Somebody’s Getting Married…Under the Chuppah!
By ANN ZIVITZ KIMBALL
In all seriousness, one of the realities of growing up and living in the South is that there are fewer Jews here. If there are fewer Jews, it’s not surprising that within the Jewish community here, there are many interfaith families and Jewish families that include non-Jews. But, what is the difference between interfaith families, and Jewish families that include non-Jews?
Though each family has its own identity, I do see a distinction. An interfaith marriage (or family) consists of two adults who each have their own faith, and maintain these separate faiths, bringing both faiths into the family. A Jewish marriage that includes a non-Jew can be shared between a Jew and a non-Jew, if the non-Jewish partner has no particular faith preference or faith expression, and their shared home is simply Jewish.
I think whatever you decide – who you will marry, how you will structure your lives, how you will celebrate holidays, involve yourselves in the Jewish community, and raise children – that these are some of the most important decisions you will make. And they’re all decisions that should be made BEFORE you walk down the aisle!
Frankly, a Jew marrying another Jew coming from a different religious observance background has to make some of the same decisions as a Jew marrying a non-Jew. Will you keep a kosher home? Will your son have a bris, or not? Will your kids go to Jewish Day School, or not? Will your family attend services on a regular basis, or not? Will Friday night dinner be a family Shabbat event, or not?
For all couples, the list is long, and the most important thing is to know where you both stand before you say yes! When it comes to the unique conversations around religious observance, interfaith, shared, or one-Jewish-partner-one-not, the resources at Jewish Outreach Institute are truly wonderful and inclusive of all. I would recommend that anyone look to JOI, or Interfaithfamily.com, for guidance and support.
My fiancé and I are to be married on the Saturday night before Passover, and we could not be more excited! Along the planning process we have spoken to the rabbi and the cantor, reserved a chuppah (wedding canopy), ordered kippot (skullcaps) with our names on them, and have assembled all the rest of the ingredients that make up a Jewish wedding – including, of course, our ketubah (wedding contract).
When it came to the ketubah, we did face a dilemma: Chris doesn’t have a Hebrew name. Actually, to be honest, I was not given an official one at birth myself; however, I adopted the name Hannah because it is the closest to Ann in Hebrew. Just for the heck of it I looked up the Hebrew equivalent of his name and, drum roll please… it’s Mashioch! Yeah, that was NOT happening. After we picked ourselves off the floor from laughing, we chose to phonetically spell out his name in Hebrew letters, Kuf, Reish, Yud, Samech (K-R-I-S), and fill in the blank that way.
Ann Zivitz Kimball is the director of cultural programming at the Goldring-Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) in Utica, MS.