Pete Ekizian recently spoke with Rabbi David S. Gruber, the interfaith wedding rabbi who performs interfaith marriages. Rabbi David has a unique position with his views on couples getting married and we are thrilled he is letting us share this information with our readers.
Pete: On your website, Rabbi, it says that you perform interfaith weddings. How did that come about?
Rabbi David: Like most great ideas, it came from my wife. I am an 8th generation rabbi; it’s kind of like the family business. I was born in the U.S., but I grew up in Israel, so even though my dad is a Conservative rabbi, we were pretty much raised Orthodox, because in Israel, if you are religious, you’re Orthodox. I went through the Orthodox school system, and served in the Israeli army. I studied in yeshiva for seven years, and became ordained as an Orthodox rabbi. My wife and I were looking for some adventure, so we went to live in New Zealand. I served as the rabbi of the Orthodox congregation in Wellington, the capital. Then we kind of wanted to return to civilization, so we moved to the States. I ran schools and educational organizations in a few different Jewish communities. That brought me to Dallas. In mid-2006, I had an epiphany moment, and I discovered I was no longer Orthodox, and eventually I ended up somewhere a little left of Reform. Obviously, I could no longer continue running Orthodox schools. I was not really sure what I would do. Fortunately, my wife is a lot smarter than I am. She suggested that I should do interfaith weddings. I started officiating in 2008, and here I am 370 weddings later!
Planning a wedding and need an interfaith officiate? Contact Rabbi David today at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pete: And how have your clients responded?
Rabbi David: Most couples are quite relieved to find me! Most rabbis will not officiate an interfaith wedding. Period. Most rabbis who will officiate an interfaith wedding, attach one or more conditions to such officiating, such as not officiating on the Sabbath, not co-officiating with non-Jewish clergy, and/or not officiating unless the couple agrees to raise their children as Jewish. Almost all rabbis who will officiate an interfaith wedding will not officiate in a church or allow any mention of Jesus in the ceremony. I, on the other hand, will gladly officiate at your interfaith wedding, no ifs, buts or maybes! I will happily co-officiate with non-Jewish clergy, officiate on Friday night or on Saturday, and I will leave child rearing decisions to you. I will be honored to officiate at any location you are both comfortable with, including a church. I am comfortable using theistic or non-theistic language, and I will not dictate to you or the other officiant what he or she can and cannot mention when it comes to God's name. This is why most couples are quite relieved to find me!
Pete: Why are you successful in a niche where many others have failed?
Rabbi David: I believe it is because I view the ceremony as the couple’s ceremony, not my ceremony. That is why I don’t have a bunch of things they need to do, or a bunch of things they can’t do. That is also why I never shoehorn a couple into a preconceived ceremony. I build the ceremony around the couple and with the couple. Beyond that, it helps that I will travel anywhere you need me to go (in the U.S. or abroad) to officiate your interfaith wedding, and that I can officiate in English, Hebrew, Spanish or any combination of those languages.
Pete: What do you think can’t be replicated (quickly) about what you do for your clients?
Rabbi David: Every single ceremony I officiate or co-officiate I make sure that every single person attending is able to say (regardless of background, culture, faith or lack thereof):
• I understood everything, because everything was explained;
• Not only did I understand everything, I felt welcome, comfortable, and validated, because everything was explained in an inclusive manner;
• I could tell that the officiant had taken the time to get to know the couple;
• That was one of the best ceremonies ever; I am ready to party!
Pete: What do you think your unique skillset or superpower is that has helped you become successful?
Rabbi David: It really boils down to putting myself in the place of the client. I ask myself, “How would I want to be treated, if I, a Jew marrying a non-Jew or vice versa, asked a rabbi to be part of my wedding?” I act accordingly. It’s just that simple.
Pete: What's the best way for people interested in your service to get in touch with you?
Rabbi David: I am just a call, text or email me away. 469-222-0047 or email@example.com, and check out my website www.interfaithweddingrabbi.net to learn more about how I can help you make your wedding day extra special!