister and all the invited guests. Therefore your individual ceremony will differ a greatly because it is written for you.
Rabbi Allen and Co-Officiant:
Rabbi Allen: Good evening friends. I am Rabbi Richard Allen and my colleague is Father, Rev. , Pastor ___________. We welcome you on behalf of (Bride and Groom) as we give witness to the love and commitment they are about to express, and in that expression they will move from this stage, etc..
Co-Officiant: Bride and Groom are being joined today in a religious ceremony, secure in the knowledge that their family and friends around them will accept it as a symbol of their mutual faith in God. They are grateful to their friends and family members for gracing this occasion with their presence.
Priest or Rev.: Blessed are you who come in the name of Lord. We bless you in the name of the Lord.
Rabbi Allen: Same – in Hebrew
Remembering Loved Ones Who Have Passed Away
Rabbi, Priest or Rev.:
I would like to take this moment to mention that there are those close to (Bride and Groom) who could not travel to be here today, but whose thoughts and blessings are with them; and there are loved ones who are no longer here with us, but who are here in spirit. Let us remember them now in a moment of silence. (Names may be inserted upon request.)
Sample: I Corinthians, chapter 12:31-13:8a:
If I speak with the eloquence of mortals or of angels, but have not love, if I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, enough to move mountains, but have not love, then I am nothing at all, etc.
Priest or Rev.: If there is a Unity Candle: N.B. This is neither Christian nor Jewish tradition. It is the warm and fuzzy Hallmark tradition. If you want this it must be requested.
Rabbi Allen and Priest or Rev.:
Explanation this cup of wine.
Blessing Over the Wine: (Hebrew and English or English only)
Readings (read by family members or friends) The readings are placed strategically in the ceremony.
Optional Reading 2:
I will send you about 30 readings from which to choose.
Rabbi Allen sings the Seven Blessings
In words that we pray may describe your marriage, the Prophet Hosea said:
I betroth you unto me forever, I betroth you unto me in righteousness, loving kindness and in compassion; I betroth you to me in faithfulness.
Usually done by the Priest or Minister, if present:
Rev.: Groom, please repeat these words after me: In the Name of the Lord, I, Groom, take you, Bride, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day foreword, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, for as long as we both shall live. This is my solemn vow.
Used in a Jewish ceremony: And now I ask you, in the presence of God and this assembly: Do you, Groom, take Bride to be your wife, in joy and in sorrow, to love, to respect and to cherish her for as long as you both shall live?
Groom: I will.
And do you, Bride, take Groom: I will to be your husband, in joy and in sorrow, to love, to respect and to cherish him for as long as you both shall live?
Bride: I will.
Rabbi Allen or Priest or Rev.:
It is now the moment to speak the words and exchange the rings that make you husband and wife.
Exchange of Rings
Rabbi Allen: Groom, as you place this ring on Bride’s finger, please repeat these words after me: I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. With these words you are consecrated to me, as my wife etc…………………………….
Bride, as you place this ring on Groom’s finger, please repeat these words after me: I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. With these words you are consecrated to me, as my husband, etc……………………………
(The Seven Wedding Blessings are placed here. These are sung by Rabbi Allen.)
Pronouncement of Marriage
Rabbi Allen or Priest or Rev.:
Now that you have spoken the words and performed the rites that unite your lives, we/I now, declare your marriage to be valid and binding, and declare you, (groom and bride), husband and wife, etc……………………………
Rabbi and Co-Officiant: antiphonally, in Hebrew and English:
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord’s countenance shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord look upon you with favor and grant you peace.
Breaking of the Glass
Rabbi Allen: (Bride and Groom), the wedding is a ceremony of symbols..... The canopy, the wine, the exchange of vows, the exchange of rings; it ends with the symbol of the breaking of the glass..............etc.
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B&B, Le Rocher Pointu M. et Mme. Andr Malek
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Check out Rick Steves' France.
La Dolce Vita (Rome)
Pontassieve [Near Florence] Vacanze nel Verde (Flora Fontana)
Venice: Hotel Savoia & Jolanda (Piazza San Marco)
B&B Albergo Milano in Varenna on Lake Como
B&B Albergo Milano - more comfortable, and right in the old town, with a magnificent breakfast terrace--is your best Varenna splurge (tel. & fax 0341/830-298, $110 doubles). All rooms with Bath, shower & toilet.
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Check out Rick Steves' Italy.
Spain does not have B & B's as such. You can find hotels and Paradores. Best Western has a great hotel in Granada, not far from the Alhambra! Seville has an inexpensive hotel, Hostal Arias, in the heart of the city!
Check out Rick Steves' Spain and Portugal.
For the best values in gracious Bed and Breakfasts, go to Manor Houses of Portugal. This site, in particular, is excellent!
B&B Manor Houses of Portugal
David Lumby (Susan)
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Fabulous value on the Atlantic. English owner. No need to speak anything but English!
John Wilkinson - Owner
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Check out Rick Steves' Spain and Portugal.