Can A Catholic Attend A Jewish Wedding?


Jewish wedding

Interfaith marriages have become a common practice in modern times. Some religions allow their members to marry from other religions without any conditions. The bride and groom will expect their guests to come to their wedding despite being from different religious groups.

So can a Catholic attend a Jewish wedding? The catholic church allows its members to attend weddings of a different faith, including Judaism and Protestant. Also, the Jewish tradition do no restrict anyone from attending their weddings. Importantly, the catholic church does not discourage interfaith marriage. A catholic is free to marry a Jew; hence, the attendance of a Jewish wedding is not much of a big deal.

We all have friends and families from different faiths. Sometimes we get invited to join them in celebrating one of their religious ceremonies. Read on to find out more about Catholics attending Jewish weddings and non-Jewish people going to a synagogue.

Can A Catholic Attend a Jewish Wedding?

The Jewish do not restrict who can attend their wedding. Everyone is invited to join the bride and groom in celebrating their special day. A Jewish couple can invite their Catholic friends to attend their wedding. The Catholic church does not restrict any of its members from attending a Jewish wedding.

When you are invited to a Jewish wedding, as a catholic, you should know that there is a difference in the way a Jewish wedding is carried out from that of a catholic wedding. Jewish weddings differ from one another depending on the culture and movement the bride and groom belong to. For example, an Orthodox Jewish wedding will have some difference from that of a Reform Jewish wedding. Here is what you should expect at a typical Jewish wedding;

Dress Code

The dress code in a Jewish wedding can be influenced by the location and time of day. Both men and women are expected to dress decently. Men will be provided with a Kippot, a traditional Jewish cap worn during Jewish celebrations. At some weddings, women are also allowed to wear Kippot. If you are a catholic woman attending a more traditional wedding, you will be required to wear a skirt or dress that falls below your knees and covers your shoulders.

Different Events

When invited to a Jewish wedding, you might receive two invitations to the same wedding at different times on it. Most Jewish weddings will have two events on the same day. The first event is meeting and greeting the bride and groom. The second event is for the normal wedding ceremony. If you want to meet the bride and groom, you should go during the first event because they will be too busy during the second event to entertain guests.

Rites and Rituals

In a Jewish wedding, the couple will participate in several rituals to make their marriage official. One of the most important rituals in a Jewish wedding is the signing of the Ketubah (marriage contract). The bride and groom will sign the Ketubah witnessed by the rabbi or cantor.

In Orthodox weddings, men and women are required to sit separately; hence you need to find a seat in the appropriate section. Near the end of the ceremony, the rabbi or cantor will recite the seven blessings over a cup of wine, the bride and groom will honor these blessings. The guests will sing along throughout the ceremony; feel free to join in if there are printouts of the songs.

The wedding usually ends with the breaking of the glass. The breaking of the glass symbolizes that even times of celebration, the world is still not a good place. After breaking the glass, the guests usually stand up and shout, “Mazel Tov,” which means congratulations. You are free to say it with the rest of the guests.

Can A Non-Jewish Person Go to A Synagogue?

You do not have to be a Jew to attend a service or Jewish ceremony in a synagogue. Many synagogues are open to non-Jewish visitors; some synagogues would even hold tours for non-Jewish people. A non-Jewish person can go to a synagogue when they are invited by their Jewish friend or by themselves if they want to learn about Judaism.

The rabbi or cantor will allow non-Jewish people into the synagogue as long as they are proper guests. Proselytizing and “witnessing” to the congregation are not acceptable guest behavior. Do not go to a synagogue to attempt to convert some of the congregants. It is very disrespectful to the Jewish people. Do not just sit there and watch the service or event go through. Try and participate in the events. Sing and dance along with the congregants; it is an opportunity to learn and have fun.

Some of the reasons why Jews allow non-Jewish people to go to their synagogues include general curiosity. You may want to know what goes on in a synagogue; hence you can accompany a Jewish friend and see for yourself. Another reason is a genuine interest in participating in the service. If you wish to pray in a synagogue, the rabbi or cantor can guide you on how to do it. You can also go into a synagogue to join a friend in celebrating a Jewish event like a wedding.

If you are allowed into a synagogue, you should dress in a proper manner. Yarmulke (skullcap) is a hat worn by men during the service or celebration of a Jewish event. You can find a Yarmulke at the entrance of the synagogue. In some synagogues, if you are a married woman, you might be required to wear a piece of clothing that covers your head also known as a “chapel hat,” and it is also provided for if you do not have it.

However, there are some pieces of clothing that you as a non-Jewish cannot wear. For example, non-Jewish people are not allowed to wear Tefillins or Tallits. These clothes are a symbol of the obligation held by the Jewish people to observe the Jewish law. Since non-Jewish people do not observe these laws, you cannot wear them during your visit. You should wear the attire that they will provide for you; if you see other people wearing something different, you are free to inquire why they are wearing it.

In an Orthodox synagogue, it is worthy to note that men and women have to sit in separate sections. Please ensure that when you walk into an Orthodox synagogue, you should sit in the appropriate area. Do not question why or try to change it; all you have to do is respect their traditions, and you will be welcomed to visit them another time.

If invited to a service in a synagogue, try and follow the guidelines of the synagogue. For example, non-Jewish people should stand during the opening of the Ark, and when the Torah is carried to and from the Ark. The Jews always stand when the Ark is opened, and the Torah is carried to and from the Ark as a sign of respect for the Torah and God. During the rest of the service, if the Jewish people stand, you are free to stand with them or sit.

Lastly

There are no restrictions on attending religious weddings; a Jewish person is free to participate in a catholic wedding and vice versa. The world is more accepting now, and people from different religions get along better than in the old days.

Attending another event held by a different faith from yours is a sign of openness and respect towards other people’s religions. It is also a chance to learn about their faith and appreciate it. The only thing you have to do is be respectful at all times during your visit. 

Photo credits:

Main image: Davidbena, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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