My best friend from childhood made aliyah after high scool and at long last, met a wonderful Israeli woman to marry. Never mind the fact that I am a pulpit rabbi and he called me to tell me that the wedding date was being set for the week leading up to Rosh Hashanah. Months ago, even with all of the anxiety surrounding the holidays, I decided there was no way I was going to miss this special simcha.
However, a few days before the wedding that I received an email that in some ways created more anxiety than my advance Rosh Hashanah preparation. The email was from my friend asking me to honor him by signing his ketubah. In America, I would have been ecstatic about the opportunity. But as a shomer shabbat Conservative rabbi coming to Israel, where the rabbinate has exclusive control of religious affairs, I became immediately apprehensive about how my signing the ketubah would play out. If I signed my title, “Rabbi,” on the ketubah, would the chief rabbinate look into my background and invalidate the ceremony?
The groom and his family were supportive and said that I should absolutely sign with my title. However, I soon decided that as the ultimate mitzvah of a Jewish wedding was to misameyach hechatan ve hakalah (to rejoice with the bride and groom), and not to cause them stress, that I would sign the ketubah without the title.