What would you say if you were asked by the brother of the bride and groom to co-officiate with me? He is a lawyer as is the bride and her father. The answer was yes, you can, most definitely. I am of the mind that as an independent rabbi I will integrate those things that are most personal and important to the couple using a Jewish ceremony as the basic structure. A corporate lawyer used to standing up in front of a courtroom transferring his speaking skills. What a concept.
The bride’s brother had a good knowledge of Hebrew and was a natural in front of people. This involved much planning with all three of them and myself. I did not have an ego and felt great that this participation by the brother could make the service very intimate and meaningful to all in attendance.
First meeting involved the couple and myself- the groom having the most beautiful smiling eyes I had ever seen. The second meeting in a small corporate board room of a high-powered law firm atop a skyscraper in Manhattan. Besides the Sheckyanu the blessing commemorating significant first events in life, he wanted to recite the Kiddish, the prayer over the wine. What was most unusual was what the brother came up with for the Sheva Brachot or Seven Wedding Blessings. He wrote a modern interpretation of these blessings in English relating them to his sister and soon to be brother in law. That was truly imaginative. We met twice more in the corporate office and I wrote the ceremony up after that.
Tragically my husband of 30 years had gone into the hospital two weeks before the wedding for a heart valve replacement and ended up with double bypass surgery that he never came out of. The date of his death was the Thursday before the Saturday of the wedding. A good friend and colleague of mine covered for me but the groom wanted to come to the hospital and see me. He picked up the service I had prepared, hugged me and starting crying. I was so touched and have stayed friends with them to this day, almost a year after they were married.