I have been officiating at interfaith marriages for the past 33 years. I have discovered that individual Jewish people are more important to me than the Jewish people as a whole. Simply put, I put people first. Period. The rest of my rabbinate for the past 33 years has been just that – putting people first, caring for their personal lives, personal dreams, personal struggles, personal wrestling with who they are and how they can make lives of meaning and purpose and holiness regardless of who they love and who they marry.
This has been my guiding principle and continues to guide my choices and decisions to this day. It is why I have always been willing to do same-gender commitment ceremonies or weddings, interfaith marriages, and as a congregational rabbi with a relatively large congregation of about 1,100 families, include non-Jewish partners and parents fully in every aspect of congregational life with absolutely no regrets.
My goal is for every couple to know that when they have issues about how to live their lives religiously, how to raise their children, what choices are the best for them to make, they can turn to me as a rabbi and feel confident that I will be a safe and non-judgmental place to work through these many issues. In my personal experience that is exactly what has taken place over and over again. I officiate at a couple’s wedding. I give them a membership in my synagogue. They may use it to come to High Holy Day services or they may not use it at all until they have a child years later – and then I am the clergy and my synagogue is the sacred community in which they know they will feel most comfortable as they figure out how to create their own unique religious lifestyle.
After 33 years of officiating at interfaith marriages of all kinds, I continue to believe that putting people first is the most important value that I represent as a rabbi. I know it’s a cliché, but the most important principle which informs my entire rabbinate, is the truth that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. It is caring for people and truly being present in their lives and believing that people are doing the best they can to bring meaning and a sense of the sacred into their own lives that continues to inspire me to be a rabbi in the first place.
Rabbi Reubenis available for Wedding Celebrations