Welcome to Dina-Hasida Mercy's Website!

 

 

My Philosophy

 

"I want to help Jews and non-Jews celebrate their loving unions. Our world and our people are so wounded. There are many hurts inflicted out of this woundedness. If we want to stop the cycle, at some point, I believe we have to make an active choice to do no more harm"

 

Marriage

  •  Why I Officiate at Intermarriages

     

    I want to help Jews and non-Jews celebrate their loving unions. Our world and our people are so wounded. There are many hurts inflicted out of this woundedness. If we want to stop the cycle, at some point, I believe we have to make an active choice to do no more harm. In 1968 I met my first Rabbi, who shouted at me: "What do we need you for, anyway?!" Now I know the answer to his rhetorical question: "Because there has to be a better way to treat the good-hearted people who want to join or support this tribe!"

     

    Falling in love with a Jewish person can be the first step in an affiliation with the Jewish people. I cannot help but think that part of the attraction is not just the person, but the beauty of the Jewish tradition as it comes through the beloved. Perhaps the traditional sequence of events doesn‘t always work, although even in the Bible we know that there were among the tribes, participating in the community, those who were not members. The people Israel were told to love them and treat them fairly!

     

    Usually, any couple I work with has already experienced some rejection from the congregational rabbis whom they‘ve asked to officiate at their wedding (Shades of being rejected three times). They are often close to walking away from Judaism entirely. Every couple is unique, but generally there is a strong desire for spirituality and tradition to be present at the wedding. A marriage commissioner/justice of the peace ceremony can‘t offer that.

     

    I commonly experience that both partners appreciate the opportunity for Jewish content in their wedding. The non-Jewish partners frequently express receptiveness to Judaism and to participating in the Jewish family they are marrying into, but without ultimatums. I would hope that is the natural direction for a person who has fallen in love with a Jew. Certainly I know many parents who are helping to raise Jewish children even though not ‘officially‘ Jewish themselves. What generosity!

     

    The Jewish Chaplaincy Society is authorized by the BC Government Provincial to solemnize marriages. No separate civil ceremony is required.

     

    I inform every intermarrying couple that their ceremony under the marriage canopy is not legal under Jewish law, but is valid as a spiritual commitment reflecting both partners. Some of the liturgy of the traditional Jewish wedding is not appropriate, but can be adapted so that it reflects the beliefs and intentions of the persons involved. I use a version of the wedding blessings that invoke ecumenical blessings for the couple. I suggest that family and friends come forward to offer the blessings so that the couple and family can experience that despite there being two families from two different traditions, they unite in their support of the loving couple.

     

    Any two people sharing their lives will experience difficult times. Certainly couples who intermarry will have differences to work out. Will there be Judaism in the home? Only time will tell. My goal is to give a couple a positive experience with Judaism in the hope that they will feel comfortable participating in Jewish life in the future. This is good for Jews, the people who love them and, I believe the Jewish people.

     

  • Wedding Ceremony

    This wedding ceremony is based on the traditional Jewish ceremony.

     

    This is an interfaith version. I work with each couple to tailor their ceremony to the sensibilities of all parties. Ditto for when co-officiating with other clergy.

     

    Prior to the ceremony under the khupa, the couple signs their ketuba with the Rabbi and their witnesses (bedeken is optional at this time - it is the lowering of the veil by the groom). All parties sign the register after the ceremony.

     

     Proceed to khupa. On a small table within reach of the khupa are two Kiddush cups, an opened bottle of kosher wine, and a glass to be broken at the end of the ceremony. The glass needs to be well-wrapped.

     

     Groom goes out from khupa and offers hand to bride. She takes it and they enter the khupa together. (circling is optional at this time)

     

    Rabbi sings: Baruch ha‘ba; mi adir (traditional Hebrew welcome to bride and groom) Hebrew followed by English. Then Rabbi welcomes the bride and groom and all who are present for this special occasion.

     

    First cup of wine, symbolizing bethrothal. A few words about the significance. Blessing over the fruit of the vine (Hebrew & English). Bride and groom drink.

     

    Rings (interfaith version): Repeated after Rabbi: Groom to bride: Harei at mekudeshet li b‘taba‘at zo. Ani l‘dodi v‘dodi li. I give you this ring so that all may know that you are sacred to me as my wife. I am by beloved‘s and my beloved is mine.

     

    Bride: Harei atah mekudash li b‘taba‘at zo. Ani l‘dodi v‘dodi li. I give you this ring so that all may know that you are sacred to me as my husband. I am by beloved‘s and my beloved is mine.

     

    Rabbi: Reading of Ketuba (marriage covenant document) In a combination of Hebrew and English. Couple may chose to repeat the ketuba vows at this time.

     

    Sheva Brachot-Seven Wedding blessings over the second cup of wine: Combination of Hebrew and English (A contemporary English version follows that many interfaith couples have used). Bride and groom drink.

     

    Rabbi explains significance(s), then groom breaks the wrapped glass. Mazal tov! Spontaneous singing and celebrative noise. The couple kiss or not, as they choose, and walk out to joyful music/singing.

     

    Yichud-couple have time alone.

     

  • An Interpretive Version of the Seven Blessings (Sheva Brachot)

    The middle 5 can be read by friends and relatives.

     

        1 ~ Rabbi (in Hebrew and English): Blessed are you, Oh God, your presence fills the universe: you have created the fruit of the vine.

     

        2 ~ May you be filled with awe as you find your place in the world. Blessed is the One who created human beings: all creation reflects your glory.

     

        3 ~ May your hearts be always filled with love. May you always sense the love of your family and friends whether they are close by or across the distances.

     

         4 ~ May you joy in one another overflow into the world which surrounds you. May you find wonder as you live, love and perpetuate life. May those in need find good friends in you.

     

         5 ~ May you rejoice and be glad:_________ and __________who have searched the world for one another. Blessed is the joy of our gathering here with you today.

     

        6 ~ May your children bless you and your friends support you. May all people live with you in peace.

     

         7 ~ Rabbi in (Hebrew and English): Blessed are you, Oh God, your presence fills the universe you have created joy and celebration, bride and groom, gladness and jubilation, pleasure, delight, love, unity, friendship and peace. Soon may we hear in the streets of the city and on the paths of the fields: the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of lovers from under their canopy and the voices of their friends and family from their feasts of celebration. Blessed are you, Oh God, who blesses_________ and _________ with their love for one another.

     

  • Ketuba (wedding document) (interfaith version)

     About Ketubahs: I can produce a simple one-page ketuba in English and Hebrew using this text. Many couples like to have an artistic ketuba prepared for them. There are many options on the internet. Allow plenty of time for your artistic ketuba to be prepared.

     

    By the grace of heaven, on the _______day of the week, the ________day of the month of____________, in the year ____________ since the creation of the world, corresponding to (the date) _____________ sacred vows of marriage where spoken in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, between the Bridegroom, Ken and the Bride, Barbie.

     

    Ken said to Barbie: “Be my wife. I promise to share with you in times of joy as in times of trouble; to talk and to listen; to honour and to appreciate you; to provide for you and to support you in trust and in love.”

     

    Barbie said to Ken: “Be my husband. I promise to share with you in times of joy as in times of trouble; to talk and to listen; to honour and to appreciate you; to provide for you and to support you in trust and in love.”

     

    Together Ken and Barbie said: “Let us create a home for ourselves and our children based on love and respect for all people. May it be a home filled with peace, happiness and love.”

     

    Signatures

     

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    Wedding Glossary (a good thing to give to your guests)

    The Ketubah: Just prior to the ceremony, the bride and groom, Rabbi Dina Hasida Mercy and 2 witnesses will sign the Ketubah, a modern (interfaith) version of the Jewish marriage contract, which has been used in Jewish marriage for over 2000 years.

     

    The Khupa (Wedding Canopy): The khupa is held by friends and relatives of the couple. This represents the community that will help the bride and groom establish a home. The wedding canopy symbolizes many things: it is a home, a garment, a bedcovering, and a reminder of the tents of nomadic ancestors. The khupa is understood as a sign of divine presence at the wedding and in the home being established under the canopy. Khupa means “that which covers or floats above,” and the space beneath it is said to be spiritually charged.

     

    The Ceremony: The wedding ceremony used to be two separate ceremonies. Erusin (bethrothal) and Nissuin (marriage) held up to one year apart. Since life can be precarious, the two ceremonies were combined long ago. The two cups of wine in today‘s ceremony remain as a reminder of the two separate ceremonies.

     

    Hakafot: In an update of an ancient custom, the bride will circle the groom three times upon arriving at the khupa. Circling is a symbolic means of protection and also of creating the space that we will share. In true egalitarian fashion, the groom will circle the bride three times. Then the couple will make one circle together.

     

    Kiddush (Sanctification): The blessing over the wine. Wine is a symbol of joy and also sanctifies the ceremony. This first cup symbolizes betrothal.

     

    Erusin (Engagement): The groom and the bride give each other a ring as a symbol of their love and commitment. The Hebrew phrase recited breaks down numerologically to the letters that spell “lev,” meaning “heart” in Hebrew. The groom thus gives his heart as he recites the words. And vice versa.

     

    Nissuin - Sheva Brachot (The Seven Blessings): The Seven Blessings are said over the second cup of wine. The version we use today is a contemporary interpretation of the traditional blessings. Friends and family will join us under the khupa to offer these blessings. Everyone is asked to respond “Amen!” to the blessings for the couple.

     

    Break the Glass and Celebrate: There are many interpretations for the custom of breaking the glass. For example, it is, like marriage, a transforming experience that leaves the individuals forever changed. The most common explanation is that even in times of joy, one should remember it is also our duty to repair what needs fixing in the world. It is a commandment to celebrate at a wedding.

     

    Yichud: After leaving the khupa, the bride and groom will spend a few moments alone. In ancient times, this was the first time a couple could spend time alone, and this was when the marriage was consummated. Times have changed and now the couple just takes some time alone to let the moment sink in...

     

    About Glossaries: Books have been written about each of these topics. You might find definitions that you would prefer over these. Also fine.

  •  The Marriage Canopy

     "May You Sit Under Your Vine And Fig Tree And Never Be Afraid"

     

    When friends gave me the gift of a khupa (marriage canopy) in honour of my rabbinic ordination, I was presented with a rare design opportunity. My first thought was that the theme couldn‘t be romantic love. While being ‘in love‘ is a thrill, relationships, especially marital grow and last through patience, attention and negotiation. Thus the theme for my khupa became ‘Tikkun‘ (repair or fixing of the world).

     

    It is said that when two people stand under the khupa and declare their commitment to one another, the world is returned to the way it was in the Garden of Eden: perfect. Why things don‘t stay perfect reflects another theme from Lurianic Kabbalah: the shattering of the vessel. When God was creating the world, God created a vessel with the intent of pouring all the Divine Goodness into it. The vessel was unable to hold all this Divine Goodness and, like a heated glass, shattered and the shards went everywhere. These shards of the vessel containing bits of the Divine Goodness settled down to become our world. Thus in our world there are sparks of Divine Goodness hidden in everything. It becomes our task to find those hidden sparks, clean off the worldly shmutz on them and offer them back to their creator. This is how the world gets repaired.

     

    Seeing the Divine in one‘s partner is marriage at its best. It is the task of each one to redeem the sparks in the other. Similarly, it is the task of each couple to find their work in the world: what tikkun is the world needing that only this couple can do?

     

    The centrepiece in the khupa is a lacis circle from my mother‘s collection. It shows two figures facing one another. The letters of the alef bet and many shards of light burst from it. The outer border represents our physical world. The four tree fruits in the corners represent God‘s caring for us in this world. We‘ve been given food to sustains us and enjoy as it sustains us. The grapes and the figs reoccur as biblical symbols of security. Olives are special as a symbol of peace and as the base of the sacred oil used in the Temple. Apples are the love food of the Song of Songs, wherein the beloved is compared to an apple tree among the trees of the wood.

     

    "May You Sit Under Your Vine And Fig Tree And Never Be Afraid" is a paraphrase of an expression which appears in the works of several of the Prophets. The closest version is found in the prophet Micah. This phrase expresses so many blessings for the couple under the khupa:

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    "May You Sit" (as opposed to standing, may you have leisure);

    "Vine And Fig Tree" (may you have sustenance and shelter);

    Your Vine and Fig Tree (may you be self-sufficient);

    "And Never Be Afraid" (may you feel safe and not be subject to real or imagined dangers).

     

     So may it be for all of us.

     

     

     

     

    The Gift of Khupa

     

     

     

     

     

  • Same-Sex Wedding Ceremony ~ Sheva Brachot ~ Ketuba

    Prior to the ceremony under the khupa, the couple signs their ketuba with the Rabbi and their witnesses. All parties sign the Marriage Register after the ceremony.

     

     On a small table within reach of the khupa are two Kiddush cups, an opened bottle of kosher wine, and a glass that will be broken during the ceremony. The glass needs to be well-wrapped.

    Proceed to khupa. This can be handled in several different ways: Each person can be walked to the khupa by (traditionally) parents or other family or friends. The two getting married would meet before entering the khupa, join hands and enter together. Or they could just walk to the khupa together (circling is optional at this time).

     

    Rabbi sings: Baruch ha‘ba; mi adir (traditional Hebrew blessing of welcome to the marrying couple). Instead of the traditional ‘bride and groom,‘ the Hebrew I use translates to ‘loving companions.‘ Hebrew followed by English. Then Rabbi welcomes all who are present for this special occasion.

     

    First cup of wine, symbolizing bethrothal (kiddushin): A few words about the significance. Blessing over the fruit of the vine (Hebrew & English). The couple drinks.

     

    Rings (erusin) (interfaith version): Repeated after Rabbi: Each to the other:

     

    To a male: Harei atah mekudash li b‘taba‘at zo. Ani l‘dodi v‘dodi li. I give you this ring so that all may know that you are sacred to me as my spouse. I am by beloved‘s and my beloved is mine.

     

    To a female: Harei at mekudeshet li b‘taba‘at zo. Ani l‘dodi v‘dodi li. I give you this ring so that all may know that you are sacred to me as my spouse. I am by beloved‘s and my beloved is mine.

     

    Rabbi: Reading of Ketuba (marriage covenant document): Can be in combination of Hebrew and English. Couple may chose to repeat the ketuba vows at this time.

     

    Second cup of wine (nissuin): Sheva Brachot-The Seven Wedding blessings. Combination of Hebrew and English (A contemporary English version follows that many interfaith couples have used). The couple drinks.

     

    Rabbi explains significance(s) of, then one or both break the wrapped glass. Mazal tov! Spontaneous singing and celebrative noise. The couple kiss or not, as they choose and walk out to joyful music/singing.

     

    Yichud-couple have time alone.

     

    This is a version of the Sheva Brachot for same-sex couples which combines variations on the traditional Jewish and other blessings. The middle 5 can be read by friends and relatives.

     

        1 ~ Rabbi (in Hebrew and English): Blessed are you, Oh God, your presence fills the universe: you have created the fruit of the vine.

     

        2 ~ May you be filled with awe as you find your place in the world. Blessed is the One who created human beings: all creation reflects your glory.

     

        3 ~ May your hearts be always filled with love. May you always sense the love of your family and friends whether they are close by or across the distances.

     

        4 ~ May your joy in one another overflow into the world which surrounds you. May you find wonder as you live, love and celebrate life. May those in need find good friends in you.

     

        5 ~ May you rejoice and be glad:_________ and __________who have searched the world for one another. Blessed is the joy of our gathering here with you today.

     

        6 ~ May your families bless you and your friends support you. May all people live with you in peace.

     

        7 ~ Rabbi in (Hebrew and English): Blessed are you, Oh God, your presence fills the universe you have created joy and celebration, loving companions, gladness and jubilation, pleasure, delight, love, unity, friendship and peace. Soon may we hear in the streets of the city and on the paths of the fields: the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of lovers from under their canopy and the voices of their friends and family from their feasts of celebration. Blessed are you, Oh God, who blesses_________ and _________ with their love for one another.

     

     

     

  • Ketuba Translation (same-sex couples; interfaith version):

      About Ketubas: I can produce a simple one-page ketuba in English and Hebrew using this text. Many couples like to have an artistic ketuba prepared for them. There are many options on the internet. Allow plenty of time for your artistic ketuba to be prepared.

     

     

    By the grace of heaven, on the _______day of the week, the ________day of the month of____________, in the year ____________ since the creation of the world, corresponding to (the date) _____________ sacred vows of marriage where spoken in Vancouver, British Columbia , Canada , between ,__________ and ____________.

     

     

    ______ said to _______: “Be (my spouse? My partner? Mine in marriage?). I promise to share with you in times of joy as in times of trouble; to talk and to listen; to honour and to appreciate you; to provide for you and to support you in trust and in love.”

     

     

    _____ said to ______: “Be (my spouse? My partner? Mine in marriage?). I promise to share with you in times of joy as in times of trouble; to talk and to listen; to honour and to appreciate you; to provide for you and to support you in trust and in love.”

     

     

    Together ___ and _____ said: “Let us create a home for ourselves (and our children) based on love and respect for all people. May it be a home filled with peace, happiness and love.”

     

     

    Signatures