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Wedding during Simchat Torah

Rabbi David SperlingTammuz 15, 5779
282
Question
We are looking to get married on October 10, 2020, which we found out is the start of Simchat Torah? Would a reform rabbi be willing to marry us on this evening?
Answer
Shalom, First of all let me wish you (both) a big Mazel Tov! May you merit to build a house of blessing within the people of Israel. Planning a wedding is always tricky – finding a date that fits everyone is just so hard. Add to that the Jewish calendar with all those holidays and fasts, and it seems impossible! Still, it looks like you have quite some time to plan ahead, so I'm sure it will all work out. Yes, the date you mention – Oct 10, 2020 – is Saturday 22nd Tishray, which is a “double date”, being not only a Shabbat, but also the holiday of Shmini Atzeret, the 8th day of Succot. That night (Saturday evening) , after dark begins the festival of Simchat Torah (which lasts until Sunday night after dark). [All this is true outside of the land of Israel – here in Israel we celebrate Shmini Atzeret (the 8th day of Succot) together with Simchat Torah, both on the Friday night- Saturday]. So, that means (if you live outside Israel), no chance for a wedding from Friday night (Oct 9th), until Sunday night (11th) after dark. (… sorry). As to whether a Reform rabbi would be willing to marry you on those days – I really can't answer for them. Our website, while happily helping all types of Jews, is run according to traditional Orthodox rulings. So, you'll really have to ask a Reform Rabbi that question. My guess is that they too will be busy in their synagogue dancing with the Torah celebrating the Festival, and unavailable to perform a wedding. In any event, according to traditional Jewish law (Orthodox) one is not allowed to get married on Shabbat or a Festival. May I make a suggestion? Firstly, let me personally invite you to a shule on Simchat Torah – any shule! I can think of no better way to get into the spirit of a wedding than dancing in a shule on Simchat Torah – the day that celebrates our “marriage” to the Torah. Believe me, you'll be more than welcome in any shule. As I am personally familiar with Orthodox shules I can guarantee that if you show up and let people know you're about to get married, you'll be danced off your feet! Next, why not try to move the date a few days latter. I'm sure you can find a Rabbi who'll help you, and then you can be blessed to celebrate your wedding in a tradition ceremony that will establish your new home on the basis of generations of Am Yisrael, who are waiting for you two to add your special qualities to our people in your new house together. Again – Mazel Tov. Please feel free to write again if we can be of any further help.
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