Jewish Wedding: A
Second Time Around
Perspective by Rivka
Children Attending Parent's Weddings
Widow and Widowers
Divorcees: Laws and Traditions
Ceremonies for a second marriage (third, or fourth etc.) are identical to first marriages, in its ritualistic sense. Many, however, curtail the size of reception, and their wedding
attire usually conforms with the fashions and etiquette of the time.
Children Attending Parent's Weddings
children from attending a parents remarriage ceremony. Deference to the
other parents honor is the reason, however, nowadays it is generally
thought that participation of parents' second marriage is more
beneficial emotionally for a child. Children who attend the
marriage of their parent cab be part of the wedding party, and even may
be chosen to assist in holding the chuppah aloft.
Widows and Widowers
Jewish law requires widow's and widowers to wait 30 days of mourning after the
death of a spouse before remarrying.
Traditional Jewish law allows man or woman may remarry as soon as they have obtained a Jewish divorce or get,
however, reform Judaism recognizes civil divorce as sufficient. In
general, Reform rabbis do not require a Get when a divorce is
granted by civil decree. The Reform Movement holds this position, in
part, because of the burden that traditional Jewish law places on women
whose divorcing husbands refuse to deliver a get. In such cases, the
woman becomes an "agunah," a so-called "chained woman," who is
divorced from her husband by civil law, yet forbidden to re-marry by
Jewish law. By not requiring a Get when a marriage has been
dissolved by civil authority, the Reform Movement eliminates the problem
of the "agunah."
Reform rabbis recommend obtaining a Jewish Divorce, a Get,
especially if there is a possibility or intent on having more children.
when a Jew divorces without a Get, he or she is still married
according to Orthodox law. Any child born from a later marriage,
therefore, would be regarded as a "mamzer" (illegitimate) in the
The whole concept of "mamzer" is rejected by Reform Judaism,
however, since a mamzer may not marry a Jew in the framework of Orthodox
Judaism and in the State of Israel, and since the status of a "mamzer"
is passed down to children, grandchildren and all later generations, it
is recommended to obtain a Get just so your decision may not
impact your future generation adversely.
You have little
control over the Jewish choices of your children, grandchildren and the
generations that come after, and by choosing to ignore the Get
requirement of Orthodox Judaism (and Conservative). Remember: A
child of a union between husband and wife who have been previously
married to other Jewish partners and did not obtain a Jewish divorce,
would be considered a "mamzer" by Orthodox and Conservative Jews,
a stigma that may have far-reaching and painful results in the distant
future. Acquiring a get is a simple step that could prevent such a
situation and help to maintain unity within the Jewish community.
By the way, this issue is different from the problem of intermarriage
and patrilineal descent. When Reform Judaism says that the child of a
Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother can be Jewish without conversion,
it creates a problem for Orthodox and Conservative Jews. However, that
is a problem that has a solution -- conversion. There is, however, no
such solution for a "mamzer." Traditional Jewish law provides no
way to "convert" from illegitimate to legitimate. The "mamzer"
and all his or her descendants would be forever barred from marrying
under Orthodox standards.
Fortunately, acquiring a get is not difficult. The organization, Kayama,
helps to arrange for Gittin (plural of Get) for people in
your situation. You can check their website at
http://www.kayama.org. If you and
your fiancι were previously married, and are in any way contemplating
having children, it is recommended that you discuss the issue of a
Jewish Divorce, a Get with your rabbi.