What kind of wedding do we want? Is a Ketubah the only option?
There are two possible ways of getting married under Jewish law. The traditional one is using a ketubah. It is also possible to get married under a partnership agreement, which some couples find accords more with their values.
If you are considering getting married at Kol Nefesh, the first step is to speak with our Rabbi. Rabbi Joel Levy will ask you to attend a series of sessions looking at marriage, both as a couple and individually. This is to help you prepare for your wedding and make it a unique, Jewish and meaningful experience.
The legal basis for a traditional Jewish wedding comprises Kiddushin and Ketubah. If you wish to follow this traditional path, Rabbi Joel with work with you to write a specific Ketubah that will reflect your values and aspirations as a couple.
Brit Ahuvim – A Lovers’ Covenant
The Brit Ahuvim is a contract founded in the area of halacha that deals with partnership law, rather than Kiddushin, which is found within the area of Jewish property law. Under the Brit Ahuvim, no one party acquires the other. This ceremony is based on the idea of two free-thinking individuals coming together to form an equal partnership reflecting the values of the 21st century.
In a typical Brit Ahuvim, the first part describes the nature of the marital covenant and places it within the Jewish tradition as recorded in the Talmud and the Tanach. The second part reflects the couple’s personal commitments to each other. As such this is a very individual document tailored to each couple’s needs. The Brit Ahuvim is suitable for same-sex and mixed-sex couples.
More information on Brit Ahuvim can be found in the book Engendering Judaism (Beacon Press), by the renowned Jewish feminist theologian Rachel Adler.
Planning the ceremony
Planning the ceremony is where we can help you the most. As well as considering the Ketubah/Brit Ahuvim, Rabbi Joel will help you to create a unique ceremony, should you so desire. You will, of course, have Rabbi Joel to perform the ceremony. We also have our very own chazan, Jaclyn (Jacky) Chernett, who can work with you on the music for the ceremony should you want to have a chazan (there is an additional charge if you want Chazan Jacky to officiate, as she is a member of the synagogue rather than an employee). She can also put you in touch with a wonderful harpist should you so wish.
We are glad to welcome non-Jewish family, friends and guests to our weddings. The non-Jewish parents of a bride or groom who has converted to Judaism are welcomed and encouraged to stand at the Chuppah, the marriage canopy, just as Jewish parents do. It is our aim for our communities to be open, warm and sensitive to everyone who attends. More information can be found here.
To get married in the UK you each need to register your marriage at the registry office in the borough where you each live, up to a year and not less than six weeks before you marry. This enables us to marry you under the shul’s auspices. The registry office will ask you where you are marrying and you need to be able to give them the address of the venue and the name of the person who will be officiating. The certificate will then be sent or given to you to give to the marriage secretary of the shul.
Our marriage secretaries can advise on the legal aspects of the marriage. One of them will contact you six weeks before your wedding to take care of the certificate and talk through any last-minute concerns. This is provided with no fee, but we do ask you to consider making a donation to the Rabbi’s discretionary fund. A typical donation is a sum between £300 and £500.
KNM does not have its own venue, which leaves you free to choose your own. If you have not decided where to have your marriage we would suggest that you think about New London Synagogue if you want a traditional venue. However, if you would like to get married at the same venue as your party, you need to ensure that it is registered to conduct marriages under its auspices.
We have a beautiful chuppah for hire. Modern and refreshing, the chuppah is hand-painted silk in blues and purples on white. It sits on a 145cm by 145cm frame that is approximately 2m high. The frame is easy-to-assemble aluminium, which means it is both lightweight and strong. The frame is secured on four feet and is very stable. At the top of each corner post is a hook for hanging flowers. It comes supplied with gauze to wrap the posts and ribbons to decorate them. Besides the photo at the top of this page, you'll find more photos of the chuppah in our wedding brochure.
The couple is responsible for pick-up and return of the chuppah from and to London NW1 by arrangement. There is a demonstration of how to set it up at pick-up.
In terms of payments, we ask for three separate cheques:
• £20 rental
• £130 donation to the shul (which can be gift-aided)
• £700 refundable deposit, which we would only cash if the chuppah is damaged or not returned.
Signing the Ketubah/Brit Ahuvim
Both documents are prepared in advance and signed by the couple and their witnesses prior to the wedding ceremony. You can choose any adult as your witness provided they are halachically Jewish. They can be any nationality.
Signing the civil documents
After the marriage ceremony you need to sign the marriage registers and your civil marriage certificate. Make sure that there is a quiet place for this set aside at your venue, with table and chairs. There are four documents for each person to sign.
You need two witnesses who are over 16, speak English and understand the nature of the ceremony. They do not have to be the same people as those who signed the Ketubah/Brit Ahuvim.
It is traditional to have an auf-ruf on the Shabbat before the wedding. This is where you get called up to the Torah.
At Kol Nefesh our tradition is to do this as a couple. You are welcome to provide a kiddush for your friends, family and the community.
You must both be members of Kol Nefesh Masorti. We ask that you join for a minimum of a year. The rates for an annual subscription per person depend on age. Please contact us for the current rates.
Rabbi Joel’s schedule
Rabbi Joel lives in Israel and visits Kol Nefesh on average once a month. We will try to coordinate your wedding ceremony and Rabbi Joel’s schedule, and then there will be no extra charges.
For more information or to book a wedding
The information on this page is also included in our wedding brochure, which, as noted above, also features additional photos of our hand-painted chuppah.
We hope that after you have read this leaflet, you will want to discuss getting married at Kol Nefesh. Please contact our synagogue administrator, Elaine White, on firstname.lastname@example.org, and she can put you in contact with Rabbi Joel. You can also reach Rabbi Joel directly on email@example.com.
GETTING MARRIED AT KOL NEFESH MASORTI SYNAGOGUE
Your wedding should be a unique event which reflects your values and aspirations as a couple. Kol Nefesh can offer you something very precious – an opportunity to create your ceremony together with our Rabbi and Chazan. We are proud to offer ceremonies appropriate for both mixed-sex and same-sex couples.