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Celebrations of Love & Commitment

“Your presence and attention to so many ritual moments we might have missed made our wedding ceremony so much more meaningful. Far more than being an “officiant” on our wedding day, you helped us (long before our wedding) to consider the values and desires at the core of our relationship. You honored both of our religious traditions and family customs and worked with us to incorporate these into our ceremony. Because of your guidance and attention, our wedding felt sacred and the process you took us through helps us as our relationship grows and our circumstances change. We feel like we can always turn to you as a valued confidante and friend. Thank you.” – Danielle & Jesse

When two people choose to commit to a loving partnership, many of us wish to honor that with ritual. A wedding is both a ceremony and the visible and public celebration of a sacred process of discernment and cultivating the deep commitment of life partnership. Designed to acknowledge the status change of two independent individuals to a wedded couple and sacred partnership, a wedding recognizes the individual, communal, spiritual and legal transformation that is activated by the ritual of committing to one another beneath the chuppah (wedding canopy). 

 Blessings offered beneath a chuppah are poignant and powerful.

When Rabbi Shimberg describes her work, she clarifies that she does not simply “officiate” at weddings. She sees a rabbi’s role as far more substantial than merely showing up, uttering a formulary of words, and placing the names of a particular couple within that context. A commitment as substantial as marriage deserves a thoughtful, discerning, and experienced spiritual guide. And an  important part of preparing for marriage is time spent in sacred conversation, thinking critically and with open hearts about issues that will undoubtedly arise in the context of marriage. 

A rabbi’s role is to serve couples and their extended family as a pastoral guide, co-creator, and ritual conductor of lifecycle celebrations — a marriage doula — ensuring a meaningful transition from the status of a newly engaged couple to that of married beloveds. I provide spiritual nourishment and guidance to couples as we work toward their wedding day, and remain connected and available to them for a lifetime. Couples find the time they spend with me prepares them well to access sacred space beneath the chuppah on their wedding day, and in the homes they create together thereafter. Designing the right wedding ritual for each couple may include examining religious, cultural, spiritual, intellectual, and familial needs and interests or navigating relational complexity. These are all made easier with the guidance and expertise of a trusted rabbi.
– Rabbi Jessica Shimberg

In addition to working with couples toward weddings, Rabbi Shimberg also enjoys assisting couples as they seek to create ritual around a significant anniversary or as a way or renewing their commitment to one another.

blessingamybobblackandwhite.jpgSometimes our religious institutions lag a bit behind, affording Rabbi Jessica the blessing of uniting this couple while myriad rabbis close to the couple were joyfully present, and not yet permitted to officiate at this Jewish wedding uniting a bride who was raised in the Conservative movement and teaches at an Orthodox day school and a groom who is a fully committed ger toshav.

water ritual tara and tayo.jpgBefore signing the ketubah (marriage contract), Rabbi Jessica often facilitates a ritual of sanctifying the hands of the beloveds using the Jewish blessing for hand-washing (elevating one’s hands/netilat yadayim).

Jewish & Muslim parents sit just beyond the chuppah at this wedding of groom who self-identifies as Jewish & Muslim parents beam at their children beneath the chuppah at this wedding of a groom who identifies as “ex-Muslim” and bride who identifies as Jewish.

DanielleJess_Wedding_8-16-15_ColeyCo-256.JPGThis couple chose to lift up the rights and dignities of all couples to be married, requesting that I incorporate words of the Supreme Court decision to legally allow same-sex marriages long after so many of us knew that such a union was sacred and sanctified.

Breaking the glass(es) ~ a powerful and beloved Jewish customs, expanded to reflect our lived experiences. Mazal tov!