Marriage on the Bimah

Berith Sholom MARRIAGE on the BIMAH policy – April 5, 2006

Written by Rabbi Gordon with input from Ritual and Outreach Committees

The purpose of this policy is to encourage couples to hold their weddings in the synagogue, with the twin goals of supporting marriages and families and strengthening the Jewish people. This policy applies equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

A wedding ceremony on the bimah, before the Ark containing the Torah, is the symbolic formation of a bayit b’Yisra’el (a “household in Israel”), a building block of the Jewish community. Marrying on the bimah represents a couple’s commitment to Judaism and a Jewish home, including the raising of any children of this union as Jews. The privilege of being married on the bimah at Congregation Berith Sholom is therefore extended to all members in good standing at the time the request for use of the bimah is made, and to their parents, children, and step-children, in accordance with the following guidelines.

  1. The wedding will be performed by Jewish clergy: Rabbi and/or Cantor. The decision whether or not to officiate at any particular wedding, including interfaith weddings, is made by each Rabbi and Cantor according to his/her own conscience.
  2. As with all events on the bimah, the Rabbi of Congregation Berith Sholom has the right to approve of the person(s) who will be invited to perform the ceremony.
  3. The ceremony will not contain rituals or symbols of any other religion, and there will be no other marriage ceremony of another religion.
  4. We believe that pre-marital counseling can contribute to a marriage’s long-term success. The couple will participate in pre-marital counseling with the Rabbi of the Congregation or another Rabbi or Cantor acceptable to the Rabbi of the Congregation. This may include a program of basic Jewish study, at the discretion of the Rabbi on a case-by-case basis.
  5. The couple will commit to establishing a Jewish household, including raising any children of this union as Jews and not promising them to any other religion. This does not require that both members of the couple be Jews, though we warmly welcome each person who chooses to become a Jew; nor does it necessarily preclude a non-Jewish spouse from practicing his or her religion. It does require that both members of the couple be supportive of and committed to raising Jewish children to the best of their ability, and it includes the expectation that the couple will have a connection with a Jewish community (see no.6).
  6. We hope that all couples married in this sanctuary will become active members of a synagogue of their choice, because we believe that Jewish families who are part of a larger Jewish community have extra strengths and resources in their family life, as well as sharing their own strengths and resources with the Jewish community. We particularly want to support and encourage couples who are entering an interfaith marriage to make Jewish choices for their family. We believe that this is not only good for the Jewish people but also for the family, because we believe that Jewish values, as embodied in our teachings, our customs, and our communities, support a strong, stable home and a loving family.

Implementation: The Rabbi shall determine the eligibility of any couple to be married on the bimah and shall administer this policy under the auspices of the Ritual Committee or their appointees. This policy shall be reviewed by the Ritual Committee and/or Board of Directors periodically, and at any time when requested by congregants to do so.