While on Offbeat Bride a few days ago, I was reading about one particular wedding, and bristled when I read this particular paragraph:
I also loved the idea of a Jewish Ketubah, so Andy made something similar. It’s a beautiful marriage certificate and a promise to each other to hang on the wall.
I pride myself on being an accepting person, and I never really thought before about how I would feel if a non-Jewish person decided to incorporate Jewish elements into their wedding. I’ve already groaned and rolled my eyes numerous times over “wannabe Jews” (yes, such things exist) who try to horn in on our holidays and make pathetic attempts to speak Yiddish and fail spectacularly at making good challah and babka. I generally make sure to steer clear of them whenever possible so they don’t try to make friends with me. But this is the first time I’ve come across a non-Jewish couple using an element like this in their wedding. And I am honestly at a loss at how I feel about it, but my first instinct is being peeved. I’m not a fan of cut-and-paste cultural traditions.
Would I be as angry if they had simply opted for a wedding contract, without saying that they got the idea from a Jewish ketubah? Probably not. But if they had simply gone for a wedding contract, is neutering it completely from its original cultural context much better? I’d probably just be making snarky comments along the lines of “Oh you mean a ketubah?”
I am of course, planning on having a Jewish wedding, even though Jaime’s not Jewish and I’m not religious. Secular/Humanistic Jewish culture means that there are great changes to how the weddings are done, such as both parties smashing a glass, gender-neutral and interfaith/secular ketubah vows, and other minor tweaks and major overhauls. Should I still be upset about a goyishe couple using a ketubah, or just glad that they gave a nod to the origins of their wedding contract? Especially since the ketubah itself has come such a long way since its original purpose, as essentially a virginity guarantee, and has been transformed into a promise of mutual love and respect? Shouldn’t every couple strive to fulfil such a promise?
I still cock an eyebrow at the thought, and believe me, if the next non-Jewish wedding I show up to has chuppahs and kippahs, I’m retiring to the mountains. But I am not going to begrudge this couple for doing this. It was done in a reasonably respectful fashion. They were at least polite in their cultural interest, and are not nearly as obnoxious and embarrassing as Kabalah enthusiasts.
Really though, if you wake up one day and think, “Hey, you know what sounds peachy? Carrying the emotional baggage of +2,000 years of oppression, discrimination, and frequent bouts of genocide and exile!” then maybe you’ve gotten a bit too enthusiastic, and should stick to your own cultural background. Believe me, it’s not as fun as it sounds to have that weighing on your soul.