Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Once Upon a Wedding, Or, Jewishly Conscious Wedding -- Part II

(The previous post told you about resources. This one talks about the decisions we actually made.)

Things we did to walk the orthodox/egalitarian line, and make a halachic wedding that was also inclusive of women:

  • Our RCA halachic pre-nup was signed (and notarized) before the wedding, by friends who would not be valid halachic witnesses, but are totally competent to sign this particular religious document because it simply requires witnesses to meet the standards of American juridical practice.

  • The rabbi announced at the tish that the pre-nup had been signed ahead of time, so that, even though the signing was not public, it was made public knowledge. (We also explained that we had done so in our wedding program).

  • The ketubah was not signed during the tish, but rather at the bedeken, so that both of us and all our friends and family were present.

  • To effect the kinyan of the ketubah, rather than having the groom lift an insignificant object (e.g. pen / handkerchief) to signal his assent, I personally gave the him a ring I bought for him; he took it and lifted it to signal his acceptance of the ketubah obligations. Thus I was able to publicly give him a ring in a way which produced a halachic effect, and that could not possibly be interpreted as interfering with kiddushin.

  • Under the chuppah, during Erusin, I announced my intention to accept the ring bought for me by the groom, saying, “Behold, I am prepared to accept this ring for the purpose of kiddushin according to the laws of Moses and Israel” (in Hebrew). This announcement not only adds equality by giving the woman a voice under the chuppah, but it also adds clarity to what takes place since she verbally announces that she intends to accept the ring rather than working on the basis of “silence is acceptance.” After I made this statement the groom gave me the ring he had bought and recited the traditional formula.

  • For sheva brachot under the chuppah we chose to have one person (in this case a family member) sing all 7 brachot rather than calling up a rotating list of friends. We love the person who did so, but the decision was also made for cosmetic reasons – you cannot get around the halachic requirement to have a man say the sheva brachot under the chuppah, but it looks and feels very different to have one man do so versus a parade of men.

  • Benching was led by a man, but sheva brachot during benching were recited by a mix of male and female friends.

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