Guide to Jewish etiquette

Minna Rae Friedman

By Minna Rae Friedman, Special to Chicago Jewish News

Dear Minna Rae,

We are addressing our wedding invitations and have a question. We really want our officiating rabbi and his wife to remain after the ceremony for the reception and dinner, but think, if we send them an official invite, they will feel obligated to also give us a gift. We will be paying him for his services and really want them to join us afterwards for the celebration. (I think if they happened to be our friends outside of this official duty, they might feel it proper to give a gift, but this is not the case.)  How can we do this in the proper manner?


Dear Puzzled,

This is a question almost every bridal couple has. I think the best way to invite the rabbi or any clergy and spouse, is to ask personally, way ahead of time, as they often may accept more than one ceremony to officiate at in one evening or afternoon. This way they can decide to accept or not. Tell them you really want them to share the reception and dinner with them and that you have reserved a space at the table for them.


Dear Minna Rae,

My fiancé and I are planning a really small wedding. We are both friendly with two young friends. One is married and other engaged and both have siblings and parents who we know, but are really just good friends with the two young men. Since the wedding will really be small, both in venue and budget, can we just invite the two friends with their partners without the rest of their families?

Selective or Rude?

Dear Selectives,

I’m ignoring the Rude, because you are not. Since you describe the wedding as really small, send the invite to each with his partner and when you are sending them, tell them in person and in advance that since the event will be very small, you have to limit your guests to just a few friends and your family. I’m sure they will understand and will be able to explain that to their families. Maybe at a later date, you can include the others at a more casual get-together.


Dear Minna Rae,

The oddest question came up at a group dinner the other evening. We had asparagus on our plates and all of a sudden there is a discussion about whether we should eat it with our fingers or our forks. This is a new question for me.  Any thoughts from you?

Fingers or Forks?

Dear F and F,

I personally have always eaten asparagus with my fork, but I went to Judith Martin’s old book, Miss Manners Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. Surprise! It’s an old tradition, but it is definitely correct and o.k. to eat asparagus with your fingers. Think I’ll give it a try the next time around.

Helpful Hint – Now that we are buying strawberries, after washing, cut off the tops, cut in half or slice. Put them in a container with ¼ cup of vinegar and ¾ cup of water and they will really last longer than usual. Serve from a slotted spoon.   


Dear Minna Rae,

I work in a large space with other staff, clerks, etc. and where clients and customers  also enter. Some of the younger workers are beginning to dress very more casually and I think inappropriately. Since I am an ‘oldie’ and have been rebuffed in the past, I hesitate to say anything, but something should be done so that our company presents a more professional image. How can this be handled to reach good results.


Dear Offended,

Being an ‘oldie’ is not always a bad thing. In this case, since you do not feel that you should say anything to your fellow employees, at least speak to a supervisor or human relations department about the clothing situation. They should, at least, draw up a page of clothing rules for the whole office, pass it out or post it and see that it is followed. This takes you out of the scene personally, and hopefully will solve the problem. Another, more drastic solution, would be to decide on a uniform, either to be purchased or easily followed, like everyone in the same colored shirt with khaki pants /skirt or white shirt, black bottom or whatever. In any event, a more professional look will prevail.


Minna Rae Friedman was a wedding and party coordinator for over 20 years. Questions can be submitted to her at or to Chicago Jewish News, 4638 W. Church Street, Skokie, Il 60076. When using e-mail, put ‘column query’ in subject line.


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