Category — Synagogue / Temple

Unexpected Reaction

Posted by Mara O.

We joined our synagogue months ago, but we hadn’t yet attended services. We seemed to come up with excuse after excuse, and always had conflicting plans.

Finally, last Friday night my fiancé Adam and I went to services at our new synagogue so that we could meet and experience the rabbi that will be marrying us. The rabbi was great, and we got along well, and the service was quite nostalgic for me. I grew up going to similar types of services, and the familiar prayers and songs brought part of me back to being a 12-year-old at my friends’ Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

Towards the end of the service, though, something unexpected happened. As is the case in most (if not all) services, towards the end of the service, all those in mourning were asked to rise to say Kaddish. When the words started, it hit me. I hadn’t been to services since my grandma passed away… and we said that prayer every day for a week. The tears started, and didn’t stop until well after the last word. It’s so hard for me that my grandma won’t physically be at our wedding… but I know she’ll definitely be there in many other ways.

I pulled myself together, and we met with the rabbi to confirm that he had our wedding on the calendar. Indeed he did, and ours is the first his first wedding he is officiating as the new rabbi of our synagogue! We’ll have a few meetings with him in October, and get to know each other more before our wedding on November 28th.

August 10, 2009   No Comments

Down to the Wire!

Posted by Maya E.

After finding my dress last week in Chicago, my fiancé Loren and I drove back St. Louis so that I could clean out my old studio. Three days later, my parents and I flew from Chicago to Boston to attend my brother’s graduation from Harvard.  Two days after that I presented at a conference in Philly on transforming the Jewish community.  I then returned to Chicago on Monday for my bachelorette party that evening.  Tuesday morning Loren and I met with my rabbi Brant Rosen at our beautiful new GREEN Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation synagogue (JRC).

Working in my studio at Washington University in St. Louis

My girlfriends and me at my bachelorette party at Cafe Iberico

Loren and me at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation

As for the ceremony, we determined that the sheva brachos will be chanted in both Hebrew and in Spanish, that Loren and I will be circling each other seven times, and that the ketubah (which the two of us are designing) will only be in Hebrew.


The inside of our kippot

In light of Loren’s wedding footwear, the silliest addition to the service will be the boot that Loren’s best man will hand him to put on before breaking the glass!


Wednesday before leaving for St. Louis, I went to find some flowers.  I will be making my own arrangements the night before the wedding.  I know it is crazy, but I am so picky and the flowers and the dress are the only two things that I REALLY care about, so I will be doing it myself.


Purple Irises, Calla Lilies, Yellow Tulips, and Red Gerber Daisies

June 11, 2009   6 Comments


Posted by DJ

“Did you know that most temples are built with move-able walls so that on the one day of the year when everyone comes to repent they can actually make the room big enough to hold everyone?”
–Andrew Largeman (played by Zach Braff), Garden State


This fact is turning out to be pretty important in considering our ceremony.  The sanctuary in our temple is only about a year old, as the original sanctuary before that was destroyed by Hurricane Rita.  After enough money was finally raised, the new, beautiful, and modern sanctuary was built in its place.

Here’s the problem though–the seats are benches as opposed to chairs, and everyone I ask has a different idea of how many people the sanctuary can actually seat.  I was originally told 250, which was fine since we were planning to invite about that many people.  Then after speaking with the rabbi, the synagogue’s administrative assistant revised that number to 180 seats at the absolute most.  I knew we would get a few “no” replies to our wedding, but not that many! I mentioned this to my brother who is the president of the Men’s Club, and he estimated the number of seats to be closer to 120.  I even went so far as to send a Facebook message to  the architect of the sanctuary, who gave me 190 as his best guess.  Well, it’s official: no one knows!  Also official: no matter if the number is 120, 180 or 190, we will still have more guests than the sanctuary will seat.

Thankfully the synagogue does have a move-able wall, as described in the movie Garden State.   So I just want to thank those Jews throughout history who only attend synagogue once a year, thus necessitating the move-able wall!  It will help me out greatly in my wedding planning, even if we do end up with guests seated in giant orange plastic chairs at the back of the sanctuary.

June 4, 2009   No Comments

We’re Joining Up!

Posted by Mara O.


One of the only sources of stress in our otherwise stress-free wedding planning process has been the question of “who is going to marry us?” Originally, my thought was “I’ll call the rabbi who has been a part of every important life cycle event in my family since I was six years old––he’ll marry us, no doubt!” The Rabbi performed my sister’s naming, my consecration, my sister’s Bat Mitzvah, and my grandmother’s funeral. When I called though, he told me he was retiring and moving across the country. Oy.

I asked everyone I knew if they knew of rabbi that could marry us. Their reply? “Well, only if you join our synagogue.” My fiancé and I weren’t about to join a synagogue an hour away and pay $3,000 a year in dues just to be assured a Rabbi for our wedding though.

I called one rabbi, completely desperate and crying because every independent rabbi we found was charging upwards of $1,200 for a 25 minute ceremony in addition to us having to pay their per-plate charge for the reception! The rabbi gave me a couple of other names and numbers to call. After I hung up the phone, my fiancé suggested that we contact the temple just up the road from us before calling the other rabbis on the list.

Fast forward a couple weeks. I called my fiancé after work like I always do, and he didn’t answer his phone. That usually means one of two things: he’s on the phone with his mom, or his phone is on vibrate and he doesn’t hear it ring. He called me back a few minutes later though and said “GUESS WHAT?!”

Apparently, he’d been playing phone tag with the new rabbi from the synagogue up the street. The old rabbi is taking a new position elsewhere, and this new rabbi is taking over in July–so we will, as of right now, be his very first wedding! We really liked the synagogue to boot, and decided to join after visiting and touring! It was right under our noses the entire time.

I’m quite excited, as joining a synagogue somehow seems more “grown up” than getting engaged even did! Maybe it had something to do with wandering around the synagogue and looking at the classrooms, imagining that some day our children will one day study there, or maybe it was the realization that we are indeed getting married!

May 28, 2009   1 Comment