Conservative Movement launches new wedding campaign

In new ceremony, woman can break the glass and/or give husband a ring.

chuppah wedding good 298 (photo credit: Courtesy)
chuppah wedding good 298
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Conservative (Masorti) Movement launched a new campaign this week to promote its style of a wedding ceremony to Israeli couples. The campaign includes radio advertisements and a new Internet site offering young couples a ceremony that combines tradition with modernity and Jewish content with egalitarianism. A Conservative rabbi will not marry a Jew and a gentile, and some will not allow a Cohen to marry a divorced woman or a convert. But in the Conservative ceremony he or she will permit the woman to break the glass and some allow the bride to sanctify the husband with a ring. "We will offer couples a more human touch that is sensitive to their needs," said Rabbi Andy Sachs, Chairman of the Conservative Movement's Rabbinical Assembly. "We will also teach the couple about the laws of family purity if they want to, but we will do it in a way that makes it significant and meaningful." However, since Orthodoxy has a monopoly over the registration of marriages between Jews inside Israel, Conservative marriages performed within the state are not recognized. The Conservative Movement, therefore, recommends marrying abroad in a civil marriage, which is recognized by the state, and then conducting a Conservative wedding afterward. However, modern Orthodox Rabbi Benny Lau said in response that the Conservative Movement's initiative did not answer a real need. "Most people who want a traditional wedding ceremony are interested in connecting themselves to their Jewish past," said Lau. "They want a ceremony that their parents, grandparents and previous generations chose." Lau also said that the Orthodox ceremony was flexible enough to allow for more feminine expression. "The bride can give the groom a ring under the chuppah if she wants to as long as she does not sanctify him. The woman can also make a speech under the chuppah. If the right rabbi performs the ceremony the needs of the couple can usually be fulfilled without compromising on Halacha."