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May 25, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 25, 2012 PAGE 15. a Old becomes new as couples personalize wedding ceremonies Courtesy of Ashley Novack Jan Citel and Ashley Novack stand beneath a hand-painted silk chuppah that Novack&apos;s sister made for the couple's wedding. By Debra Rubin They asked a lifelong if, as in many cases, the WASHINGTON (JTA)--In the months before his wed- ding, Jon Cetel cringed at the notion of having his friends dance him to his bride at a traditional bedeken ceremony, where he would place the veil over her face. The concept "was com- pletely foreign to me," he said. It "felt too traditional." But his bride, Ashley Novack, 26, was entranced by the tradition. "I love dancing, and this sounded like an amazing opportunity definitely not to be missed," she said. Rabbi Shira Slutman, director of community engagement at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington and the offici- ant at their wedding, had a suggestion: Reverse it. "Subverting thousands of years of tradition, I would dance over to Jon," said Novack, who called it one of her favorite moments of their 2010 wedding. "I was filled with love and joy as the remarkable women in my life encircled me and danced me over to Jon." Cetel, 27, ended up loving it, too. "The sound of Ash- ley's entourage approaching was thunderous and power- ful," he said. "I probably ended UP liking it even more than Ashley." The Conservative-raised Philadelphia couple's twist was by no means traditional, but it was an example of a growing practice of couples putting new spins on an- cient wedding traditions. From adapting non-egali- tarian parts of the ceremony to having friends officiate, it's all part of a trend toward personalizing the wedding ceremony. "It's very important for people to incorporate thpir voices," said Rabbi Sharon Brous, founding rabbi of the progressive Ikar community in Los Angeles. "That's the way the old becomes new." Sara Cohen of Somerville, Mass., and her bridegroom decided to forego a rabbi, instead asking close friends to officiate at their 2009 wedding. "We didn't have a rabbi in our life that felt like ours," said Cohen, 41. "The bigger reason was we really; liked the idea of having people who know us really well do the wedding." friend of hers, a Jewish stud- ies professor with Universal Life Minister credentials, and a clo friend of his to perform the ceremony. But the couple also consulted with a rabbi about the cer-" emony, which included the traditional hallmarks. There is no Jewish legal requirement that a rabbi or cantor officiate at a wed- ding; according to halachah, two witnesses are required to make the ceremony of- ficial. Having a rabbi can also add $1,000 or more to the cost of a wedding. Some rabbis are non- plussed by the idea of clergy- free nuptials "It may make for a lovely ceremony, but it does not serve in any way to Connect the couple in an official way to the Jewish community by someone who's been or- dained by the community," said Rabbi Rex Perimeter, the Union for Reform Juda- ism's worship and spiritual- ity specialist. "I think it's sad and it's .a diminishment of connection to community and tradition." He alsowarned of the loss of premarital counseling by clergy. But Perimeter praised the notion of having friends par- ticipate in.the wedding ser- vice in other ways. Couples long have had friends and honored guests recite the seven traditional blessings, but now couples are asking friends to add their own dre- ative translations, blessings or even poetry readings to the blessings. They are "personalizing it and rendering it unique," Perimeter said. Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Mag- der,. rabbi in residence at Be'chol Lashon, an initiative of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco, says there are practical reasons to have a rabbi officiate, includ- ing smoothing over family squabbles. "When the rabbi takes- care of it, there's a pastoral piece involved," she said. "Weddings are very, very emotional." Ra'anan Boustan,Abusch-. Magder's brother-in-law and one of the officiants at Co- hen's wedding, dismissed such concerns. Laypeople can do those things just as well or even better than a rabbi, he said, particularly rabbi doesn't know the couple very well. Noting that he and his wife didn't know their offici- ating rabbi well, and did not have premarital counseling with him, Boustan says, "I don't see that was terribly preferable to the three cases in which I married my best friend from college, my Wife's sister-in-law and a friend from childhood." More commonly, couples are making egalitarian adaptations to ceremonies that until recently largely had been ignored outside of Orthodoxy. For example, Orthodox brides traditionally encircle their grooms seven times under the chuppah. It's now common for many brides and grooms to circle one another; typically each cir- cles the other three times, then they walk around once together. Dual-ring ceremonies, long the norm in the non- Orthodox world,: are no longer unheard of among Orthodox couples. And the tisch--a tradi- tional time for the men to get together, discuss Torah, celebrate and sometimes be silly while the bride and female guests hold their own party as they await the bedeken--has gone egali- tarian, too, with the bride and groom each holding a separate, often mixed- gender tisch. That's one of several suggestions that Rabbi Dov Linzer, dean of the Ye- shivat Chovevei Rabbinical School in New York, offers to give women a greater role in Orthodox wedding ceremonies. Linzer also suggests that after the groom has put the veil on the bride, she wrap him in a tallit; that the couple's Hebrew names include the mother's as well as the father's" names; and that women are asked along with men to recite the seven wedding blessings, albeit the woman would do so in translation. Julianne and Justin Miller of Canandaigua, N.Y., each had a tisch at their 2000 wedding and a double be- deken. "At the first part of the ceremony, I put his kipah on him before he put the veil on me," said Julianne Miller, 38. Courtesy of Sara Cohen Mike Perez reading a personal statement to his bride, Sara Cohen. Not 0nly did that make the ceremony more egalitarian but, Miller says--in jest--it also was a chance to be sure she had the,right groom. Her husband is an identi- cal twin. "Before I put the kipah on him, I ]ooked in the crowd to make sure I saw his brother," Miller said. Rabbi Julia Andelman, 36, and her husband, Eitan Fishbane, a professor at the Conservative movement's Jewish Theological Semi- nary, opted out of kiddushin, the betrothal portion of the wedding ceremony in which the bridegroom "acquires" his bride by giving her a ring. "We wanted something equally binding for both parties, and God forbid the marriage would not work out, we wanted something that would not require a get," she said, referring to the religious divorce decree. "You need a get to dissolve to kiddushin, so if you don't have kiddushin, you don't need a get." But the couple retained the "nisuin" portion--the seven blessings known as the "sheva brachot"--bind- ing them together as hus- band and wife. "There are certainly peo- ple who could argue we're not halachically married," said Andelman, a former congregational rabbi who directs the Engaging Israel Project in North America. She and Fishbane also each wore a kittel, the white robe traditionally worn by men at weddings and certain other special occasions. Some of the creativity at weddings stems 'from ef- forts to create meaningful ceremonies within a Jewish framework for same-sex couples, said Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, a senior Jew- ish educator at the Tufts University Hillel. "There's a little more per- mission to look outside the old box," said Ruttenberg, who maintains a website, the Kiddushin Variations <ht tp:.//alternatiyestokid->, with postings on rabbinic opinions regarding egalitar- ian ceremonies. Aaron Dorfman and his bride, Talia Milgrom-Elcott, wanted to eliminate any portion of the ceremony that spoke of acquisition, including exchanging rings. Instead they borrowed rings from other people and used those rings as exchanges. This way, the rings "could not be perceived as halachically effecting legal acquisition because they were not ours to give," Dorfman said. Asasign of protest that most U.S. states don't sanction gay marriage, the couple, who live in New York, borrowed from a Passover tradition: As seder participants reciting the Ten Plagues traditionally spill a drop of wine for each plague in recognition of the pain of others, they spilled some of the ceremonial wine before drinking it to signal some diminishing of joy. HANDYMAN SERVICE Handy man and General Maintenance Air Conditioning Electrical Plumbing Carpentry Formerly handled maintenance at JCC References available STEVE'S SERVICES " Call Steve Doyle at (386) 668-8960 NAOMI English artist Naomi Alexander, ROI, records the last remnants of Jewish heritage ALEXANDER: in Lithoan00,o00y. Al00der trave,od the country depicting her impressions of the Once Upon a Time and their communities. in UTHUANIA & Museum adds photographs, artifacts and stories from Floridian JGws whose The Florida Connection origins are from Lithuania. Kitchen interior. Zeizmari$, T h ru September 30, 2012 to.l Sponsors: Sarita, Jimmy & Lidia resnlck and Deborah & Bruce Koye in memory of Sonia and Nochim Golomb. detail, oil on wood, 2003. Organized by the London Jewish Cultural Centre in association with the Ben Ori Gallery, the London Jewish Museum of Art. MEL FINKELSTEIN: Featuring a lifetime of work by acclaimed photojournalist Mel Finkelstein, PICTURING THE MAN these images ftom the1950s-1980s focus on iconic symbols of our cultural past, BEHIND THE CAMERA from presidents to performers, givinga sense of this larger-than-life man and "l'hru October 14, 2012 his world of time, place and celebrity. Exhibit curated by Donna Wendler and Susan J. Geier and circulated by the Mel Finkelstein Family Trust. Partially sponsored by Congregation Beth Jacob Mel Finkelstein & Kim Novuk, " gelatin silver print, 1960. Jewish Museum of I Florida IN_ 301 Washington Avenue ' .; e -% Miami Beach, FL 33139 Tel: 305-672-5044 ,;:" o,o  MIAMIBEACH open daily: 10am-5pm, except Mondays, Jewish and Civil holidays. The Museum is supported by individual contfibuUons, foundations, memberships and grants from the State of Flodda, Department of State/Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Arts Council, and National Endowment for the Arts; the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners and its Cultural Affai Council and Tourist Oeve4opment Council; and the City of Miami Beach and its Cultural Arts Council. Receive 2 for 1 admission with this ad HFJN