Monday, June 9, 2014

Why Am I Invited to this Wedding?


Hey Ruchi,

I've noticed in the religious community that I'm getting invited to weddings and bar mitzvahs that are out of town and that I would SO OBVIOUSLY not attend because we are not that close to the people, etc. So and so's daughter is getting married in NY. So and so's son who used to live here is having a bar mitzvah in Chicago, etc. Do I then I have to send a check or a donation? I sort of feel like... just because one person has the (in my opinion) chutzpah (too strong, I know, but not sure right word) to invite me when it would be pretty extraordinarily to leave town for an acquaintance's relative's event, why do I then have to be in the position to send a gift. It happens a handful of times a year. If it were an event in town, it wouldn't bug me as much. Though even that can feel a little unnecessary based on the VERY CASUAL level of friendship I"m talking about. Friendship is not even the right word... just people I know.

I did not edit this so sorry for typos and general nasty tone. I just opened another invite so was feeling it in the moment.


I have definitely noticed this difference between the religious and secular communities.  Orthodox folks, for some reason (like their guest lists aren't big enough as it is) invite everyone and their mother to their simchas. It's just a way of being inclusive.  Gifts are not expected when people don't attend, unless you're close - even then it's in poor taste to "expect" a gift, but you know what I mean.  They'd probably be shocked if you sent one and would then say, "Oh my gosh!  Can you believe they sent a gift!  That was so unexpected and sweet of them."

But I do always send back the reply card and say thanks so much for including me, and I'm so sorry we cannot participate in person, and end with a blessing (which they'll appreciate just as a gift) like "May you build a beautiful Jewish home of which everyone can be proud!"

Or to a bar mitzvah boy or bat mitzvah girl, "May you grow up to be a wonderful member of your family and community, and bring much nachas to all!"

Hope that helps,


  1. I've also noticed this. That said, I live near a college campus where much of the Orthodox presence is related to kiruv, and so many of these events serve as examples of Orthodoxy in practice. It still feels very nice to be included, and I've gotten to participate in several meaningful simchas through such invitations.

  2. Should be workingJune 9, 2014 at 3:14 PM

    I'm still waiting for my invitation to an O wedding!! :)

    Meanwhile I got an email from someone whose name I didn't recognize, requesting our home address to send an invitation to my preteen daughter. I emailed back that I needed a hint as to how we know this person, since I didn't remember the name. It was a mom of a girl my daughter went to camp with LAST AUGUST and has not seen since, but the girl apparently wants to invite my daughter to her bat mitzvah. Kind of weird to me. It's an R family, though, not O.

  3. We here in Israel often send simcha invitations to friends and family "back home" even though we know they aren't coming. It's more of a "this is where we're at now," informational gesture, not a request for a gift. Those on the US end understand this. The only ones who might send a check are older relatives.

    I would imagine invitations from other cities are sent with the same idea in mind. If not, well, you won't get any more!

  4. They just don't want you to feel bad that you were not invited. No pressure to send a gift

  5. Thank you for this explanation! I needed it.

  6. What is amazing to me is the cost that would ensue on all sides if everyone decided to come! How could they afford to feed everyone, given that (unlike Israelis) we don't usually give cash? What about a small (very small) donation to tsedakah in honor of the wedding and a note sent to them? It's always a good time to give tsedakah, right? Come to think of it, someone should design this service. It could be called Decline-A-Simcha, you would have a choice of organizations, and the celebrants would receive a beautiful card / note about your gift with the amount unspecified.

    1. Trying to reply to SDK, but the reply button won't oblige, so just putting it here.....on a bit of a different but similar situation: ie giving tsedakah in place of a lovely, non-Jewish husband of 34 years passed away three weeks ago. It's very much a custom in general here, in Scotland anyway, at Christian funerals to send flowers; aside from my own feelings, we both hate cut flowers, for several reasons. get to my point....his request was that anyone who had intended or wanted to send flowers give a donation to an animal charity. My beloved bashert....and his Presbyterian tsedakah..... Makes me smile( and brings on the tears again) to think of it like that....

  7. Not everyone is popular - some people may truly enjoy being included. Far better to "inconvenience" a fellow Jew with an invitation than to leave someone out. I think a kind note on the response card is perfect. not everyone can afford to send a gift, but if finances permit, a small donation to the shul, JCC, Jewish Family Service, etc. would be a lovely gesture.


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