Jewish Civil Weddings

Jewish Civil Weddings, Interfaith Weddings, with Jewish Celebrant Nitza Lowenstein, around Australia, Marriage Celebrant , Wedding Celebrant

Nitza Lowenstein, Your Jewish Marriage Celebrant for the best Jewish/Interfaith weddings around Australia

“Love does not know any religious or cultural boundaries”!
Nitza has established an enviable reputation as one of Australia´s best Marriage celebrant for mixed weddings...Jewish/Interfaith weddings

Many wedding ceremonies that are taken place in Australia are mixed marriages between Jews and non Jews. In most cases both partners choose to have a civil ceremony, rather than having a church or a synagogue wedding.

Being a Jewish celebrant, I have successfully performed hundreds of mixed marriages, since 1995. It is a very challenging task combing the different rituals in a meaningful way, without turning the ceremony into a mockery or insulting family members or guests. Each family has its own expectations to how a wedding should be celebrated and conducted.

Is the civil Jewish marriage ceremony the “Real thing”?

When I was appointed as a celebrant, in 1995, the common view was that a civil ceremony is not the "real" thing, it is just a legal necessity, and you cannot really compare it to Church or Synagogue wedding.

Well, I have recognized the importance of the ceremony to the bride, groom and their families and took upon myself the challenge of creating the “real thing” within the civil ceremony.

I created it by Incorporating ancient customs, values, symbols and traditions, a civil ceremony that reflects the Bride and the Groom's ethnic backgrounds, religions and traditions.

I am very proud with my achievement to be able to offer you, a civil ceremony that is a proper alternative to a Church, a Buddhist Temple or a Synagogue Weddings with substance, style, decorum & the appropriate rituals.

If for some reason I can’t assist you, make sure that the celebrant for your interfaith wedding is really knowledgeable and understands your culture and rituals.

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The challenge of a Jewish celebrant:

As an experienced and perceptive Jewish celebrant, I have recognized the fact that It is always a dilemma for “mixed” couples when it comes to the wedding ceremony.
Interfaith or mixed couples often ask:

  • Should we have a secular ceremony, just the necessary legalities, without any acknowledgement of our heritage"?
  •   How do we do it, if we want to reflect who we are?
  •  How many symbols and rituals should we include!
  • What sort of balance should we have?
  •  How do we combine the two cultures?
    My continuous challenge
  •  To create the ceremony, for each couple that will combine and reflect the cultures, religions & traditions of both, the bride and groom, in a meaningful way.
  •  A ceremony that will express respect, acceptance and tolerance of each other
  • I listen carefully to find out what are the specific ideas and needs of each couple
  • Some couples want very little rituals and some, the lot!

Attendance of a priest
Some couples would like their family priest to attend as well.
I had a few weddings between Jews and Catholics, where the priest participated with me in the ceremony.
In these cases, it was my responsibility to ensure that the way that it was done was acceptable as well for the Jewish family.
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Why should you consider me, to officiate your civil Jewish wedding?
  • My background, education, experience, knowledge, being a Jewish celebrant, and fluent in Hebrew, enable me to provide you with a personal and meaningful civil ceremony, which can include all of the traditions and rituals of a Jewish marriage ceremony.
  •  In Australia, if one the partner is not Jewish, you cannot get married in a synagogue! No Rabbi, reform conservative or orthodox will officiate a “mixed” wedding. In order to get married in the synagogue or in the reform Temple, the non Jewish partner must convert into Judaism. Although I am Jewish and my grandfather was a well-known Rabbi, I am not a Rabbi. I can assist you with a civil ceremony, with a Jewish flavor. You can decide “How much” flavor….
  •  My best recommendation is the thousands of people who attended my ceremonies since 1995
  •  I can also assure you that your ceremony will be very different to the one that I had officiated for your friend. There are no two ceremonies alike and each wedding has its own unique dynamics.

 The secret success of my ceremonies
The ceremony must also be inclusive in a way that everyone attending, regardless of their background, knowledge or religion will understand what's going on, will feel part of it and will be able to relate to it. 
So all the customs and rituals that are celebrated, are explained as part of the ceremony. Everyone is included.
It gives the families so much comfort and joy, to have in the ceremony, their own familiar rituals and the acknowledgement of who they are.

As mentioned before, you can have as many rituals as you want or as little as you want!!!
It is very personal and varies from couple to couple.

It is not a religious ceremony! It is a civil wedding with a Jewish flavor.
But I believe it lets the Jewish partner, celebrates his “Big day”, with his own beautiful tradition, passed down, from centuries past, in the most meaningful way!
The beautiful rituals are familiar to the Jewish parents and relatives that feel proud and happy to witness this ceremony!

The non Jewish people can relate to the rituals as well. They love and understand the symbolism of it all, as well! 

Why should you have a Civil Wedding combined with Jewish rituals?

The most important point of having a civil Jewish wedding is the following, and please let me be blunt and honest about it.
By having a Jewish celebrant and some Jewish rituals, even just one ritual such as breaking the glass, the non Jewish partner, demonstrates respect and full acceptance of his “partner for life”, including their religious & ethnic background and their extended family.
It makes your life as a married couple much easier.
Please, never hide your partner’s identity!
You will be surprised to find out how many people just do that…

Don’t hide behind the cliché that you are having a neutral ceremony without any religion….
Being Jewish is not about being religious or about God.
It is about your identity, your family and who you are.
After all, most Jewish weddings and Civil Jewish weddings these days are for secular Jews that don’t consider themselves religious…
They are just proud of their own identity and wish include the unique customs and rituals that were developed and practiced for centuries, for this very special occasion.

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Use Nitza's Chuppah for your Civil Jewish wedding, Free of Charge

Your marriage Ceremony under the  Chuppah” ( the marriage canopy)
You are most welcome to use my Chuppah, free of charge.It was made especially for me, in Tel Aviv, Israel. It is simple and beautiful and can be used anywhere you like. As you can see, it is portable and easy to hold. Have a look at photos below!
You can also hire a free standing Chuppah from different suppliers. For options, look at “Wedding Resources” link on my website.

Customs and rituals and photos of a Jewish Wedding Ceremony: The Procession, Circling,Chuppah, Kippah

The Procession (Coming down the aisle)
According to the Jewish custom, the bride and groom are escorted to the Chuppah by their parents.
In Chassidic and other communities, the groom is escorted by his father and father-in-law (with his father to his right), and the bride is escorted by her mother and mother-in-law (with her mother on her right.)
It symbolizes that the two families are joining together, rather than the feudal custom of “giving the bride from one man to another”.
The parents stand under the Chuppah during the ceremony, to emphasize this coming together of the families and being part of the couple’s new life.

 The bride Circles the groom seven times:
When the bride arrives at the Chuppah, (pronounced Hooppa), she circles the groom seven times.
Circling is a great example of a custom with multiple interpretations.
I do explain the different interpretations and symbolism of the circling, during the ceremony.
I have great explanations which I will be delighted to share with you

.The “Chuppah” or the marriage canopy
The “Chuppah”, (pronounced “Hoopa”), is a wedding canopy that the bride and groom stand beneath during the ceremony, signifying that the bride and groom are joining together under the same roof. It is a symbol of the new home and family unit they are establishing together.
It is covered on top as a symbol of security and protection and is open on all sides, so family and friends will always fill welcome.
I has the wonderful elements of a new family unit, in a new home, security, hospitality etc.
 I do explain the different meanings of the Chuppah, during the ceremony, as well.

  Kippah (a Yamaka or a skull cap)
The skull cap is a head covering, traditionally worn by men as a sign of reverence for God.
In ancient Rome, servants were required to cover their heads, while free men were not.
Thus, Jews covered their heads to show they were servants of God.
In a civil wedding, one does not have to wear a Kippah!
If you decide to wear a Kippah, it is just a sign of respect.

The wedding of Margot and Oleh, ABC TV with Nitza Lowenstein I Officiated Margot & Oleh's wedding on March 2009. The wedding was filmed and documented by the ABC TV on Compass
To watch this documentary please click on the Media link, “Faithfully Yours” on this website
Margot and Oleh's wedding was very challenging for me as a celebrant.
They represent multicultural Australia.
Oleh is the son of Ukrainian Christian migrants and Margot is the daughter of South African Jewish migrants.
They are both secular but wanted to include rituals from their own culture in their wedding ceremony, as respect and acknowledgement of their own heritage and family, with acceptance and respect for each other.
Margo's parents, expected to see Margo getting married under a Chuppah, a marriage canopy, just as they did and their ancestors.
The Chuppah in a Jewish ceremony represents the new home and the new family unit that the couple will build and create together.
It is covered on top as security and protection and is open on all sides to symbolize hospitality.
Family and friends will always be welcome in this new home.
But this Chuppah, which symbolizes as I've said, the foundations of Margot and Oleh's new home, was designed, created and built by Oleh, with respect to Margot's heritage.
Margot and Oleh have chosen a beautiful Ukrainian cloth for their Chuppah.
Under this Chuppah they bring together to their union, their two special cultures.
An additional challenge at this wedding was the location and the rain.
It is more difficult, to conduct a meaningful ceremony with style decorum and substance, out of the comfort zone of the church or synagogue.
Fortunately we achieved it, despite of the rain.
More rituals of Jewish weddings: Bedeken & Veil Ceremony. The Rings Ceremony

Bedeken & Veil Ceremony
Prior to the start of the marriage ceremony, the groom, the rabbi, (in our case me, the celebrant) the fathers and the whole entourage proceed to the bride (who is flanked by both mothers) for the veiling ceremony.
The groom places the veil over the bride's face and recites the blessing given to Rebecca by her mother and brother before she left for her marriage to Isaac: Achotenu: at hayi le alfei revavah—"Our sister, be thou the mother of thou-sands of ten thousand" (Genesis 24:60).
The rabbi, then the parents, extends their words of hope and prayer.
In some families, it is customary at this time for the bride's father to place his hands over her head and offer her the priestly benediction.
The groom and his party return to their places and the wedding begins.
The custom of “bedeken” recalls the predicament of Jacob, our forefather, who thought he was marrying Rachel only to discover, after the ceremony, that he had married Leah.
The tradition now is that a chatan (Groom in Hebrew) and kallah (Bride in Hebrew) see each other before the ceremony thereby avoiding such confusion.
The veiling of the kallah makes her “hekdesh”, (literally, set apart in holiness) and symbolizes what the chatan values most in the kallah.
Beauty may fade with time but the woman's spiritual qualities are something she will never lose.
The veil, which physically separates chatan and kallah, also serves to remind them that they remain distinct individuals even as they unite in marriage.

 The wedding Rings & The Rings ceremony
In the presence of the two witnesses, the groom places the ring on the bride’s right hand.
The wedding rings symbolize the commitments the couple have made to each other, and the love that they share. 
They represent bonds complete and eternal. The ring the groom gives the bride symbolizes the concept that the groom will be protecting and providing for his wife.
It is crucial that the wedding ring be the property of the groom.
This is the most significant part of the ceremony. It confirms the marriage as legally binding.
In a Jewish wedding ceremony the groom says: “Harey At Mekudeshet Li Betaba-at zo, Ke-dat Moshe Ve-israel”
(This ring is a symbol of your sacredness (or you being special to me) unto me, according to the Law of Moses and Israel”)
In a civil ceremony the groom may say:
“Harey At Mekudeshet Li Betaba-at zo, Kedat Elohim U’bney Adam”
(This ring is a symbol of your sacredness (or you being special to me) unto me, according to the ways of God and humanity)
In our civil ceremony I have written a personal, beautiful & meaningful “Ring Ceremony”:
(Written by: Nitza Lowenstein to be given to my bride and groom to use, Including a beautiful short love poem in Hebrew) 

More customs of Jewish weddings:Wine, Breaking of the Glass, Seven Blessings, Ketubah

Blessing over the Wine
The Ritual of “Drinking wine” is included in every Jewish wedding ceremony!
We include this ritual in our ceremony, but we give it a universal explanation!
For the wedding ceremony, the Kiddush Cup, a silver goblet, is used.
You may choose not to say the blessing in your ceremony!
But you can have the drinking ritual, as in our ceremony the bride will give a drink of wine to the groom as well!
The couple may engrave on a silver Kiddush cup, (a silver goblet), their names and the date of the wedding, to have as something really special they can pass on to their children)
The blessing on the Wine in Hebrew:
“Baruch Ata…Boreh Peri Hagafen”… (The blessing on the wine)We praise You, Adonai, our Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has created the fruit of the vine. 
Breaking of the Glass
The breaking of the glass concludes the wedding ceremony.
This tradition has several interpretations and I include the many explanations, in our ceremony.
Some say, tongue in cheek (as a joke) that this moment symbolizes the last time that the groom gets to “put his foot down”!
After the glass is broken the congregation traditionally calls out:”Mazal Tov”!    Congratulations! (Good luck for their married life together) 

The Traditional Seven Blessings of a Jewish wedding
Among the loveliest of traditional Jewish ceremonies are the Seven Wedding Blessings, “Sheva Brachot”, which have come down to us from centuries past and are still very relevant and appropriate to modern day weddings.
The blessings that are the heart of the marriage ceremony are an astonishing mixture of public and private joy.
I do explain the blessings! We read the blessings in Hebrew one at the time, followed by the English translation.
Being Jewish and fluent in Hebrew, I can beautifully read the blessings in Hebrew, if you decide to include it in your wedding

 The traditional Jewish Blessing: (Benediction)
“Ye-varechicha Adonai V’yishmirechah”“May the Lord bless you and keep you” Etc.,
This blessing by the way is common to Jews and Christians.
I recite it in Hebrew and in English.
I can read it only in English if this is your choice.
Ketubah
The Ketubah is: The Jewish Legal Marriage contract
Written in Aramaic and dating back to biblical times, the Ketubah, is a pre-nuptial marriage contract.
Prior to the ceremony, the groom formally accepts it terms and conditions and agrees to undertake the obligations of a Jewish husband.
He must have two witnesses, who are unrelated to either the bride or the groom.
The signing of the Ketubah is an acknowledgement of marriage not only as an emotional and physical union, but as a legal and moral commitment made to one another.
The Ketubah is read to the couple under the Chuppah, before it is given to the bride.
It was instituted for the purpose of protecting the woman, should she lose her husband. 
In our ceremony you may choose to use a symbolic Ketubah, as a Ketubah is only given in a religious Jewish ceremony!
After our ceremony, we sign the legal civil marriage certificate, Witnessed by two witnesses! (Anyone over 18 can witness the civil Marriage certificate)

 

Don't forget: Dancing the "Horah" during the reception...It is an important part of a Jewish wedding...

A Jewish Civil wedding in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, OLD with Sydney Celebrant Nitza
Jewish style weddings around Australia with Sydney Celebrant Nitza Lowenstein
Photos of Jewish Civil weddings in Sydney, Hunter Valley, with Sydney Celebrant Nitza Lowenwstein
Jewish weddings, Jewish interfaith weddings, with Jewish celebrant Nitza Lowenstein
A Secular Civil Jewish Funeral Service

The Human life cycle is Birth, Marriages and Death.

As a Jewish Civil celebrant I am privileged as well, to participate and conduct funeral services.
I believe that every human being deserves to depart this world in dignity.

Relatives and friends are also entitled to farewell their loved one, in the most meaningful and appropriate way.

Being a civil Jewish celebrant, I am available to conduct the funeral ceremony in according to the Jewish tradition.

I will officiate and conduct the funeral service and write a special eulogy, when a rabbi is not available or cannot conduct the service in accordance to Jewish law.

I include in the civil, Jewish, secular funeral service:

Passages from the Zohar, the book of the Kabbalah, the mystical Jewish tradition, Psalm 23 (Tehilim Chapter 23) The Lord is my shepherd,

The very special memorial prayers, El Maleh Rahamim (O Lord who art full of compassion),

The traditional mourner’s Kaddish and more.

All the prayers are recited, in fluent Hebrew and English.

Very important part of my funeral service is the personal Eulogy, to highlight the life of the deceased and say goodbye to him/her in a loving and meaningful way.