One of the first weddings I facilitated, over six years ago, occurred on the Jewish holiday of Purim, a joyous and festive one. The couple had met on Purim and wanted their wedding in Manhattan to be an outdoor rooftop celebration. I worked with them for a few months leading up to the affair and we grew to become great friends. The wedding was wonderfully spirited and full of life.
Fast forward, six years, and they had moved from East Village to Long Island City to New Rochelle. They now had an almost two-year-old daughter. They wanted a baby naming ceremony for her and of course it had to be on Purim, which was March 12th of this year.
We all gathered in their living room and I saw the family I had met six years earlier. The little girl was happy to join in the songs and listen to her Hebrew name. We all said the prayers together.
Of course, a wonderful part of the holiday involves eating hamantaschen, pictured here. We enjoyed delicious pastries in the shape of a three-cornered hat. That was the hat of Hamen, the villian of this story, who wanted to destroy the Jews. The heroine was Queen Esther, who appealed to the King to save her people, and prevailed.
Witness the crown on the little girl who represents our modern day Esther, growing up to be a strong woman.
How lucky I was to share this Purim Babynaming and holiday with old friends and bring a little girl into the Jewish world.
A couple called me to officiate the baby naming of their daughter who was celebrating her first birthday as well. They lived in Brooklyn and selected a Russian bar named Karloff in Cobble Hill for an afternoon ceremony. I met with them at their apartment and stayed to see them feed Eve, the baby. She was an adorable little girl who loved the healthy vegetable puree her mother had prepared.
I learned some of the people for whom she was named were great grandmothers who had suffered many hardships and for whom family closeness was paramount. One was the family matriarch who worked in a sweatshop on the Lower east side and was a player in the Yiddish theater. They chose the name Eve for its simplicity and power. The first woman on the earth and the one who gives life to all. Her middle name was chosen in honor of her grandfather Howard who was a man with a ready smile and sense of adventure. They already see evidence of these traits in Eve.
It was a warm and loving ceremony with all family members participating. Rob, the father of the baby, used the tallit from his bar mitzvah. A kiddish cup was used from a family wedding as well. And they used an old Hasidic tradition at the end of the ceremony. Family and friends were supposed to shower the child with candy and other sweets to symbolize their wishes that both the child and parents have a sweet life. So, all who attended received a little bag of candy to take home.
The Brooklyn bar setting at Karloff’s was intimate and contemporary at the same time. The bar was beautiful and the waiters and waitresses accommodating. Lunch was served with drinks, of course, and everyone was so relaxed and welcoming. This may be setting a great trend as Brooklyn is now doing in food and community.
Thanks to Michelle Murray, photograher.
Last year I officiated an interfaith wedding in Montauk at Gurney’s Inn on the ocean. The bride and groom chose me and a minister to preside and it was a beautiful and spiritual ceremony. In the audience was the bride’s first cousin who was living in Brooklyn expecting a baby in several months.
This summer I received a call from this new mother, who was moving to Connecticut where her now one-year-old twin boys could experience the outdoors and enjoy proximity to the water. She asked if I would create a baby-naming ceremony for little Everett and Sam.
I visited her and the boys in Brooklyn and learned a great deal about the family and the twins’ different personalities. I traveled by train up to New Haven a few weeks ago and was picked up and whisked off to their new home, under renovation. We set up the service on the front lawn.
The first cousin I married in Montauk was present as were her parents. I felt like a part of the family and we all participated in the Shecheyanu and Kiddish prayer. Then I asked for blessings which were spontaneously given by the 12 people in attendance. After the service, we all ate together and watched the kids play.
How lucky am I to be a part of such wonderful occasions with people with whom I share a history?
A couple called me, last winter, to plan a baby naming for their beautiful, one-year-old daughter, Ava. The mother hailed from sunny California and had converted to Judaism. Her husband had been raised in a Jewish home and wanted to perpetuate the religion for his kids.
We met at my apartment in NYC and I learned about their lives, past and present, as parents. He lived within ten minutes of his job and could come home for lunch to be with his kids. A true modem father. She seemed to handle both children effortlessly in a laid-back, warm, and empowering manner.
The service included the grandparents reciting short prayers and lovely blessings. I led a group of 40 people present in their living room in Hine Ma Tov . The English translation is “How good and pleasing if people could sit together in unity.” We joined hands and all sang it together.
I explained that naming is a way the Jewish people have of linking the past,, present, and future, as a name of the child is taken from a deceased relative. It is the true realization of L’Dor va ‘Dor, which means “From generation to generation.”
I love to see my brides and grooms having children!
I officiated at the interfaith wedding, two years ago, of two lawyers. One was brought up Catholic, the other one Jewish. I co-officiated with a wonderful Catholic priest, Father Tom who had been the family priest. We worked on the service with the bride and groom and it was warm, witty and personal. Even the day’s weather cooperated at sunset on a rooftop in Tribeca. I got to know both sets of parents and felt that the families welcomed me into the event.
How amazing it was when I received the email from the bride that she had a little girl some months back and wanted me to do a baby-naming ceremony with the priest. It was Father Tom and I again at a historic building in Park Slope this winter. We had the opportunity to plan an interfaith baby-naming and it was my first one. I visited the couple who lived in a former church converted into a condo in Brooklyn. The sun through the stain glass windows and the soaring ceilings made it a magical place. They had much input deciding to do blessings themselves and give honors to their parents and grandparents. Tom and I filled in the blanks with prayers and blessings ourselves. The ceremony was enjoyed by Emily their daughter of seven months. She didn’t cry through the whole thing, so I guess we did something right.
I find myself fortunate to connect with my past brides and grooms and be at these wonderful events of the next generation they have produced. The fact that another officiant can work with me to produce a spiritual inclusive service is something I am proud of.