Rabbi Michael Sternfield is a Reform Jewish rabbi based in Bradenton, Florida – a suburb of Sarasota/Tampa-St. Petersburg, He conducts wedding ceremonies for couples of Jewish faith and interfaith weddings. He is available for weddings in Florida, throughout the United States, and international destinations.
Over the years, Rabbi Sternfield has officiated at weddings combining Judaism and a wide array of other religions: Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Sikh, Islam, Mennonite and Quaker, to name some.
In addition, he has performed intercultural weddings with members of many ethnic groups: Irish, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Hispanic, Filipino, Polish, Russian, Italian, Indian and African-American. Whenever possible, he enjoys combining cultural components from both groups, often including materials from other languages.
Rabbi Sternfield always meets with each couple a number of times, sometimes by Skype or Facetime when necessary, to become well acquainted with them in order to customize their ceremony to their particular needs and wishes. Most important of all, he wants to get to know each couple well enough to add a personal touch to the wedding ceremony.
On Interfaith Weddings
Rabbi Sternfield feels that rabbis should be open to officiating at the weddings of interfaith and inter cultural weddings. He believes the future of American Judaism is completely dependent on our receptivity to interfaith marriages. Our sincere and enthusiastic embrace of these couples and their children will determine the future of Judaism in America.
The Challenge of Finding an Interfaith Wedding Rabbi
So, why is it so difficult to find rabbis who will officiate at your interfaith wedding?
Unfortunately, virtually all of the Jewish denominations continue to be resistant to marriages between Jews and non-Jews, whether based on Jewish law (halacha) or simply out of the concern for Jewish survival. The Orthodox and Conservative movements are totally opposed to interfaith marriage. As for the Reform and Reconstructionist, although an increasing number of their rabbis will officiate, most have restrictions that make their participation problematic. Most will not co-officiate with clergy of other faiths. Others will require extensive classes and preparation. Still others will do so only if the couples promise to raise their children Jewish. Then, there is the additional problem that most congregational rabbis are only permitted to officiate at ceremonies of their current members.
All together, there are too many obstacles for most couples.
There is also the problem of finding a “real rabbi.”
Anyone can get “ordained” on the Internet, mostly through the website of the Universal Life Church. Obviously those ordinations are not authentic but they are legal. There are similar websites that will “ordain” as rabbis people who have had no religious training, some of whom may not even be Jewish. These are people who have gone into the religion business.
Simply put, these people claim to be rabbis but are not rabbis at all. Any couple who want an authentic religious wedding ceremony should make sure that the person who will be officiating has been properly educated and ordained, which means that he/she must have attended a recognized seminary and ordained under the auspices of that seminary. It would be wise for all couples to check out the credentials of their prospective rabbi. Any authentic rabbi would be proud to tell you where he/she went to seminary and was ordained.
Rabbi Sternfield was ordained at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, America’s oldest rabbinical school.
Wedding Services & Fees:
Weddings in Florida: $800
Destination weddings: $1200 plus travel expenses and accommodations
If you are having difficulty locating a rabbi who will conduct interfaith weddings in your area, contact Rabbi Sternfield by phone at 312-320-5538 or by email here. He is also available for funerals, memorial services, baby namings and brises.