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 Home > Jewish Wedding Guide > Reform > Second Marriages

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Jewish Wedding: A Second Time Around
A Reform Perspective by Rivka C. Berman

 • 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
Tradition kept children from attending a parent’s remarriage ceremony. Deference to the other parent’s 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. 

Divorcees
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."

Still many 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 Orthodox community.

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.



 

READ MORE:
•
Dating Jewish
• The Dowry (Nedunia)
• Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make me a Match!
•
Forbidden Marriages
• Engagement: Announcement and more
•
Marriage: A Jewish Perspective
•
Setting a Date for the Celebration of a Jewish Wedding
•
Double Wedding, Double the Fun?
• Jewish Wedding A Second Time Around
•
Mikvah:The Ritual Bath
•
Aufruf – A Torah Honor for the Groom
• Wedding Day Customs
• The Ketubah: The Jewish Marriage Contract
• The Reform Ketubah Text and Translation

• Ketubah Designs and Designation
• The Bedeking Ceremony: Veiling of the Bride
• The Chuppah - the Wedding Canopy
• Chuppah: Make Your Own Chuppah
• The Processional and the Chuppah Ceremony
• Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part I: The "Erusin" - the Engagement

• Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part II: The Ring and Its Significance
• Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part III: The Ketubah Reading
• Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part IV: Nesuin, the Marriage Ceremony
• Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part V: Breaking the Glass

• Yichud: Bride and Groom Retreat from Crowd for Alone-Time
• Jewish Wedding Reception Customs and Traditions

• Shana Rishona: The First Year of Marriage
• Practical Tips: List of things to bring to your wedding




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