Old friend + religion + wedding question

Whew! As if questions about any one of the above weren’t hard enough!

The Friend
I have an old friend (“Friend”), we were thick as thieves in high school and made extra efforts to stay in touch through college and beyond. However, in the past, oh, 3-5 years we have hardly spoken. Since moving back to the same city where Friend lives, we have not been in much touch but we in the next week or so we are getting together to catch up.

The Religion
I am not an observant Jew but I know it would thrill my parents to have a Jewish wedding and neither I nor my SO (not Jewish) have significant objection to it. Actually I enjoy most elements of traditional Jewish weddings. However, my childhood Rabbi retired, I am not a member of any congregation, and I do not know any officiant with any personal connection to me or my family. Leaving us in the position of aquiring a rent-a-rabbi/interfaith/nonfaith officiant.

The Wedding Conundrum
HOWEVER, Friend recently finished Rabbinical school. I have been trying to think of a way to ask Friend, without pressure, if he would consider officiating at our wedding. Although it would mean a lot to me if Friend said yes, I would completely understand if due the variety of factors (newly minted rabbi, interfaith marriage, unobservant me) Friend did not feel comfortable doing so. But, I can’t think of a way to broach the topic without it seeming strange and out of the blue, not to mention an imposition.

Due to the date we have chosen (near Rosh Hashanah) Friend would need a great deal of advance notice and this is not a conversation that can be put off till the last minute. Acknowledging that the wedding is still more than a year away, but also that Friend is very busy with Rabbi things and I am very busy with law school things, I am unsure what to do. Thoughts?

IMHO, ask away; at worst you’ll be rebuffed and will need to find another rabbi.

Do you see the friend often? Could you start off by asking more general questions around does your friend think you’d have trouble getting a rabbi to agree to officiate your wedding due to interfaith marriage, unobservant you, etc…and if your friend reacts positively and says you shouldn’t have any troubles, you could then perhaps be a bit cheeky and say something like ‘if only i knew a rabbi who might be willing to marry us…’?

This is what I would do, too. Just make it clear to your friend that you will understand if he has objections, and that you won’t hold it against him.

The last time I saw Friend in person was at his wedding about 4 years ago. Emails have been sporadic at best (for example I found out from another high school friend that Friend’s wife had a baby this summer).

Aah. In that case I’d take the others’ advice then. :slight_smile:

Ask him. I’m always tickled when someone asks me, even if (logistically or religiously) it turns out I can’t do it. If he doesn’t feel up to it, it’s his responsibility to be a big boy and tell you that. Don’t make his decision for him by not asking him the question!

Ask him - mention all the above - interfaith, nonobservant, busy time of year, and that you completely understand if he chooses not to.

The worst that can happen is that he can say no.

The best that can happen is that he can say yes.

And he might say no for reasons that have nothing to do with your anticipated reaction. He may be truly flattered just to be asked.

(If it doesn’t pan out, you may want to stop by your local Unitarian Church - very often Unitiarian ministers will draw from the traditions of faith of both the bride and groom (and sometimes other traditions as well) - and its a good church to join if you are thinking that you want to raise kids with some religious upbringing (especially in a mixed marriage - mine is former Catholic and atheist), but would prefer it to be as “non-faith” as a religious tradition can be.

Unless he’s a particularly orthodox Jew, it would seem that he’d be ok with it- most Jews, especially Reform Jews, are extremely accepting. Could you go by a Shabbat service? That might give you a feel for how orthodox he is.

Send him a letter or nicely-worded e-mail (so he can think about it and check the dates), and make it clear that you completely understand if he is not available/up for it and his presence as a guest would still be much appreciated.

In which denomination of Judaism? If Friend is an Orthodox or Conservative rabbi, the movements say that their rabbis can’t officiate at interfaith weddings. If s/he is a Reform, Reconstructionist, or Renewal rabbi, it’s up to Friend to decide whether to officiate or not.

Just before, or just after? I’d be rather surprised if any rabbi with congregational duties agreed to officiate at a wedding between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur- that’s a very busy time for them. Less than a week or so before Rosh Hashanah would probably be problematic as well.

He attended Jewish Theological Seminary, which is a Conservative Yeshiva, but I believe him to have Reconstructionist views. But I’m not totally sure, so I guess I have to sigh ask.

Just before. The prior Sunday, where RH falls on a tuesday.