Cantor Debbi grew up in a traditional Jewish environment, so it was painful for her parents when she came home and told them she had fallen in love, and was going to marry, a non-Jewish man. Her and her then-husband brought different faiths, and different values to their marriage. They raised great children with bits and pieces of both identities. Yet, she looked around at her own community and felt that it was unwelcoming to interfaith couples. “It felt like there was this idea that you could come…after you were married of course.” So, she decided she wanted to help other interfaith couples and share her experiences, both good and bad. “It can be done with integrity and respect.”
She became a spiritual leader of the community, got ordained, and became a cantor. “I realized this is exactly what I was meant to do with the rest of my life. Every year I grow and learn ways to reach out to the Jewish community.” Which brings us to today. Cantor Debbi knows how overwhelming it can be for a couple to blend, not only two ceremonies, but two very different lifestyles and belief systems.
Cantor Debbi helps couples navigate the challenges of marrying someone from a different faith background, not only before the wedding, but life afterwards. She is also often brought in to help parents accept these ideas. “I have no interest in just showing up, doing a deed, and walking away from a wedding,” she explains, “I hope to impact a couple’s future.” She strives to be a resource for the couple, and their families, long after the chuppah!
She has just one rule: Jesus is not on the the guest list. “You can use any name for God; father, spirit, Lord, אדוני. We can pray to God, but we cannot involve the name of Jesus and 99% of the time, both sides can agree on this.”
“Interfaith weddings really make one look at things differently. We always need to remember that this is a celebration of love. A wedding ceremony doesn’t define you. It is what a couple is going to do tomorrow that really makes the difference.”
Cantor Debbie Ballard has written various pieces and helped hundreds and hundreds of couples. We are so excited to build a relationship with her on Jewish Wedding Blog! In fact, my interview with her was so wonderful I am editing a second post about Interfaith marriages exploring some of Cantor Debbi’s most memorable couples! Be sure to stay in the loop!
For more information check out her website My Personal Cantor
What questions do you have for Cantor Debbi? What do you want know? Tell us in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org