Your average Conservative Jewish wedding is similar to a traditional wedding ceremony, integrating most of the traditional rituals with a few adaptations in transit. The duty of the bride is the most notable difference between an Orthodox Jewish wedding and a Conservative Jewish wedding. Conservative Judaism is generally egalitarian and as a result, have made some adjustments to several traditional observances.
The best place from which start planning your Conservative Jewish wedding is by taking a look at a traditional wedding as a template and with your officiant, make the changes you are interested in making. Here is a list of common adjustments that are made to Conservative Jewish weddings:
- Aufruf - Often takes place the Shabbat prior to the wedding, blessings are recited over the Torah. Many Conservative rabbis allow both men and women to take part in the recitation of the blessings.
- Bedeken - A traditional veiling ceremony by which the groom places a veil over the bride just before the ceremony. Many couples turn to a corresponding act such as the bride placing a kippah on the grooms head or cloaking him with a tallit.
- Hakafot (Circling the Groom) - Traditionally a bride circles the groom upon arriving at the chuppah. Conservative Jewish weddings often modify this tradition by having the bride and groom circle one after another, circling the chuppah or eliminating it from the ceremony.
- Ketubah - A traditional Jewish wedding contract with the Conservative Rabbinical Authority adjustment known as the ‘Lieberman Clause’ which was introduced as additional protection for a woman. Essentially, the husband legally commits to agreeing to a divorce should his wife request one. Additionally, many couples choose to have the English translation of the traditional Aramaic to be included.
- Ketubah Witnesses - While traditional holds the witnesses must be adult Jewish males, unrelated to the groom or bride by blood or marriage, some Conservative rabbis allow women to serve as a witness, while others maintain the two adult males as a minimum while permitting two additional witnesses to be women ensuring traditional requirements are met.
- Ring Ceremony - Traditionally the groom presents the bride with a ring paired with a repeat of the verse Thou art sanctified unto me with this ring, in the tradition of Moses and Israel. With egalitarian concepts taken into consideration, Conservative Jewish weddings have modified the ring ceremony to include the act of the bride also giving the groom a ring with the recitation of I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.’
- Minyan - A Conservative Jewish wedding will include a minyan and in keeping with egalitarianism, adult women can be included (a detour from the tradition which requires ten adult men).
- Seven Blessings - The festive meal portion of a Conservative Jewish wedding will include the traditional recitation of Birkat Hamazon and the Sheva Brachot. It is a great honor to be chosen to participate in the recitation of the Sheva Brachot. Traditionally this is done by men, but some Conservative rabbis allow women to recite
As you can see, a Conservative Jewish wedding differs only slightly, and mainly in its adaptations of the woman's role in several aspects of the ceremony.
If you are looking to customize your ketubah to reflect your Conservative Jewish wedding, make sure to peruse the beautiful masterpieces Amalya Nini creates, along with the Conservative text options available.