Clash of Cultures – A Torah Observant Wedding and Father’s Day

When we were planning the wedding of our daughter, we really didn’t think that having it on Father’s Day would cause a conflict. And so far it hasn’t, except for one exception… our secular friends.

We don’t have that many secular friends, but the response from those we did invite has been weak.

What did you think are the primary causes?

a) Father’s day is a big thing in the secular world, despite it being a minor event in Torah Observant society

b) Secular people think that they will feel uncomfortable at a Torah Observant wedding, so they often opt out

c) The Torah Observant lifestyle leaves little room to nurture secular friendships causing them to lose some of their luster

16 comments on “Clash of Cultures – A Torah Observant Wedding and Father’s Day

  1. Mark, I just saw this; Mazal Tov on your daughter’s chasunah!! I hope all went well.

    When our daughter got married we put together a very carefully worded description of what to expect at an Orthodox wedding (including a timeline) & inserted it in the invitations of those unfamiliar (& as requested by my not-frum machatanim). We also had some available on a table at the chuppah.

    There was a substantial number of non-frum (& some non-Jewish) people at the wedding & we wanted to make sure they had an idea of what to expect. My daughter requested we put something on the invite about modesty; that too was very carefully worded & left to individual discretion. All seating was separate & was accepted without comment (at least to me!).

    The description/timeline was very well received. The comment I received most often from the “unfamiliar” (some intermarried) is that they had never seen such pure joy at a wedding & felt the warmth & love present throughout. We are also blessed to have WONDERFUL friends who went out of their way to be gracious & make the “unfamiliar” feel comfortable. It far exceeded our expectations!

    If anyone would like a copy, I’d be happy to e-mail it to you. You can contact me through the Administrator.

  2. Mr. Cohen -read the NYT or any other newspaper anytime between Thanksgiving and Xmas-there are always articles by someone obsessing and worrying about being in the same room with family relatives for an annual dinner.It deos remind me of a famous Talmudic passage about how the Nations of the World rejected a mitzvah kallah , namely Sukkah,

  3. Aside from those ‘special’ days, there’s really a mitzvah of kibud ben v’bas today, as children demand respect from their parents who rarely have control over them. Mashiach is coming.

  4. Secular parents and children set aside these days each year in order for the children to honor the parents. It takes on a somewhat sacred tone as there is otherwise no mitzva for daily kibud.

  5. The OP comments that Father’s Day isn’t much of a holiday in the Torah observant world…I actually think that’s a shame. Father’s Day is actually 1 day that observant and non-observant can actually celebrate together and enjoy each other’s company w/out religious tension (altho of course food, etc. needs to be worked out). Appreciation of one’s father shld cut across religious lines. While we may think there’s more to Kibud Av (V’Am) than a 1 day recognition, can’t we also take part in FD (& MD) as well? In fact I wld also think that option C wld be the truest reason for secular friends decline yr wedding invite…and by celebrating such holidays as Father’s Day, we (observant Jews) can attempt to maintain a connection w/secular friends & family. (And I don’t mean to be suggesting that the wedding shldn’t be held on FD, esp in the evening!)

  6. Steve Brizel said (message #10):

    “You cannot imagine the inner turmoil and angst that many Non Jews and secular Jews have about being in the same room with their relatives one day a year…”

    I would like to hear more about that, please.

  7. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Thansgiving-Xmas are all significant days in the secular world . You cannot imagine the inner turmoil and angst that many Non Jews and secular Jews have about being in the same room with their relatives one day a year-which is something that happens weekly on Shabbos, and on Yamim Tovim as well.

  8. IMO, it should not make one bit of difference if the wedding is on Dad’s day. A wedding is a never-to-be-missed event, and a non-frum family should be able to understand that. Besides, you can call Dad, or email, or Skype, and you can arrange to see him the next day or week!

    BTW Mark, Mazal Tov!!!!!!

  9. I got married on December 24 and it caused a problem that my intermarried relatives wouldn’t come. This was even those with spouses that had supposedly “converted.”

  10. If someone doesn’t live in close proximity to their father, Father’s Day can be an important (and full) day. Even though my Mother doesn’t make a big deal of Mother’s day, she does visit one of my brothers in Jersey. My mother lives in New York and with traffic, even a four hour visit can mean a seven hour day. Certainly, this isn’t the situation with everyone but it certainly happens. I wouldn’t be surprised if some who feel uncomfortable attending the wedding would use Father’s Day as a polite excuse, though. (I, for one, will be there so please don’t forget to buy me a card)

  11. I once was asked to give a presentation of a recent case I’d been involved in at a bar association committee meeting. I was very honored and excited. Imagine my surprise when only about six people came! Why the low turnout? It could be they were being kind to me, but this was unlikely; it was, after all, a regularly-scheduled committee meeting.

    The surprising answer: It was after work on Valentine’s Day, and, of course, people had to go to dinner with their spouses.

    Either they actually were being kind to me, or I am really, really out of touch with the secular world in this respect.

  12. I’ve seen nicely done Orthodox wedding handouts that describe all the steps of the process, ceremony, etc., per halacha. Maybe the invitation packets sent to the uninformed could include such handouts, so they’d know what to expect. They might become curious or relieved enough to want to come.

  13. (b) is not a problem in my experience. Most secular people are curious and/or amused, unless they were formerly observant and had negative experiences with that.

  14. One friend who came to my first daughter’s wedding, said he couldn’t come to this one because of Father’s day. Many secular people try to come for the start (6:30 pm) and don’t realize that observant families making the wedding appreciate any amount of time that people spend at the wedding.

    We didn’t include a modesty clause, but we’re having totally separate seating and we did inform them of that in separate emails so they and their wives (if they came) wouldn’t be surprised.

    At my first daughter’s wedding I spent some time with every one of them. A few them insisted on dancing in the middle of the separate father’s circle.

    When the responses started coming in, I felt a little sad, but when I tried to imagine the situation from their point of view it was quite understandable.

  15. I vote for c, with a and b being just excuses.
    Really try to get them to come…be super-inviting and warm, and greet them when you can and go to their table when you can…obviously not so easy for the father of the kallah, but they may not really not understand that.

    Mazel Tov and loads of nachas!

  16. Probably (b) and (c) more than (a). Most secular people do not spend an entire day celebrating Father’s Day, and are willing to attend other events on Father’s Day.

    Perhaps if you sent a personal note or email telling your secular friends how valued their presence would be despite religious differences, they would feel welcome.

    I don’t know if your invitation included a note about wearing modest dress, but that might turn off some secular couples. I don’t know how I’d suggest dealing with that situation, if you really want them to celebrate with you.

    If your circle of secular friends is really small, you probably don’t have a large enough statistical sample to draw conclusions.

    Even those who have sent regrets might enjoy a personal note from you about how you value their friendship, after the fact, of course.

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