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 Involving your Christian relatives in a wedding

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maculated

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PostSubject: Involving your Christian relatives in a wedding   Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:21 am

First topic message reminder :

So my fiancee' have set the date for our wedding: December 11. We are set on a very, very traditional wedding format from Arfruf to Kabbalat Panim to Orthodox Ketubah, etc, etc.

My family keeps hinting that they'll feel ostracized by this and would appreciate some kind of homage to their traditions but I am at a loss. Unity candle? Irish music? I'm part Irish, part Polish, and Part Lithuanian.

::shrug::
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: Involving your Christian relatives in a wedding   Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:14 am

Debbie B. wrote:
A couple can only be Jewishly wed if both are Jewish, so we had a small Jewish wedding after I converted. It was held on the 22nd anniversary of the Jewish date of our original secular wedding. And the interesting thing is that this was not planned. In fact, we had tried to schedule it for the day before since then our son would not have left for summer camp. But THREE different things forced it to be done the next day. (Divine intervention? It really felt like it was supposed to be held on the same day to symbolize the continuity of our marriage.)

Traditional Jewish weddings have lots of meaningful symbolism and there are seven traditional blessings ("Sheva brachot") with one that is known and sung by all at a traditional wedding (and also in the Birkat Hamazon after the wedding meal and for the series of parties for the whole following week that traditional communities have for the bride and groom). We did not have a minyan for our Jewish wedding, so all seven blessings could not be said, but my sponsoring rabbi did sing the main blessing and I did feel that I was truly being "blessed".

You guys are giving me goose bumps...how beautiful and special to have a Jewish wedding on top of joining an extended family.
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: Involving your Christian relatives in a wedding   Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:06 am

OOOOOO the wedding is nigh???? How are you doing any updates? Details on the family thing? Razz
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Involving your Christian relatives in a wedding   Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:21 am

Hi Bee, thanks for thinking of me!

Yeah, I am sitting here working on the schedule to give to everyone. It's been a mixed bag. For some reason, the pain of the disownment threat and the fact that his parents really just won't "get it" has really put a damper on the whole thing. They've done everything from send his godfather (a rabbi from the East Coast) to our town to have a talk to emailing leaders of our synagogue to tell them my conversion wasn't valid (it was) and that they should break us up.

Their newest plan has been to pay for me to go to a conversion ulpan in Israel for five months, and then they could accept me as a daughter-in-law. There's also a super high chance I am halachically Jewish anyway, so now they want to find out my family history so they can pay an investigator to find out. All of this is through the fiance - no interaction on my end. Nothing about *me* in any of this. It's all about the dip or the blood and it, quite frankly, sickens me how much they assume I'm an ignorant, petulant child and that's all the problem is. His dad called today to see "what was happening with that." Uhh, Dad? We have a wedding in three weeks.

His aunt came to visit and gave us her blessing. Her "yeah, they ruined our lives, too" camaraderie helped with all of that. But I am still pretty upset about it, as is he. He hasn't been super participatory, but he tries.

As for my parents, my mom finally gave up and decided that letting me do what I needed to do was best (very hard for her) so we moved our wedding to the synagogue as they have this huge, beautiful spread of unimproved land to host it on and the community is going all-out to make it easier on me than I could ever ask for (they all know by now after a little scene I made during an event a while back). I decided to incorporate a unity candle ceremony in there (though candles are used in Jewish ceremonies, too) to make that feel more "Catholic" to my mom. And we have bag pipers playing "Havah Nagila" for my Irish dad. Even our Orthodox worded ketubah pays honor to my side:
It's a Claddaugh Ketubah! (Yeah, decided to forgo the Lieberman Clause, Debbie)

It turned out that the whole "upset about not involving us in the wedding" thing that my sister told me about was more interpersonal drama than anything else. She and I aren't super close and she was apparently trying to force that through the wedding. My mom was telling me the whole Jewish wedding thing made my dad sick, but he got pissed when I finally asked about that and said that what the fiance's parents were doing was making him sick and wanting to wash his hands of the whole Jewish thing all over again, but not that he was upset about our particular wedding. So . . . unfortunately, it's just a lesson in you can't please everyone - just do right by people as best you can and look after your own.

I'm pretty excited about the actual wedding and seeing this whole thing go off. Sad that my parents will feel a little weird, but the truth is, this relationship had to isolate both parents to work. In time, I think my parents will deal with the Jew stuff and I don't think his parents will be able to deal with not having contact with him, so that's that.

Though honestly, we have lots to deal with on the Jewish end. He told me yesterday he worried that people (namely, his parents) won't think our wedding is "Jewish enough" and that's part of the reason we're going through this mess instead of eloping to prove our legitimacy. And trust me, it's 100% more Jewish than anyone else's Jewish wedding that I know of. Aufruf for sheva berachot . . . we're doin' it right. It's frustrating, but that's our lot. Perfect couple in almost every way with more than our share of baggage to deal with.

To the chuppah!

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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Involving your Christian relatives in a wedding   Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:31 am

Quote :
And we have bag pipers playing "Havah Nagila" for my Irish dad.
Love it! My husband and daughter get really excited about bagpipe music.

Quote :
It's a Claddaugh Ketubah! (Yeah, decided to forgo the Lieberman Clause, Debbie)
It's beautiful. And you wanna know something? My ketubah has no Lieberman Clause either. My ketubah is a nice, but standard traditional ketubah form (a little bit of tasteful decoration) provided by my sponsoring rabbi. My husband asked me if I wanted to get some fancy custom artwork for our legal ketubah, but (a) I already had a beautiful hand-lettered and decorated (with real gold leaf on real kid skin parchment) "ketubah like document" from our civil wedding (which still hangs on our living room wall), and (b) I was worried about the wording being exactly right so as to be Jewishly legal.

Then again, since we were already civilly married for 22 years when we became "Jewishly married" it seems less likely that I would ever feel the need for the clause. (Although admittedly a few of my parents' friends divorced after about 25 years of marriage.) Truthfully, my conversion really strengthened our marriage, in part because I felt so much better about being true to myself that I was better able to love and be loved.

Tara, if you want to be extra-safe with respect to the possibility of ever needing a Get, just get an additional pre-nup contract like many Orthodox couples do these days.

I never had any issues with my parents-in-law because they died when my husband was a child. On the other hand, I do remember when we were only 19 or 20 and we went down to Florida for spring break and I first met his paternal grandmother and maternal grandparents. The maternal grandparents had never really gotten over the custody battle and got huffy at the suggestion that they all meet at the same lunch. His paternal grandmother graciously pulled out to resolve the problem, but seeing how much hurt it caused brought me to tears. She was a lovely woman who unfortunately did not live to see us marry. We gave our daughter her middle name after that grandmother.

Tara, which relatives will be attending the wedding? Since you are doing a "traditional" Jewish wedding, I assume you are including a brief private time for "yihud". (We even did that for our civil wedding.) My rabbi thought it was a critical part of the wedding ceremony for us to have a brief private time even though we had lived together as a married couple for 22 years. As he put it: "and now they can spend a few moments by themselves together in my office, while the rest of you (our witnesses, a wife, and our daughter) giggle about it." I seem to remember that my rabbi took that time to pop into the Maariv service that was going on in the shul to say kaddish for his parents who had died about 10 months before.
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PostSubject: Re: Involving your Christian relatives in a wedding   Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:00 pm

I love your ketubah! I'm Irish, and the colors, the symbols... gorgeous!
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Involving your Christian relatives in a wedding   Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:14 pm

Your ketubah is beautiful!!!!
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: Involving your Christian relatives in a wedding   Mon Nov 21, 2011 6:13 pm

Beautiful! So beautiful sunny sunny sunny
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Ketubah-like-document and legal ketubah   Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:02 pm

Here are my "ketubah-like-document" and ketubah, respectively (names redacted for privacy):

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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Involving your Christian relatives in a wedding   Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:07 pm

Tara: what are you using for a chuppah? tallit or decorated cloth? are you having friends/family members hold the poles (if there are poles)?

Are you doing the ritual where the the bride walks around the groom seven times? We did an egalitarian version in which I circled three times, my husband circled three times, and then we circled each other once.
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PostSubject: Re: Involving your Christian relatives in a wedding   Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:30 pm

Wow Debbie, such a beautiful tradition. I don't know anything about ketubahs.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Involving your Christian relatives in a wedding   Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:10 pm

Basic info on the ketubah from My Jewish Learning:
http://www.myjewishlearning.com/life/Life_Events/Weddings/Liturgy_Ritual_and_Custom/Ketubah.shtml?LFLE
Two links in the left column give more detailed info.

My ketubah uses the traditional Aramaic text. The English is not a full translation, but expresses modern sentiments using some of the traditional wording. Since the traditional wording does not correspond to modern sensibilities and the English doesn't have any Jewish legal significance, it is pretty typical that traditional modern ketubot with English do not use a direct translation.

Bee: you might be interested in info on Jewish weddings in general:
http://www.myjewishlearning.com/life/Life_Events/Weddings/Weddings_101.shtml?LFLE
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Involving your Christian relatives in a wedding   Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:01 am

Debbie,

All of his living relatives that are able are coming to the wedding aside from his parents. Of course, because of his parents' rejection of that branch of the family for not being observant enough, he doesn't find a lot of solace in that, but it's something. It's nice for me.

Yeah, we're definitely having yichud. One of my orthopunk friends has been begging to be one of the shomrim for it, so should be funny. Snarf food, take photos because the sun is going down, and then off to the reception!

As for chuppah, we're being very traditional. I thought the idea of it being a house of prayer was important. Tallit! And we're having the people that have held our relationships together holding the poles.

And yup, traditional, non-egalitarian walk. In our relationships, I DO build the family around him, so it seems apropos to me and I've never really worried about the egalitarian end of things (I think because I have a Catholic background).
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