We have a really, really great home for our faith. If you’re ever looking for an inclusive Jewish community in north central part of Connecticut, I have a great one! We found it months after moving to Connecticut from college.
When we first arrived it had two wonderful, shockingly young, Rabbis. The sweetest Cantor and a community that couldn’t be beat. Three years later, there’s been some changes. One of our Rabbis moved on, our Cantor retired. So now our Rabbis and Cantor are all wonderful, sweet and still shockingly young. The community has grown, it still can’t be beat.
This post is really about our Rabbi who left.
She wasn’t too much older than me, we had spent some time in the same cities, had rival football teams and loved musicals. She was one of the most amazing storytellers I had ever heard. I loved every sermon she presented. When Yom Kippur rolled around she put together a hodgepodge of Connecticut transplants with no families around for a great night out. She rapidly became on of my favorite people there.
I knew as soon as we got engaged, we were having a Jewish wedding and she’d be officiating. J agreed whole heartedly.
Now, this Rabbi didn’t do interfaith weddings. Which I was fine with, her choice as a part of the clergy. But it was also fine because I was converting. So I’d be on paper Jewish well before the wedding! We still had another two years to go!
With in a year she had taken a new job closer to her family doing what she does best; inspiring Jewish teens to be involved with Jewish life. As she left I was still scheduling the mikvah for the second time. Which was fine! I was going to finish!
Calling her and telling her I wasn’t going through with the conversion was the hardest call. I knew her beliefs going into it and I wasn’t about to make her do something she wasn’t comfortable with. I had my back up list from Interfaith Family and a list of friends and family who could do it and I was going to be ok. I was more so sad that someone who had been there for some really big parts of our relationship and someone I considered just a true light in my life wouldn’t be up there performing this rite.
But then she said the most shocking thing: she wanted to do it. Or at least thing about doing it quoting my personal favorite line that I wait to hear on Purim”Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.” She truly felt that no longer tied to a synagogue she’d be much more comfortable and able to do it.
From there it’s was a conversation of our nonnegotiable points of a ceremony. Was I ok with the seven blessings? Was she ok doing a unity candle? We didn’t want the traditional vows, how could we rewrite them to reflect our story? How would Jason’s Judaism and my non-Judaism blend? We agreed if our nonnegotiable points didn’t match up she wouldn’t be the officiant and we’d still keep in touch. Nobody would be hurt.
Luckily, they all matched up. And right now we’ve got a very large project between the three of us with the ceremony. We’re figuring it out and we’re designing it from the ground up. She’s getting advice and resources from friends of hers who do interfaith weddings and we’re going based off ones we’ve seen.
Here’s the truth I think of anyone looking for an officiant. Make sure you and your partner are comfortable with what’s going on and what you’re ceremony will be. For J it was necessary to have many of the points of a traditional Jewish wedding. For me it was important for our friends and family to be part of the seven blessings and to have a unity candle, as something my side would be familiar with. If you’re not comfortable with something, speak up about it! If an officiant isn’t the right fit, you don’t want to go into that day regretting or being uncomfortable in the most important part of the day.