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Jewish Weddings

How much a Rabbi costs?

My fiance and I just had our first meeting with a Rabbi we want to use for our Chuppa ceremony. He is charging us $800 for his services + kantor. I think it's a little outrageous, given that he is not giving us anything (ketubah, wine, etc...).  I called a few other rabbi's and all of them told me that they don't have a price and that we can give them anything we want (or not give anything at all). I feel like we are getting advantage of and strongly feel that a spiritual/religions person should not act as a businessman and charge so much. I am wondering how much other people on this website are paying their rabbi's. Thank you.

Re: How much a Rabbi costs?

  • edited December 2011
    For us, we looked at 3 rabbis.  the first is mine from childhood who wouldnt give me what i wanted in my interfaith ceremony, so I moved onto one from a recommendation from a friend.  They wanted to charge us $600...I do not know if what you mentioned was included because there ended up being a mix up in the dates, and they were already booked on our date.  The 3rd, which is the one we're going with, also said, it is whatever we can afford to donate to the synagogue.  he originally told me the average donation was $400 and then in March told me it was $600, but said, to let him know of any financial hardships and the synagogue will take whatever.  We're planning on giving $400 and nothing is included.  Well we could have a ketubah, which really isnt one and no wine is provided.  It also depends where you live and what everyone charges.  I say, go with the Rabbi that feels right to the two of you and that you feel comfortable paying probably close to $500 (average, I guess) for.
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  • edited December 2011
    we're paying a lot more than you. and we looked at about 5 rabbis all of whom were in the same range.

    But our rabbi is marrying a jew (me) and a non jew (FI), so its not like we had a lot of choices. 

    i'm embarrassed at the amount of money clergy of MY faith are asking for something like this. it is really off-putting and verging on greedy in my opinion. no other faith that i have heard about asks for anywhere close to this amount. makes me sick to my stomach. 
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  • edited December 2011
    based on my investigations, it looks like $500-$800 is a normal/typical amount.  But I think it's usually asked for as a donation to the synagogue, rather than a check made out to the Rabbi.
  • edited December 2011
    The rabbi and cantor we are using are free because they are from fmil's temple. We are of course giving donations to their charity funds.
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  • 2dBride2dBride
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: How much a Rabbi costs?:
    we're paying a lot more than you. and we looked at about 5 rabbis all of whom were in the same range. But our rabbi is marrying a jew (me) and a non jew (FI), so its not like we had a lot of choices.  i'm embarrassed at the amount of money clergy of MY faith are asking for something like this. it is really off-putting and verging on greedy in my opinion. no other faith that i have heard about asks for anywhere close to this amount. makes me sick to my stomach. 
    Posted by lynniearudner
    We had a similar experience.  Our rabbi was $1,500.  However, we were an interfaith couple needing to get married in Massachusetts (because we are both female) even though we live near DC.  We had several rabbis turn us down, so we went with the one who would do it, in spite of the expense.
  • Musicheals71Musicheals71
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    edited December 2011
    My rabbi charges $500 for just his services.  If I wanted the cantor as well, it would cost me an additional $400, so I nixed the cantor.
  • silversparkssilversparks
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    edited December 2011
    I'm not sure I understand what you mean when you say "nothing is included". I don't think $500 is too much to pay for a highly educated professional who is going to be responsible for officiating at one of the most meaningful ceremonies of your life. This person is giong to spend time meeting with you to find out what you want, possibly provide pre-marital counsellng, answer your questions about Jewish aspects of the ceremony and reception as they come up, and spend time writing and preparing to ensure that you, your FI, and your families and guests feel cared for and acknowledged at your wedding. And yes, rabbis are professionals who need to eat. I can't say that I have any idea what clergy in other religions charge for similar services. And by the way, rabbis are totally unnecessary for a Jewish wedding. So if you really are not prepared to pay the piper, all you have to do is sign the ketubah with whatever witnesses you feel are acceptable.
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  • silversparkssilversparks
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    edited December 2011
    I apologize for the somewhat b*tchy above post. I just think that a lot of times the rabbis get a bad rap cause people don't understand how much work is actually involved for them.
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  • edited December 2011
    Deborah don't apologize, you are right. A rabbi can charge what he wants if he is not a congregational rabbi. It sounds like you are either not a member of a congregation or your congregational rabbi will not perform the ceremony. If either of these are the case, then you really do not have a lot of negotiation power. Generally the rabbis who say "Give what you can" are the ones who are associated with a congregation who pays their salary and the money just goes to the congregation.

    We are using my childhood rabbi who has since retired and we are asked to contribute to his fund but we can choose the amount. We are planning on giving $500 for the ceremony as well as inviting him to the reception. 

    Also, the knot budgeter suggested 1% of the budget go towards your wedding so you should use that as an estimate.
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  • RachiemooRachiemoo
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    edited December 2011
    Our Rabbi was a family friend and did our ceremony for free.  We did donate $500.00 to the non-profit organization that he works for after the fact.  I personally don't think $800.00 is outrageous if you think he is the right fit for you.  If you don't want to pay that much then I'd probably try to find someone less expensive since it seems you've found plenty of Rabbis who charge less.  Best of luck!
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  • edited December 2011
    I think it depends - some rabbis really do put in a lot of work, and for those that do, then paying $500+ is worth it.  There are others that are very hands off and for a 20+ minute ceremony, and signings before hand, that's a lot to charge a couple.

    You don't need a rabbi and if cost is an issue, I'd get just a close friend or family member to just say a few words, and have every other aspect you need.  You'll have to get someone of some state authority to sign off on the marriage license though, and that's where the use of a rabbi is really of importance versus the Jewish ceremony part.

    We used out shul rabbi and I wouldn't say anything was included.  Being members, we'd have use of the sanctuary anyway, and I provided the wine and all the decor.  In the end, the rabbi did bring something to break, but I could have done that.  He made things a bit complicated so in the end, we had to have a lot of meetings than usual to finalize things and the day of, he did make a few gaffes that annoyed me, but what can I do now.

    It cost us $500 and we didn't add anything to that since he and his wife were invited to the reception - which they made it for about half the cocktail hour and through the first course of dinner.
  • Shasha3100Shasha3100
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    edited December 2011
    Our Rabbi is costing $900. He is not affilitated with a Synagogue, but does run his own congregation for Jewish people who are not affiliated with Synagogues. I hope that makes sense, but anyway another Rabbi around here who does something similar was charging $1,200. Considering you are getting a Cantor as well, I think it is a good price.
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  • edited December 2011
    our rabbi was a friend of DH's and we flew him to vancouver from maryland to officiate.  he didn't ask for anything beyond the price of the ticket, so he cost us $700, which was a steal as far as i'm concerned. 

    he spent hours and hours of time with us ahead of the ceremony, met with us the day before, and did a rockin' good service, which was inclusive, spritual and 45 minutes long!  not to mention officating at our bedekken as well. 

    i'm not sure how i'd feel about paying $1,500 for a rabbi to officate, but if you're looking for a specialized person (same sex marriage, interfaith, you're not a member of a congregation) i guess it becomes more within the realm of acceptable. 
  • 2dBride2dBride
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    edited December 2011
    Interestingly, we didn't have any particular difficulty in finding a rabbi to perform a same-sex marrage.  Finding one to perform an interfaith marriage was much tougher.  However, it being a same-sex marriage increased the cost for us indirectly, because we had to get married in a state other than the one in which we live, and thus we could not have the rabbi of our own congregation perform the ceremony.
  • edited December 2011
    We used our congregation's Rabbi but donated $500 to his personal synagogue fund (that is what he charges non-members).
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  • edited December 2011
    This got me thinking yesterday so I called the synagogue to ask what the average donation is. They said $300. I think we will give $360 to both rabbis (my FI's childhood rabbi and our hillel rabbi are coofficiating) because it's a nice Jewish number.
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: How much a Rabbi costs?:
    Interestingly, we didn't have any particular difficulty in finding a rabbi to perform a same-sex marrage.  Finding one to perform an interfaith marriage was much tougher.  However, it being a same-sex marriage increased the cost for us indirectly, because we had to get married in a state other than the one in which we live, and thus we could not have the rabbi of our own congregation perform the ceremony.
    Posted by 2dBride
    this makes sense because formally, reform rabbis are encouraged to do same-sex ceremonies but not interfaith ones (though obviously it's up to each rabbi to make their own decision).  but since it's not forbidden, a rabbi doesn't risk anything by performing such a ceremony, unlike in conservative and orthodox sects.  

    that being said... to answer the question, my FH and I are having an interfaith ceremony as well, and our rabbi is costing us $800.  we spoke to 3 rabbis, one was $750, and the other one was also $800, so all within that same range.
  • edited December 2011
    Our synagogue requests $250 each as donations to the rabbi's fund and the cantor's fund.  It seems pretty reasonable to me...especially since these are donations, maybe a tax deduction?
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  • edited December 2011

    Our Rabbi costs $650, but he told us that he would work with us on a price if it was too much.  This was one of the more inexpensive prices we found, probably because we are having an interfaith ceremony (he is Jewish and I am not), he does not belong to a synagogue, and it is somewhat of a destination wedding (we live in NY and the wedding is in CT).  This price includes at least 4 "counselling" sessions and we felt the most comfortable with this Rabbi. 

  • twistdfemtwistdfem
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    edited September 16
    sure but a psychiatrist can save your life and police men put their life in danger and neither of those charge 500 dollars, esp not for reading for an hour .  taking advantage of a gay or interfaith couple is even more disgusting. men of clergy enter their profession to teach about their faith not run a business.
  • I paid my childhood Rabbi $800 9 years ago so I don't think these prices are out of line whatsoever.
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  • You have to take into consideration that a rabbi also has to travel, it's not just a 25 minute ceremony.  He meets with the couple (he met with us twice), tailors the ceremony according to their preferences and spent many years in seminary to become a rabbi.  You are also asking him to be there for you on a Saturday night.  Most of us don't have to work at that time.  If you find one on the web as we did, there's a cost for advertising on the Knot and other sites.  I'm sure that's not cheap.

    Anyhow, we used Rabbi Ronald Broden who was wonderful.  We paid $750 but everyone said it was the most memorable wedding ceremony they had attended.  I don't remember his website but you can google his name if interested.  He's in New York.
    Kathleen
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