Yom Chamishi, 9 Shevat 5775
Thursday, 29 January 2015
Marriage/Civil Partnership PDF Print E-mail

Marriage and Civil Partnership

Marriage – currently only available in the UK to mixed-sex couples – has always been highly valued in Jewish tradition. Traditionally associated in Judaism with procreation, it is now more often entered into as part of a public, legal and – in our case - spiritual cementing of a lifelong loving partnership. Solemnising a marriage under a chuppah is a central rabbinical task. The chuppah wedding is a joy and it is an honour to witness – and bless – a partnership that is often in its infancy. For many, the chuppah represents one of the first steps they take on their Jewish life cycle journey, and we look forward to accompanying the couple during whatever else life brings their way. If you would like to have a Liberal Jewish wedding, please contact your local rabbi or Liberal Judaism, who will be delighted to hear from you.

Please note: British law stipulates that when a couple wishes to be married under Jewish auspices, only the man is required to be a member of a synagogue. However, we strongly encourage both partners to join – not only because we fervently believe in the equality of the sexes – but also because we want the opportunity to welcome both into our Liberal Jewish family. British law also requires that, where a couple seeks a chuppah wedding, both partners must be Jewish.

Marriage laws in England, Wales and Scotland are currently under review and the institution is expected to be made open to same-sex couples later in the year. Liberal Judaism is heavily involved in the consultation and bill committee procedure and looks forward to celebrating the first same-sex wedding under its auspices. However, until the ban on same-sex marriage is lifted, we will proudly continue to bless same-sex civil partnerships, something we have done since we became the first religious group to publish official liturgy for doing so in 2005 with the Brit Ahava. As it stands, religious provision for same-sex civil partnerships is somewhat confusing. In theory it is possible for a civil partnership to take place in a synagogue, providing that the synagogue is registered for the purpose and has purchased an additional license (often costing several thousand pounds). However, the rabbi is not authorised to solemnise the partnership. Instead, a registrar will need to attend, register the marriage and leave the premises before the rabbi is permitted to carry out a Jewish ceremony, though the latter has no legal meaning. We anticipate that this unnecessarily complicated and discriminatory protocol will duly be abolished when marriage becomes equal in Scotland, England and Wales. What most of our same-sex couples do is to hold two separate ceremonies. For example, a couple may become civilly partnered in a registry office before moving on to a synagogue or function room for the chuppah. Some couples do this on the same day in quick succession, while others will ‘quietly’ visit a registry office to become civilly partnered in advance, choosing to make the chuppah ceremony as the main event and excuse to party. If you are a same-sex couple wishing to have a Liberal Jewish blessing on your civil partnership, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Liberal Judaism recognises that love often knows no religious boundary, and Jews do not always fall in love with other Jews. Rather than see this as a negative, we see it as an opportunity. We hope that instead of the Jewish partner ‘marrying out’, the non-Jewish partner will be encouraged to ‘marry in,’ whether figuratively or literally. We do this by welcoming non-Jewish partners and spouses into our congregations as valued friends and sometimes as converts under our auspices. While the law does not authorise rabbis to solemnise mixed-faith marriages (whether mixed-sex or same-sex), many – but not all - are happy to perform blessings on such, provided that the non-Jewish partner is committed to building a Jewish home and to raising any shared children as Jews. Mixed faith blessings do not take place under a chuppah, and are different in structure and content to the Jewish marriage ceremony. To find out more about mixed faith blessings, and to discuss whether and how one might work for you, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .