Jewish bridal fair draws interfaith, unaffiliated couples

Irving Greisman of Irving’s Premium Challah cut up samples as quickly as people could grab them. Achi Ben-Shalom of the Jewish band Adama sat behind a TV monitor, playing a video of a wedding reception where he performed. Ornately decorated chuppahs hung in the atrium.

That was the scene at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City on Sunday, Jan. 29 as approximately 200 people — including a number of interfaith and same-sex couples — attended workshops and perused vendors at Project Welcome’s first-ever Jewish wedding fair.

Project Welcome, a program of the Union for Reform Judaism, especially targets the unaffiliated and interfaith couples.

But while there were a good number of vendors and other Jewish agencies with tables, it was the workshops that really made the fair different than most. Workshops covered such topics as choosing a ketubah, creating an interfaith or same-sex ceremony, how to choose a rabbi and the Jewish perspective on sex.

Anna Marx, who organized the event, said that attendees came from throughout the Bay Area. She added that 63 people pre-registered for the workshops, and attendance was almost twice that.

“I think it was really successful and people had fun,” she said, noting that one vendor shared her impressions that most couples were unaffiliated but looking for some kind of Jewish presence in their lives.

Marx said they hoped to do such a fair biannually, though that would be dependent on funding, as all of Project Welcome’s funding comes from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund and the Walter and Elise Haas Fund.

Marla Kolman of Alameda said she found it helpful to meet with some of the vendors in preparation for her May wedding. “The planning process can be so isolating and overwhelming,” she said. “It’s helpful to get a better sense of what’s out there and what’s possible.”

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."