Jewish etiquette advice

Minna Rae Friedman

By Minna Rae Friedman, Special to Chicago Jewish News

Dear Minna Rae,

I just received a “Save the date” notice for a destination wedding next summer. I know already, that for several reasons, I won’t be able to attend. I will be involved in an alumni project, it is too expensive for me at this time and my spouse can’t travel and I wouldn’t even go alone. Should I write the couple now, that I wouldn’t able to attend and just thank them for the note?

Can’t make it


Dear Can’t make it,

This was just a Save the Date note, not an actual invitation to the wedding. It really doesn’t require a response or is even expected. And then, you really never know what the future holds for you, in this case, anyway. No. Don’t write the couple now about whether you can or won’t be able to attend. A note of thanks would o.k. if you like, but don’t indicate you attendance. Wait until you get the actual invitation to respond with that answer. Couples really don’t expect everyone on their invite list to attend a destination wedding as much as they would more attendance at a local event.


Dear Minna Rae,

Six of us old friends are in college now, and can only get together every other month or so for supper. One of the guys starts digging in the minute he gets served, while the rest of us are still being served. How can I tell him this is so rude, without sounding like a ‘know-it-all’? This really bothers the rest of us.

Not a Know-It-All


Dear Not,

This really is a rude happening. According to Miss Manners, the guru of good manners, the only thing to do when waiting for everyone to be served, is to either take a sip of your drink, or open and butter your baked potato. Maybe you could say to your friend, “Guys. We’re going to be out of college soon and in the working field. We’ll be eating out with executives and higher-ups in our companies and I’m concerned with how we appear. I read in Miss Manners that we should wait for everyone, at least up to 8 guests, to be served before we start eating and I think we should start practicing our manners now, so we don’t look as goofs when we are with the ‘biggies’. She says we can take a drink or butter our potatoes while we wait, so let’s start now.” Maybe you could even start a game and fine a few cents when one breaks the ‘rule’.


Dear Minna Rae,

Although I am in a wheelchair, I’m fairly self-sufficient. I get annoyed when someone asks me what is wrong with me and if I am with a friend, people assume the friend is actually a caretaker and they address her when talking to me. Is this right?



Dear Wheelie,

I’m not surprised you get annoyed at how people react to you being in a wheelchair. Here are some rules for this situation. 1. It’s not polite to ask a person what is wrong with them. It is a personal matter and not anyone else’s business. 2. Even if another person is with a wheelchair occupant, speak directly to the person you wish to address. If there is a problem and they can’t answer or if the companion is actually a caretaker, they will handle the situation. 3. When speaking to a deaf person, look at them and speak to them directly. Even if they can’t ‘hear’ you, they may lip read or have someone with them sign for them.


Dear Minna Rae,

Some friends are planning a wedding shower for me and have asked me about the invitation list. Do they have to invite everyone to the shower who will be invited to the wedding?

All or ?


Dear All,’

Glad you are not involved in planning this shower. The bride should never plan her own shower. Those invited to the shower should also be invited to the wedding and be close friends of the bride. Never invite someone to a bridal shower who will not be invited to the wedding. It is not necessary, though, to invite everyone from the wedding list to the shower. Be selective.


Dear Minna Rae,

I know it’s customary these days to register for wedding gifts. We are going to register some gift choices, but should we include the name of our registry in the wedding invitation? There will also be some pre wedding parties and a shower which will have guests purchasing gifts. Should we include that info on those invites?



Dear Registered,

According to bridal authority, Beverly Clark, ”Your wedding invitation is a share my event” document, so sending gifts is optional.” Don’t list a registry on or in your wedding invite. You may want to include a registry card in party or shower invites, but there are many ways to get that info out. Usually, an invitee will ask the hostess or family member where there is a registry. You can even post a Web site where you can list wedding plans and other info.

Minna Rae Friedman was a wedding and event consultant for over 20 years. Questions can be sent to her at

1 Comment on "Jewish etiquette advice"

  1. Dear Minna Rae,
    I’m Jew and I’m invited for a shabbat dinner to a family I’ll meet for the first time. What I should bring with me?

    Thank you

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