Monday, August 06, 2007

Well that sucks!

So yesterday I headed down to Loehman's on 17th street and 7th avenue with my mom who was in town for a week. She wanted to "buy me a new wardrobe" or something to that extent. Seeing as how ungirly I am, this prospect was not as appealing to me as it would be for other girls. I was done looking for clothes in like 5 minutes picking out a brown dress (which I already have its identical in black), two identical blouses in different shades, and a black skirt which looks just like all my others. I was done. New wardrobe was in place. My mom was still standing at the August Silk rack pondering a sweater she'd picked up 10 minutes ago. I was already bored. Thank goodness I had brought along my Sunday NY Times. I opened quickly to my favorite section, Sunday Style, so I could look up all the Jewish couples in the wedding listings and see if I recognize any names of the officiating Rabbis. I work with Rabbis so its sometimes fun to be like "oh look, Rabbi Cohen from Texas. He's really nice!" I'm a huge dork. This is my weekly activity.

Unfortunately, I didn't quite make it to the wedding listings. On Page 1 I found the article Great Wedding! But Was It Legal? It seems that more and more Americans (myself included) were inspired by Joey Tribbiani on Friends when he applied online to be a Minister so he could officiate at Monica and Chandler's wedding. I thought becoming an ordained minister online would be a great story to tell around the Shabbos table. So I went to the Church of Spiritual Humanism's website, read their terms and conditions, decided this would be a good choice of online ministries since of all the online Churches I found, this seemed to be the most religion-free religion. I wouldn't be excommunicated from my shul for signing on. So I signed up. It wasn't until recently that a buddy of mine asked me to officiate her civil ceremony. Obviously, since I'm not a Rabbi I can not officiate the halachic ceremony, nor would I want to, but this would be a fun thing that the couple could do amongst a handful of friends and would have a funny anecdote for their grandkids. I have already been to a handful of these civil ceremonies (my roommate's at City Hall, and a couple in Rabbi Yuter's apartment). I was honored to be asked. I needed to go down to City Hall to get certified by the City of New York. Its one thing to have your ordination from somewhere, but the city must keep track of those people officiating legal ceremonies. I stood in line at the City Clerks office behind a nice Conservative Rabbi from Long Island. After a little wait I was presented with my Certificate of Ordination! I was fired up!

The New York Times has written that so many people are signing up as online ministers for the sole purpose of marrying a specific couple that many states are warning that these ministers may not have kosher enough ordination to be considered marriage officiants. The article states cases where the person applied online for their clergy title to marry someone and the marriage was later considered null since he wasn't "officially" ordained. Man! This is gonna be bad for business.

Heres the low down. According to my ministry, their members have successfully performed legal weddings in New York City. I had followed all the instructions listed on the City Clerk's website. The City Clerk read through the church's Articles of Incorporation (albeit was a strange and bemused look on her face), and stamped her approval on my Certificate. This article gave me (and the couple I'm marrying on Monday) a little scare, but we are now feeling a little more confident. So if you are in the midst of planning your wedding, commitment ceremony, baby naming, handfasting (which is some sort of satanic ceremony, from the descriptions I've read on Wikipedia), invocations, or other religious services and ceremonies, please remember that as an Ordained Clergy Person and Associate Pastor in the Church of Scientific Humanism, I can officiate your ceremony. You should put me on speed dial.

P.S. To all my friends who I haven't spoken to in a while. Have no fear. I have not converted to any strange religion or joined a crazy cult. I am still an Orthodox Jew and member in good standing of Mt. Sinai in Washington Heights. As always, I am a little nutty, but not enough for you to worry about.


Mark Dredze said...

Welcome to the clergy.

Jacob Da Jew said...

Wacky and cool!

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

of course, i am not [yet iy"H] a rabbi, but i'm pretty sure that for a halakhic wedding you don't actually need a rabbi, you just need someone who knows what's going on and how everything should work.

of course, in the next few years i may learn some secret rabbi wedding mumbo jumbo... if i do, don't worry, you're on speed dial ;-)