Frequently Asked Questions

Because Robert officiates at weddings more often than other celebrations of the Jewish Life Cycle, the Frequently Asked Questions, which appear below, are wedding-related.

What is the process of hiring Robert to serve as our rabbi?
The process consists of three simple steps: one, call to see if he is available; two, set up a time to meet so you can determine whether the three of you fit together, energetically; and three, complete the short contract that he will provide and include a deposit, which is half of the agreed-upon fee or honorarium.

Does Robert travel outside of New York City?
Yes. Robert is a "destination rabbi;" he even travels outside of the U.S. Whenever he is traveling outside of the five boroughs of New York City, you are responsible for the cost of his transportation and lodging.

What is Robert's approach to working with a couple?
Robert does not impose anything on a couple. In his view, he works for you! The day as well as the wedding ceremony are yours, entirely yours!

Will Robert marry an interfaith couple?
Yes. Robert likes to point out to an interfaith couple and their families that they are not alone; 52% of American Jews marry non-Jews.

Will Robert marry a couple if neither of them are Jewish?
Yes. In Robert's view, the rabbinate is vehicle for spiritual service. It is his privilege to create and preside at ritual celebrations for people of any faith tradition.

Does Robert co-officiate with clergy from other faith traditions?
Yes. Robert ensures that clergy from other faith traditions with whom he officiates have input into and play a meaningful role in a couple's wedding ceremony.

Does Robert co-officiate at wedding ceremonies if they are held at houses of worship, such as churches?
Yes. Some of the most beautiful and memorable wedding ceremonies at which he has co-officiated have taken place in houses of worship such as churches.

What is Robert's approach to creating a wedding ceremony?
Once Robert gets a sense of what kind of wedding ceremony you would like, he will create the first draft, which he will then email to you. Changes are made to this living document until the two of you sign off on the final draft. Though Robert sticks to this version during the wedding ceremony, he does not read it in a robotic manner; as an accomplished public speaker, he carries out his role with ease, sincerity, and style.

How long is a typical wedding ceremony?
A wedding ceremony ranges from 30 to 40 minutes in length, even if it includes music.

What does Robert wear at a Jewish wedding ceremony?
He wears an off-white robe and tallit (prayer shawl) or an off-white suit and tallit. He generally wears a kippah / yarmulke (head covering), only if one or both of those get married do so, which is not necessary.

Does a wedding ceremony have to include music?
No. Most wedding ceremonies, however, include music at the beginning for the processional, at the middle for contemplation / reflection, and at the end for the recessional.

Can people other than clergy participate in a wedding ceremony?
Yes. Family members and / or friends can participate. Oftentimes, they read passages from Scripture or other literary works.

Will Robert integrate into the wedding ceremony elements from the non-Jewish partner's faith tradition?
Yes. If asked, Robert will ensure that elements of the non-Jewish partner's faith tradition are seamlessly woven into the wedding ceremony.

If Robert presides or co-officiates at the wedding ceremony of an interfaith couple, is that wedding ceremony considered to be interfaith or Jewish?
From Robert's perspective, which is shared by many rabbis, a wedding ceremony can be considered Jewish if (1) the core or key elements of a Jewish wedding ceremony are included, particularly the blessings, (2) a rabbi facilitates the vows and exchange of the ring(s), and (3) a rabbi signs the marriage license.

What are the core or key elements of a Jewish wedding ceremony?
The key elements include the betrothal blessings (after which the groom and bride share wine), the bestowal of the ring(s), the reading of the Ketubah, the marriage blessings known as the Sheva Brachot / Seven Blessings (after which the groom and bride share wine), and the breaking of the glass.

What Jewish items are needed for a wedding ceremony?
These items are needed: a cup or glass, which does not have to be a Kiddush cup or even ornamental; wine, preferably white, which does not have to be kashrut / kosher; and an ordinary light-weight glass wrapped in a cloth, such as a napkin. Whereas a Jewish groom often wears a kippah / yarmulke (head covering) and tallit (prayer shawl), neither is required to be worn by either person.

Does Robert provide a Ketubah?
No. You can purchase a Ketubah online or at a Judaica shop. When choosing the text of your Ketubah, ensure that it speaks to the both of you in a meaningful and real way. Outside of traditional circles, a Ketubah is not required for a Jewish wedding ceremony.

Does Robert provide a Chuppa?
No. Typically, the florist or wedding-ceremony venue provides the Chuppa. A tallit (prayer shawl), lifted above the heads of a couple by four Chuppa Bearers, can also serve as a Chuppa. Robert has used his own tallit for this purpose, which has worked beautifully and effectively. Outside of traditional circles, a Chuppa is not required for a Jewish wedding ceremony.

Can we incorporate into our wedding ceremony non-religious material (such as literature or music) or material from another faith tradition?
Yes. Choose whatever material speaks to you and increases your joy and that of your guests. In Judaism, the line between sacred and secular and between Jewish and non-Jewish is and always has been rather fluid or porous, which helps to explain the incredible diversity and richness of Jewish faith and practice.

Does our wedding ceremony have to include Hebrew?
No. If, however, you would like include Hebrew elements, such as blessings, into your wedding ceremony, Robert will ensure that a spoken English translation immediately follows.

What is Robert's honorarium (fee)?
Robert typically receives an honorarium of $1,250, middle-of-the-road for rabbis in the New York City area. His honorarium is negotiable and discussed during the initial telephone consultation.

Where is Robert's office?
983 Park Avenue (East 83rd Street and Park Avenue) New York, NY 10028

Enter on East 83rd Street, second awning from the corner, and look for his initials, RST, next to the doorbell.

Directions:
4, 5, or 6 Trains to 86th Street

If you would like to explore working with Robert, please feel free to call him at
212-961-1745.

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