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What is the role and function of the officiating celebrant in a Jewish wedding?

What is the role and function of the officiating celebrant in a Jewish wedding?

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The officiating rabbi at a wedding, known in Hebrew as the mesader kiddushin, has two primary functions:

The first and primary function of the rabbi is to ensure that the entire wedding is properly conducted according to Jewish law and custom. He makes sure that all the "paperwork," i.e. the ketubah (marriage contract), is in order; that the marriage witnesses meet all halachic criteria; and that all other parts of the ceremony conform to halachic standards.

Secondly, there is a blessing that is technically the groom's responsibility to recite before placing the wedding ring on the bride's finger. Since the groom will likely be too nervous at this juncture to properly pronounce the blessing, the rabbi recites it in his stead.

Please visit our Wedding & Marriage Section for more information on Jewish weddings.

I hope that I've been helpful today. Please feel free to reply.

Yours truly,

Rabbi Menachem Posner

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org. He lives with his family in Montreal, QC.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (3)
July 29, 2009
That's so great! I love that the rabbi pronounces the blessing for the groom, since he'd "likely be too nervous." I love Judaism. Can I get married right now?
Taylor
CA
July 28, 2009
To annonymous from Columbus: Whether the Rabbi is authorized civilly to perform the marriage ceremony or not doesn't affect his religious role. Legallly (at least in NY), you can do separate religious and civil ceremonies. Most people simply find it convenient to do both together at once and prefer the Rabbi be legally authorized to fill out the appropriate forms.
rochel
Brooklyn, NY
July 28, 2009
Doesn't the rabbi also serve a civil function? Most Western countries allow members of the clergy to certify the civil legality of a marriage on behalf of the state. The rabbi would have to perform that function under secular law for the couple to be legally married in their jurisdiction, right?
Anonymous
Columbus, WI
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