Barbara's Ceremonial Background
I grew up in a Jewish, secular family. When I became engaged to a man from a Methodist family, finding someone to marry us wasn’t easy. We desired a humanistic service that embraced the cultural elements of Judaism. We wanted a ceremony that didn’t compromise our integrity. Fortunately, we found a ceremonial leader affiliated with a national organization, the Society for Humanistic Judaism. Together we created a service that was just what we wanted.
Time passed and soon we wanted a formal way of welcoming our daughters into our family and world. Yet we didn’t belong to any sort of congregation and, again, wanted a ceremony that was authentically our own. I ended up creating the service myself and finding a rabbi willing to officiate in our home.
About this time, I realized the importance of being part of a like-minded community. In 1999 I was the initial driving force in establishing an Ithaca-based affiliate of the Society for Humanistic Judaism: Kol Haverim: The Finger Lakes Community for Humanistic Judaism. I chaired the community for four years and helped plan a variety of celebrations, including secular naming ceremonies and B’nai Mitzvahs, blending traditional ritual with humanistic interpretation. Soon I found myself in the delightful position of officiating at weddings for couples both in and out of the community.
Since then - and almost 30 years into my own still-happy marriage - I have officiated at over 80 wedding ceremonies, from private and intimate, to gatherings with over 200 guests. Although I come from a Jewish background, most of the couples with whom I work are not Jewish. My clientele is wonderfully diverse and each ceremony is unique, yet every one reflects the values of Humanism: respect, dignity, and equality.
I have met many non-theistic individuals, couples and families who have sought honest and creative ways to bring meaning to their lives. And I have met couples who struggled to find someone to marry them. Either they were of mixed faith, different cultures, the same gender, or not “religious." It is for all of these reasons that I am committed to helping people achieve their humanistic ceremonial needs, whatever they may be.
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