Catholic/Jewish Wedding

We recently attended our neighbor’s daughter’s wedding, unusual in that a Catholic Priest and Jewish Rabbi shared the officiating.

Basically everyone was Jewish on the groom’s side and Catholic on the bride’s.

We walked in 5 minutes before the wedding and they were installing the Chuppah (Hoopa) which is the canopy used in Jewish wedding ceremonies. One website describes the Chuppah as a symbolic reminder:

The Chuppah reminds us of the events on Mount Sinai when the Jewish people received the Torah from God. Even though the Jewish nation accepted the Torah wholeheartedly, God insisted that they also keep the Torah out of fear, as well as out of love. This was done by lifting the mountain over their heads and stating that if the Jewish nation does not accept the Torah, the mountain will be dropped on them.

So too, one must enter the wedding covenant with immense love and also a sense of fear. Not a fear of what’s coming, but rather a sense of reverence for the holiness of marriage.

Pretty cool! Rabbi Buzz communicated this reality very clearly and with conviction.

The guy next to me let me know he is Jewish and gave a little commentary throughout the service…

The first part of the service was led by the Catholic Priest, a very gentle-spirited man who was personable. He explained what was going on as the service progressed.

I found it interesting that during the responsive Scripture readings and prayers, no one on the groom’s side participated (except for Rabbi Buzz and the groom’s mother who was visibly praying the Lord’s prayer).

A small boy in front of us spent most of the ceremony trying to annoy the teenage girl sitting next to him. He did a great job.

Rabbi Buzz was very direct with the couple, challenging them with the sacred nature of their vows and commitment. He was the kind of guy you’d love to have over for dinner and hear him tell stories.

It was beautiful to see people from 2 backgrounds come together and honor one another’s traditions.

On the other hand it seemed like an impossible charge – to be totally devoted to their faith and to honor and respect one another’s faith???

Both Catholicism and Judaism call for absolute devotion to their central tenets. How can you do that as a couple? Maybe it can, but I’ve never seen it work (in couples who are devout). Each faith calls for followers to be a part of their community, training, rituals, traditions, raising of the children, etc. It just seems logical that one partner would have to yield to the other and not be devoted to their own tradition for this to work.

Toward the end of the ceremony the guy next to me let me know that Rabbi Buzz didn’t have his own congregation so I would have to “calibrate accordingly.” I think he meant Rabbi Buzz was “less than” a real Rabbi but I was impressed.

The service concluded with the drinking of the cup and breaking of the glass by the groom, a symbol of renouncing everything of the past and entering a new life together.

Meaningful vows, powerful symbols, new beginnings, new challenges. Lord have mercy…

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