Author Topic: email invites, Sheva Brachot question and going forward (long)  (Read 2428 times)

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mindicherry

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email invites, Sheva Brachot question and going forward (long)
« on: November 06, 2012, 01:16:43 AM »
So about 5 months ago, my agnostic brother married an Orthodox Jew in a private ceremony to which I wasn't invited (don't get me started - because I am trying to be "over it").  My family is really a hodge-podge of religions, as we were encouraged by my parents to "find what is right for us". 

The religion thing REALLY isn't an issue for us (although when we heard "Orthodox Jew", we all kinda got a little nervous about Easter...just like you aren't sure about inviting a Mormon to a kegger, you don't know what to think when an OJ is coming to your "ham & heavy cream extravaganza")...we made sure that we made "as kosher as we could" dishes for her (my sister just DOESN'T have separate cooking utensils, but we made Kosher dishes for her at Easter and provided paper plates if she wanted them. Considering she chose to eat off regular china and a few other clues, there is a bunch of speculation that she is looking at marrying my brother as an "excuse" to move from Orthodox to Conservative or even Reform...at least in the eyes of her family).

She is sweet, a great Aunt (kids are NOT in their future), sarcastic, biting (just like me) and completely in love with my brother.  She is everything I could have hoped for in a SIL.

Because her family is Orthodox and my only exposure to Judaism has been through my mom converting to Reform Judaism and having exposure to only the Reform way, I don't know what to think about an invite from her stepmom to a Sheva Brachot.  When I got the "Save the Date" from my brother, I immediately called him and he explained that their tradition is a series of 7 "parties" to introduce the married couple to different social groups.  That's fine.  I actually think that is an AWESOME thing that builds community.  So here are a few questions:

As the sister of the groom, I feel obligated (and not in a bad way) to attend as many of these as I can.  Is a gift expected at each one of these?  I would have probably given my brother an $x gift at his wedding (if he had had the traditional one).  I would hate to think I needed to give him an $x/7 gift at each one...because I would rather give them one GREAT gift than 7 "lesser" ones.

I know that there are many Orthodox and Conservative Jews in this forum.  How many of these am I expected to attend as the sister of the groom?  Obviously, I will attend as many as possible, but my husband is a retail manager and we are heading in to Christmas Season (ironic - no?).  If I can attend 4 of the 7, but the other 3, because of Hubs schedule, would require me to get a babysitter...am I in the "clear" for not attending all of them?

Finally - all these invites that I am getting seem to be some generic invite that they created in Word, then pasted in to an email sent ONLY to my personal email (my brother learned LONG ago that my husband only checks his email about every 3 weeks, so I am sure mine is the only email that they have).  The problem is, there is no mention in the email of "Your family is invited, etc", so I am not clear if kids are invited (I am assuming my husband is invited).  I sent the following email to the stepmother of the "bride" (in quotes since they have been married since June...although in fairness, she did send my sister and I an additional email explaining the whole tradition of the 7 blessings):

Quote
HI XXXXl!

Thanks so much for inviting us and I already put it on my calendar after I got a “Save the Date” from XXX & XXX (and XXX did explain to me this whole “7 events/blessings” thing.  It’s completely foreign to me, but it sounds like a wonderful tradition).

Just one quick question – is it ok if I bring my 3 children (they are ages 6, 9 & 11)?  If not, that is perfectly fine and I will try to arrange childcare (or XXX will stay home and I will come).  If children are welcome, please let me know!

Thanks!

Mindi
I guess I am looking to get some guidance through the Sheva Brachot process.  With my brother being a complete agnostic (and we joke about him marrying an Orthodox Jew 6 months after he completed a "30 Days Of Pork" cooking challenge...it's complicated), but with her seeming to be completely cool and willing to fit herself in to our "family culture", I just want to make sure that I do everything I can to respect her culture/traditions/upbringing. 

If it matters, I am seriously considering being rebaptized in my own church (I was baptized in a different denomination over 20 years ago) and I am especially attuned to possible issues that it can create at family dinners - might just be my over-paranoia!

Edited for formatting

 
« Last Edit: November 06, 2012, 01:24:07 AM by mindicherry »

cicero

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Re: email invites, Sheva Brachot question and going forward (long)
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2012, 02:50:30 AM »
Mazel Tov!

Sheva Brachot is a beautiful tradition -it's rooted in biblical sources, apparently and  it's not so much about introducing the couple to society (although that's what happens in reality) but I won't bore you with the details. and there aren't actually seven events because the first one takes place at the wedding and one or two take place on the shabbat after the wedding, so that leaves the couple with 4-5 additional ones (and most Jewish couples, unless they are really orthodox, will skip a few...).

As far as i can remember, i've never been invited to more than one per couple. iOW - if my sister got married, i would be invited to one of the events, not all of them. and as far as i recall, the couple doesn't get gifts at the party.

An interesting custom relating to sheva brachot is the invitation of a "new face" - someone who hasn't been at the wedding.

(question - if you don't mind answering: is your brother jewish? I was raised as - and lived as - an orthodox jew until about 10 years ago. i can't imagine anyone in orthodox circles marrying a non-jewish person and continuing to keep a jewish life. it's just *not done* - unless your brother converted. sorry for the nosy question!)

have fun!

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mindicherry

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Re: email invites, Sheva Brachot question and going forward (long)
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2012, 11:10:56 AM »
Mazel Tov!

Sheva Brachot is a beautiful tradition -it's rooted in biblical sources, apparently and  it's not so much about introducing the couple to society (although that's what happens in reality) but I won't bore you with the details. and there aren't actually seven events because the first one takes place at the wedding and one or two take place on the shabbat after the wedding, so that leaves the couple with 4-5 additional ones (and most Jewish couples, unless they are really orthodox, will skip a few...).

As far as i can remember, i've never been invited to more than one per couple. iOW - if my sister got married, i would be invited to one of the events, not all of them. and as far as i recall, the couple doesn't get gifts at the party.

An interesting custom relating to sheva brachot is the invitation of a "new face" - someone who hasn't been at the wedding.

(question - if you don't mind answering: is your brother jewish? I was raised as - and lived as - an orthodox jew until about 10 years ago. i can't imagine anyone in orthodox circles marrying a non-jewish person and continuing to keep a jewish life. it's just *not done* - unless your brother converted. sorry for the nosy question!)

have fun!
Thanks for the info....it good to know that I can skip some and not feel guilty ;-)

To answer your question...my brother is technically Jewish.  My mother converted when she married my (now ex) stepfather/before he was born and he was raised jewish and had a Bar Mitzvah. I don't know that he is so much an agnostic now (although he says he is) as much as a "non practicing Jew" because he still celebrates the major holidays with my mother (although not by going to Temple - usually just the food part at her house...and I will go to her house as well for those when I can make it ;-) ).  I haven't seen my brother since before his wedding (although we talk on the phone all the time), but they will be at my sister's house for Thanksgiving and I too am interested to find out how they have been integrating 2 very different "lifestyles" in to what still seems to be a VERY happy marriage! ;-)

Edited to add:  and I just got an email from the stepmother that it is an adults-only event.  VERY glad that I emailed her asking, because the invite was NOT clear at all about that!

MyFamily

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Re: email invites, Sheva Brachot question and going forward (long)
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2012, 01:46:15 PM »
I am a practicing Orthodox Jew and I've never seen sheva brachos (sorry, I say brachos differently - both right just different pronunciations) done the way you describe.  All of mine (and I had 7) were held immediately the week after our wedding - it was like a honeymoon with dinners with tons of friends and family for a week.  Fun but exhausting.  So, I'm giving advice based on how I do sheva brachos, but their traditions seem different from mine, so I could be off base, and I apologize if I am.  Actually, as I'm typing this I wonder, when your brother and sil got married was it a legal ceremony only without the religious ceremony? Because maybe they are having the religious ceremony in December?

That said - no, don't bring gifts to them; and no, you don't need to attend them all - only the bride and groom attend them all.  You can certainly attend more than one if you want, though.  If you are going to the one her step-mother is organizing, is there going to be one which her mother is organizing that you will be invited to, because you may want to go to that one as well.  Also, ask your brother bluntly which ones he'd like you to attend.  And don't assume that they are all adults-only (I'm assuming different hosts for each night, since that is what I am familiar with; I can't imagine one host for all 7 meals), so if there is one that is kid friendly and you think your kids will enjoy that one, maybe you can go to that one as well.


"The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones" - Solomon ibn Gabirol

cicero

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Re: email invites, Sheva Brachot question and going forward (long)
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2012, 02:19:07 PM »
  All of mine (and I had 7) were held immediately the week after our wedding - it was like a honeymoon with dinners with tons of friends and family for a week.

oh - MyFamily you are correct - i misread this! yes, of course the sheva brachot/brachos are held immediately after the wedding. i've never heard of it being held months and months later!

curiouser, and curiouser...

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