Interfaith Marriages by Rabbi Steve Mason

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Interfaith Marriage?

Interfaith marriage (often used interchangeably with the term "mixed marriage") is defined as the union of two people who, from birth, were raised in two different religions.

Are you also a Justice of the Peace?

Yes, this allows me to perform civil ceremonies and officiate in legal unions. As a Justice of the Peace, I have the privilege of working with people of many different faiths and customs.

As a rabbi, why do you think that Judaism is so concerned with interfaith marriage?

Since the 1980's the rate of Jewish men and women choosing non-Jewish partners has been somewhere between 40 and 50 percent. The Jewish community reacted negatively to those figures, believing that intermarriage would threaten the existence of the American Jewish community. Today, however, there is a consensus that the time has finally come to confront the challenge with constructive solutions.

Why do you officiate at interfaith weddings?

First, to validate the desire of the Jewish partner to stay connected to his or her faith, people, and culture. Secondly, to welcome the non-Jewish partner into the Jewish community to the extent that they feel comfortable.

Do you officiate with non-Jewish clergy?

Yes, I often do. It is important to have the non-Jewish partner represented by his or her clergy in the ceremony, if desired, to identify with their own communities of faith and heritage.

What are the major issues in locating a rabbi for my interfaith ceremony?

All Orthodox and Conservative rabbis as well as most Reform and Reconstructionists will routinely refuse to officiate at interfaith ceremonies. There is, however, a legitimate group from the latter two denominations that will officiate. The greatest issue seems to be the wide variety of conditions that dictate officiation. Unfortunately, few rabbis will officiate with the broad latitude that most couples desire.

Based on the shortage of these sought after rabbis, there are an increasing number of less than legitimate individuals who have moved onto the scene in the past few years. Armed with questionable ordinations from questionable institutions, they have been known to advertise publicly. Sadly, in addition to their illegitimate status, they are also, for the most part, untrained in the skills of rabbinic ministry. Please find someone legitimate! Only affiliated Reform, Reconstructionist, and Humanistic rabbis should be selected for your special ceremony.

What is your level of experience?

I have personally worked with over a thousand couples since establishing the Interfaith Counseling Program at Counseling Affiliates in 1986. Blending my rabbinic training with counseling skills from social work, pastoral counseling, and marriage/family therapy has provided beautiful and extremely satisfying ceremonies for these interfaith couples. Perhaps even more importantly, it has also given them a solid foundation on which to build their interfaith family life.

For more on my credentials, go to the "About Rabbi Steve" page.

How far will you travel to my ceremony?

Most of my work is done in southern and western New England. In order to accommodate a client, however, I will travel throughout the entire region.


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