Beliefs and Practices

On Interfaith Relationships:

A longtime believer in supporting couples in interfaith relationships, Rabbi Disick does officiate at interfaith weddings. Since interfaith couples face at least one more issue than those in same-faith relationships, Rabbi Disick's years of experience in this area become an important asset to the couples who work with him in advance of their wedding. Not only does he have direct personal experience regarding interfaith relationships, Rabbi Disick was one of the original corps of instructors in the Introduction to Judaism classes which were founded for the very purpose of offering a learning community for couples in interfaith relationships.

On Funerals:

"Who among us has not passed through trials and bereavements?" Rabbi Disick is keenly aware that this question posed by the Jewish Prayerbook reminds each of us that no one is immune to life's slings and arrows. He reminds himself that the prayerbook continues: "All that we prize is but leant to us."

Rabbi Disick never pretends to know the deceased when he officiates for the those he never met. He makes it his practice to spend as much time with families as possible so that a funeral may accurately reflect with sensitivity, a caring farewell: authentic, truthful and dignified.

On Spiritual Counseling:

After more than 25 years in ministry, Rabbi Marc Disick is best known for his unique ability to offer a caring ear and sound direction at life's most challenging times. Sometimes our choices and their unpredictable consequences can baffle us. At those moments, we may simply have the very real need to be listened to...patiently, seriously and quietly. Rabbi Disick is not afraid to offer clear advice. But neither does he hesitate to refer those who would benefit from it most to seek the assistance of accredited mental health professionals.

His skills were honed by supervised coursework in pastoral counseling at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health in New York City.

On Illness & Aging:

Well known for his keen listening skills and a unique depth of compassion, Rabbi Disick knows how to help those who face the serious issues that inevitably come with aging and life-threatening or terminal illness. For years, he has found a way to bring kindness to the most difficult conversations surrounding end-of-life issues. A deep believer that there is such a thing as a "good death," Rabbi Disick affords individuals the ability to make choices even when it seems impossible that any choices remain.

He makes great use of The Five Wishes, a finely tuned advanced medical directive tool which, through a guided conversation, assures individuals that even if they are unable to communicate, they will receive the kind of care and be treated exactly as they wished when they were, in fact, able to convey these most serious sentiments.

On LGBT:

Since long before his ordination in 1986, Rabbi Disick has been a proponent of equal rights for LGBT Americans. He has long officiated at LGBT  weddings and counseled dozens of same-sex couples wishing to create what were once known as "alternative" union services. Finally legal in the tri-state area, Rabbi Disick works closely with partners, grooms and brides, making each ceremony unique by integrating both traditional and contemporary elements which weave a careful design, one which reflects the personalities of those standing under the Chuppah to celebrate their marriage.

Rabbi Disick's personal style is varied enough to jumpstart a party with his good cheer. But just as easily, and without being the least bit maudlin, during a service he can recall the sacred memory of deceased members of the family who so would have loved to be standing in celebration, in a way which actually brings spiritual uplift to a sacred moment.

He usually meets three times, at a minimum, with couples in advance of the ceremony and relies on Anita Diamant's The New Jewish Wedding as a preparation resource for couples.

On Weddings:

No two couples are alike and their wedding ceremony marks the beginning of a new and unique family. For over 25 years, Rabbi Disick has always taken great care to individuate the moment a couple marks the beginning of their married life. Typically, no fewer than three preparatory meetings are involved at his Greenwich CT office. He prefers to involve family members and makes liberal use of heirlooms whose stories can inform the ceremony by connecting those under the Chuppah with their family's history. His is a relaxed and calming style, and brings both humor and gravitas to the ceremony as the moment demands. Here he describes his work with couples:

With each couple, I aim to create a truly personalized Jewish ceremony which feels both traditional and progressive. But personalizing requires work. Remember, it is through the people and things you surround yourselves with that your wedding service becomes a reflection of a your unique chemistry.

I take pride in meeting with each couple at least three times at a minimum. When schedules or distance makes it impossible to meet personally, Skype has provided an acceptable alternative.

Our tradition requires that your guests celebrate your wedding with full hearts. I make it my personal responsibility to assure that your ceremony ignites an amazing party, one whose memory will always bring a smile to your face.

At the beginning of our work together I urge couples to purchase and read Anita Diamant's accessible and easily available The New Jewish Wedding. Written in 1986 and revised in 2001, it remains my favorite of the Jewish wedding books out there because each chapter stands on its own making it easy for any reader to start the book wherever she may wish.

Before our first meeting, I'll ask you to both read through and make note of what you find interesting in Diamant. Be inclusive. For now, edit in. We'll edit out later. Think about the following before our first meeting:

  • What do like among the Ketubah's you've looked at?
  • Is there a member of the family who has a special talent, one we might be able to integrate into your celebration? Think broadly, you never know.
  • Who will be your oldest guests? How might we show them honor?
  • What are your families' cherished ritual objects? How might we integrate them into your ceremony?
  • What ritual objects will you need for your new home? Might there be someone from whom you would especially like to receive: a Mezuzah for your new home or bedroom, Shabbat Candlesticks, Kiddush Cup, Challah Board, Challah Cover
  • Does the groom or bride own a Tallit?
  • Many families have fractures, old hurts, divorces, baggage. It's important for me to know about those issues so I don't put my foot in my mouth.
  • Some couples like to offer original words to one another along with the vows.
  • How can we integrate the sacred memory of deceased and loved parents or grandparents into the ceremony without making it feel like a memorial service?
  • Lots of couples enjoy the participation of family and friends in the service itself, usually through offering an English or Hebrew reading, one I would work to select with you. Done well, it does not lengthen the service. We would work together to discover what fits. The Seven Blessings offers a good opportunity here, one blessing for each reader or pair of readers.
  • The Chuppah provides a participation opportunity as well. Instead of a floral Chuppah, a simple Tallit atop four polls, perhaps with some Baby's Breath garland, brought in at the head of the procession by four participants, offers a beautiful alternative.
  • Lots of couples have already focused energy on a Tzedakah, a charitable cause. Perhaps there is a cause that you as a couple would like to support, in either deed or dollars, in advance of your ceremony? Perhaps there's a special reason why that Tzedakah speaks to you.
  • Who will not be able to come to your ceremony? Who will you miss most at your ceremony? These absences, for whatever the reason, are often deeply felt by brides and grooms. It's important for me to learn about them if for no other reason than the comfort that comes because you know that I know. Never underestimate the burden-lifting power of sharing what weighs down our hearts.