Couples across the country are infusing their Jewish wedding with creative new rituals. Consider these three examples:
1. Ron and Dr. Joellyn Zollman of Congregation Beth Israel in San Diego wanted both sides of their family to connect to one another, so they asked their mothers – one in Pennsylvania and one in California – to embroider pieces of matching fabric that would be combined to form their wedding canopy. A few days before the wedding, the two mothers worked together to stitch together their handcrafted chuppah.
2. For Dr. Joshua Cooper and his fiancée Heather Stoneberg-Henry of Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City, it was important to have a wedding “that reflected my desire to convert – and also involve our loved ones,” says Heather. A graduate student pursuing a degree in creative writing, Heather wrote a two-act, seven-scene play based on the biblical conversion story in the Book of Ruth. The play itself was the ceremony: it featured the appropriate blessings; roles and costumes for Josh and Heather’s friends and family; and finally, in the play’s last scene, the exchange of vows. “Between scenes, my father, who used to sing professionally, chanted the entire Book of Ruth,” says Josh. “It not only gave my father a crucial role in my wedding, but it gave Heather’s family the chance to hear Hebrew for the very first time.”
3. And as part of their wedding celebration, Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg, assistant rabbi of Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue, Washington, and Rabbi Seth Goldstein honored Yohanna’s father, Rabbi Myron Kinberg, z”l, who had worked passionately for social justice, by distributing homemade tzedakah boxes (plain aluminum children’s banks decorated with printed labels) as party favors and asking each guest to use them to collect funds for their favorite charity. “It was wonderful to see the tzedakah boxes displayed when we went to visit friends and family,” Yohanna says. Since then, she says, many friends who attended the wedding have adopted the custom, creating tzedakah boxes for their own wedding guests.