The wedding ceremonies offered by Temple Israel uphold the principle of gender equality which is the hallmark of the Progressive Movement. While the ceremony follows the traditional format of a Jewish wedding, the ketubah expresses the ideals of equality between both parties and does not include the traditional Aramaic legal document which discloses the amount of the dowry brought to the marriage by the bride and the payment which will be made to the bride in the advent of a divorce.
Our ketubot are worded in Hebrew and English and articulate the responsibilities of marriage. Following the principle of egalitarianism the ketubah is signed by both parties and women are eligible to sign as witnesses. A further illustration of our commitment to equality of all genders is our insistence on a double ring ceremony during which the couple place rings on each other’s fingers and recite the declaration of intent that they are consecrated to each other by the Law of Moses and Israel.
There is also room for creativity and the ceremony can be tailor-made to the needs and requirements of the couple. Again in the interests of inclusivity and following the policy of the South African Progressive Jewish Movement the rabbis of Temple Israel are of the opinion that same-sex couples are afforded the opportunity to celebrate their commitment to each other among family and friends and our rabbis therefore officiate at same-sex weddings.
We do not perform interfaith weddings. Both parties have to be Jewish (whether born Jewish mother or converted to Judaism) in order for one of our rabbis to officiate at a wedding. Proof of Jewish status (parents’ ketubah or conversion certificate) is required before a wedding ceremony can be arranged. In the case of conversion the wedding date cannot be booked until the Jew-by-Choice has completed their conversion by appearing before the Beit Din.
Our rabbis are also marriage officers appointed by the Minister of Home Affairs and therefore have the authority to perform civil marriages/ unions according to the Laws of the Republic of South Africa. In order for a marriage to be recognised by the secular authorities this civil ceremony needs to be performed before or after the Jewish ceremony.