“Echod”: Hebrew for the word, One. Not one of many but One and no other.

Enter Rabbi Barry's Echod Moments

Judaism, Buddhism and Science

Alan Dressler, Author of Voyage to the Great Attractor. Along with other top scientist, began the project of mapping the Universe, as we know it today because of the Hubble Telescope. Alan is also on the team that is building the world’s largest telescope, which will take astronomy to the next level.

 

The Great Attractor was at work when Alan met Charmeen. Their mutual love of Art, Music, Poetry and nature made a permanent connection to the soul.

 

The ceremony included a blend of Jewish and Chinese traditions. My three favorites were the Tea Ceremony, presented to the only living parent, Charmeen’s Mother. Another notable event was at the end when, traditionally, I wrap the couple with a Tallit for the Benediction, they selected a beautiful Red Shawl to wrap the two of them in. Afterward, all the guests will sign the Stole as a permanent keepsake. The breaking of the glass was also impacting. Alan had from his Mothers possessions, a set of 8 Antique Orrifores Crystal glasses. One of these treasures was what they used for the breaking of the glass. It demonstrated that even the most valuable material possessions, pale in comparison to the love that is celebrated in this moment.

 

One more thing, I was able to surprise the groom by using the title of his book as the theme of the wedding, “A Voyage to the Great Attractor”.Cropped for Blog

The Path to Life Abundant, The Sheheheyanu

Have you ever noticed how many Jewish prayers begin with gratitude? “Blessed are you…” is praise for all the good and loving and true there is in our lives. In a wedding ceremony, the prayer, the Sheheheyanu is most always recited. What a powerful way to begin the sharing of your commitments together with this ancient tradition.

 

When reciting prayers in a wedding, I will usually paraphrase the original to a more intimate expression, such as, “We give thanks to the Source of all Life, that which has given us Life and has sustained us and brought us to this joyous place.” This is such a powerful statement of gratitude.

 

With a wedding, however, it doesn’t take much insight to see the overwhelming possibilities for gratitude to exist. This is such a wonderful time for family and friends to enter into the celebration of the two becoming one. There is so much joy felt when family and friends begin all their preparations for the big event. Energy is beginning to simmer, so to speak days before the assembly gathers. In the week before the wedding, family form out of town are arriving with parties and dinners filling the moments before the big day. There is so much to be grateful for as new spouses. You are grateful for each other, for the parents who raised each of you, for the friends who are equally excited for this moment.

 

With all the emphasis on Thanksgiving this last week, this phrase began to percolate in my mind. As I wrote this down and read the words over and over, I realized that I was given an insight to the power contained in this expression of Thanksgiving. Here are the words that lead us into living life the way we were meant to live, abundantly. “The evidence of being in the right place is the presence of gratitude. The path to the right place is through the practice of gratitude.”

 

It is my wish for you that each step of your wedding preparation, will lead you more and more into Gratitude and the wedding celebration that you have dreamed of. Rabbi Barry Tuchman, Interfaith Officiant

Powerful Wedding Symbols

Symbolism throughout all time has played an important part of what holds a society, religion or belief system together.  These are signs, markings, and visual metaphors without words that stimulate and define the history of a people.  We see symbols every day as we navigate our movements by them.  They tell us to go, stop, yield; we identify the brands we buy with the symbol or logo of that product.  Symbols tell that this parking spot is reserved for the disabled.  We know which rest room to enter because of the Universal Symbol on the door. They are vital for every society to live together in what is the hope of harmony.

In a Jewish wedding or any wedding for that mater, Symbols fill the nuptial space the couple and their Officiant creates.  The Chuppah, Kiddush Cup, Unity Candle, the rings, Aras and Lasso are some of many symbols we rely on to communicate what is meaningful to us in a wedding.

One of my favorite traditions using a symbol is at the end of the ceremony. The couple is wrapped in a Tallit or Tallis. This Jewish garment is a traditional prayer shawl. Then the couple is blessed on their way by the rabbi and all present.

As I explain what is being done, I say about the Tallit, that it is an “outward expression of an inward attitude.” It is a visual expression of what is happening on the inside of the couple, binding them together at the Soul level, making them one. The garment is made up of many thousands of threads but it is only one garment, symbolic of the Holy One, where there is no other.

As you plan your wedding ceremony, begin thinking, “What important Symbols do I want in my ceremony?” Ask your rabbi, priest, pastor or officiant to help create a story with symbols that explain the love and commitment you share together. It might not even be a religious symbol. I married a couple once that met, skydiving. What do you think the Chuppah Cover was? Yes, a parachute. That was a perfect symbol for them.

images

Bride forgets the Ring

As the bride stepped up to the Chuppah with panic and tears in her eyes, she whispered to me, “I forgot the grooms wedding ring in the hotel room.” This train has left the station”, I thought and there is no turning back. Learning a long time ago to think on my feet, I waited for the wisdom of Solomon to solve the situation. I wish that it was my idea but by the swift thinking of the maid of honor, she slipped her wedding ring in the brides hand and no one knew the wiser. The ceremony was spectacular.

The moral of the story is, that there is never a situation which doesn’t have a solution.

A New Take on Wine in a Box

Recently, I have been asked to share a relatively new tradition to wedding ceremonies. This is especially beautiful for a Jewish or Interfaith ceremony. There is a Jewish tradition called the, “The Seven Blessings” The second century tradition has evolved over time to be a lovely inclusion into the wedding. These are seven different blessings for different aspects of the couple’s relationship and their connection to their traditions.

Textual versions of the 7 Blessings are modified or customized to reflect the couple getting married. Traditionally, the Rabbi will recite them but this is a perfect time to honor some special people in your lives. I recommend that a Father or all their parents, friends or family to each read a blessing.

Now, we come to the box. A beautiful wooden box is sitting on a sturdy table. It has seven pre-drilled holes in the lid to match the box. There are seven brass nails that will fit in each hole. The box can be custom made or purchased at a wine or craft shop. The couple selects a favorite, special bottle of wine that they both love. They place the wine inside the box along with a private letters, unread by the other, about how they feel on their wedding day. Each letter is sealed and included into the box.

I usually explain what is happening, play by play and then the seven readers are invited up to each read a blessing and hammer in a nail for each blessing.

The couple displays the box in their home for five years at which time, they, open the box, read the letters and drink the wine. On your wedding day, you are creating an Echod Moment for your fifth anniversary. Now that’s special!

Smartphones and cameras are a distraction

Smartphones and cameras are a distraction.  Your guests are starring through their Smartphone or camera, they are not 100% present.  I always make it a point at the beginning of every ceremony to have the couple turn and acknowledge their guests.  Everyone loves to be acknowledged, and I always sense an invisible wall that separates the guests and wedding party begin to crumble, creating a more intimate space.

 Over the past several years, I have begun to notice something quite odd to behold at the beginning of most weddings.  I usually turn the couple to face their guests, while saying, “Sandra and Herb, take a look at those faces!  These are some of the most important people in your lives…” Now, more than ever, I am having the couple turn, while I say, “Take a look at those faces and cell phones.”  Everyone has a good laugh visualizing what the couple must be looking at.  After acknowledging the guests, I say, “Sandra and Herb went through a lot of photographers before they selected the ones that you see around you.  Since they are doing such a great job capturing this moment, please put your devices away, so that you can be completely present with what is about to happen.” 

 Anyone who is distracted doing anything during a ceremony can’t help but not have the same experience as someone who is totally immersed in the event.  Maximize the energy that surrounds your ceremony, and ask for the guests’ cooperation.

In the Beginning, There’s Attraction

When their eyes met for the first time, something miraculous happened, just as it has since the first man and woman.

A connection that is almost beyond explanation creates a strong desire to be together.  Poems and songs have been written about it.  Immeasurable are the titles of books dedicated to it.  It is a powerful emotion that is the nucleus of what moves us forward and keeps us grounded.  It is what brings us together and what brings us life.  What is this feeling that attraction invites us to experience?  It is Love.

When two people are destined to be together, and they initially meet each other’s gaze, they recognize something familiar. What is this, which we see in the other that awakens our heart? It is Soul.  Not, “a Soul,” not, “Souls,” just Soul.  Soul dwells in all of us.  We may not consciously recognize it as Soul – we simply feel a bond to that special other.  As a sense of peace, joy, and love fills us with that gaze, we go even deeper into our connection. This is the beginning of what we call Intimacy.

When we feel safe with another, we invite that person into our lives, and our trust grows. Like peeling away the layers of an onion, lifelong defense mechanisms that once protected our false sense of self, begin to fall away, revealing our true nature to the other.  The safer we feel, the deeper we go.  Thus, intimacy (Into Me You See) becomes a vital and even necessary part of a healthy relationship.

This recognition of Soul is evident in thriving relationships.  Some are deeper than others, but if the relationship is to grow and mature, this process of self-discovery is essential.  So, the progression continues.  Attraction generates trust, which leads to openness, and then intimacy, eventually stimulating a stronger bond and personal growth.

This progress is natural in every healthy relationship.  And when all said and done, the result is always a discovery about who we truly are.

About Your Vows

The promises you share with each other during your ceremony should only contain words which each of you identify with. These are promises of your commitment to each other. Vows are not a formal track every bride and groom repeats, thinking that there is something magic in the prescribed wording of the text. What will make your vows sacred is not the text but the intent. Vows are an outward expression of your promise to be with your partner no matter what.

Vows are not opportunities to express your feelings of love or how the other makes you a better person. These are important feelings and expressions of love, but they are not what should be included in your vows.

As you view the vows I have selected or written, you will notice two things similar to all of them. First, they are only one paragraph long. Your vows are not the cue to wax eloquent, poetic or long. Second, you will notice that vows only contain promises to the other such as, “I will be by your side, for in good times as well as trying…” “Sickness/Health, better/worse” etc.

Many couples who write their own vows will use these as a guide. They also like to keep their original vows secret, to share with their beloved just at the ceremony as a surprise.

Understanding the concept of what the vows are, will aid you in choosing the vows which most closely match the commitment the two of you share. Use these any way you wish. Cut and paste, copy or use as a basic template for your own creative promises to each other.

Sample Vows

1. Traditional Jewish: Do you, (groom) take (bride) to be your wife, promising to cherish and protect her, whether in good fortune or in adversity and to seek together with her a life hallowed by the faith of Israel?

And do you, (bride) take (groom) to be your husband, promising to cherish and protect him whether in good fortune or in adversity and to seek together with him a life hallowed by the faith of Israel?

2. I ___________ take you _________ to be my wedded _______________. To have and to hold from this day forward. For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and times of trial from this day forth.

3. Groom: ___________, to you this day, I give a promise. I promise to take you to my heart as you are and as you will be. Your joy will be my joy, your sorrow will be my sorrow. I promise to you my life’s labor, my trust, and my friendship. We shall grow together and be more in love in the future than we are today. I will be sanctuary, I will be warmth, I will be acceptance.

Bride: __________, from you, my dearest, I accept this promise. I receive it with love and give to you a promise. I stand with you as companion, lover, and friend, I promise you my life’s devotion as we grow closer together, committed to be more in love in the future than we are today. I will be strength, I will be light, and I will be hope.

4. I, ___________ receive you, ___________ as my wife. To love and to adore from this day on. I will stay by your side as a support and helper. In times that are trying and times of joy. When you are sick, I will comfort you. When you are fearful, I will hold you. Accept my complete commitment, which I pledge to you this day.

I, ____________Accept your commitment and receive you as my husband and give myself to you from this day forward. I will stay by you side as a support and helper. In times that are trying and times of Joy. When you are sick, I will comfort you. When you are fearful, I will hold you. Accept my complete commitment, which I pledge to you this day.

5.____________, I receive you as my wife from this moment on. I will be a support for you and care for you in times of joy and times of sorrow. In times of prosperity and times of lack, I will be with you. In times of illness and times of health, you will find me by your side. Accept this day, the greatest gift I could bestow, a gift freely given, the gift of my love.

____________, I receive your gift with an open heart from this moment on. I will also stay by your side in times of joy and time of sorrow. In times of prosperity as well as times of lack, I will remain faithful. We will share and grow together in the periods of illness as in time of health. Accept this day the greatest gift I could bestow, a gift freely given, the gift of my love.

6. ____________, in this and every moment after, I embrace you as my wife. It is with deep love and commitment, that I pledge my life and loyalty to you. Beside you I will stand, in times that are prosperous as well as times that may be lean. Whether you are well or ill, you will find me beside you. In seasons of joy and seasons of challenge, I will be strength to you. Accept these promises which I gladly share with you this day.

___________, I receive your pledge and love, embracing you as my husband, in this moment and every moment after. I pledge to you my love and loyalty. Beside you I will stand in times that are prosperous as well as times that are lean. Whether you are well or ill, I will remain beside you. In seasons of joy and seasons of challenge, I will be strength to you. Accept these promises which I gladly share with you this day.

NOTE:

1. Vows are only one paragraph long. 2. Vows are your promises to your beloved.

Remember, this is your wedding and there are no rules as to what you say and how you say it. Be creative or inspirational. Humor works well as long as the vows have the words of commitment within them.

The Blessing of the Hands

This is perfect for bringing family to be part of the ceremony.  I suggest that both Fathers read this responsibly just before the ring ceremony.  It can be done by the rabbi or the Mothers, which makes the most sense to you.

“These hands you hold, are the hands of your best friend on your wedding day.

 They are the hands that will be strength to you, as together you step into the future.

 These are the hands from which you will receive passionate embraces throughout the years.

 These are the hands that will steady you, should your mind be filled with fear.

 These are the hands that will wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow and tears of joy.

 And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.”

Make your Chuppah your home

Home is the center of the couple’s life together.  Having a symbol of the Home makes perfect sense in creating your wedding ceremony.  Jewish or not, the Wedding Canapé is an icon that should be considered when crafting your ceremony.  I don’t want couples to have a Chuppah because it is expected of by the Jewish partner or their parents expectations. I always encourage couples to think about what “Home” means to them and how they can personalize their Chuppah.  This is what makes the Chuppah so powerful.

I am not speaking about how the florist decorates it, it is about why you chose the flowers you are using.  Using a Father’s or Grandfather’s tallit, (prayer shawl) coving the Chuppah speaks of the generations of devotion to God covers your home.  If the groom selects to make the Chuppah poles, the kind of wood used can have symbolism as to the personality of your relationship to each other.   If the Chuppah is large, it speaks of a large family, if small, the word, cozy comes to mind.  Manzanita wood is the strongest wood on the planet.  That speaks to the strength of your relationship.  Willow, speaks of being able to bend with the winds of time and trials that come your way, yet as with the willow, it bends without breaking.

 

Photos of loved one’s like family who has passed, even pet photos, represent their valued place in your home.  Most of all whatever you do is make the Chuppah yours.

Get In Touch With Rabbi Barry

Weddings With Spirit