work has been featured in (but not limited to) CNN, ABC NEWS, The Maury Povich Show, The Ananda Lewis Show, Platinum Weddings, NPR, The Associated Press, Publishers Weekly, The Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, New York Magazine, Time Out NY, Florida Sun Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Mateo Times, Modern Bride, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides, The Knot, The New Etiquette for Today's Bride, New York Weddings, Washington Weddings, Boston Weddings, California Weddings, For the Bride, Wedding Bells, Manhattan Bride, Downtown Express, AIMS Magazine UK, Personal Journey, Your Path to a More Spiritual Life, Style Me Pretty, Wedding Podcast Network, Idotaketwo.com, TopWeddingSites.com, Interfaith.net, Match.com, Love’sManyColors.com, PersianMirror.com, ExperienceFestival.com and Belief.net. For baby blessing ceremonies, Macomb has been featured on MSNBC and in Pregnancy Magazine. . Macomb has also been interviewed on national
radio and appeared on local and national television including
MSNBC's The Ethical Edge on Interfaith Relationships,
The Party Planner with David Tutera where she created
and performed a marriage ceremony for a couple leaving to
serve in Iraq, and A Wedding Story where she created
and performed a ceremony for a Buddhist Taoist Chinese /Catholic
American couple at Grand Central Station.
See below for articles:
From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:
Interfaith families cut across lines and make
religious institutions edgy.
It's the elephant in the family
room, and it's getting bigger. Each year, among 2.3 million American
unions, thousands of Catholics marry Protestants, Jews marry
Christians, and Buddhists, Mormons, Muslims and Greek Orthodox
believers marry someone from another religion.
Yet not a lot
is written about this phenomenon. The institutions of religion
normally charged with marrying couples don't encourage the practice.
In Judaism, where the rate of intermarriage is especially
striking—an estimated 50% of marriages among Jews today are
interfaith—it's even difficult to find a rabbi who will conduct a
ceremony. In the American Jewish community, "there are few people
who are comfortable writing about it in a nonjudgmental, helpful
way," says Stuart Matlins, publisher at Jewish Lights, which has
published two recent books on interfaith marriage and family.
"People in positions of authority within the Jewish community do not
want to appear to be encouraging it."
Mary Helene Rosenbaum,
executive director of Dovetail Institute for Interfaith Family
Resources and a practicing Catholic married for 40 years to a
professor of Judaic studies, puts it more bluntly. "I can't tell you
how many times some bright young program director will call and book
us, and when the plan to invite us percolates up, this person is
going to call back and say, 'They don't want you,' " she says.
(Rosenbaum said Dovetail is "radioactive" in the Jewish community
because it does not push intermarrying couples toward the
raise-your-kids-Jewish option.) The organization has a publishing
arm offering such titles as The Interfaith Family Guidebook:
Practical Advice for Jewish and Christian Partners (1998) by
organization founder Joan Hawxhurst.
The state of publishing
on this topic reflects this climate: a few books emerge each season,
and the best live on as backlist resources. Publishers and authors
know they are meeting a perennial, unsanctioned and growing need.
Rev. Susanna Stefanachi Macomb, author of Joining Hands and
Hearts: Interfaith, Intercultural Wedding Celebrations—A Practical
Guide for Couples (Fireside, Jan.) gets calls from couples and
clergy all over the world. "I got a phone call from a rabbi in Costa
Rica. He was doing a wedding for a friend's daughter who was
marrying a Muslim, and he wanted to know how to incorporate Muslim
elements into the ceremony," says Macomb.
Her book stakes out
this cutting edge, going beyond Jewish-Christian relationships to
address the new unions of traditions, cultures and religions now
being forged by people in their 20s and 30s. A licensed and ordained
interfaith minister since 1996, Macomb has performed weddings in one
of the country's multicultural epicenters, New York City. She had
three publishers bid in a week's time on the book, her first, done
in collaboration with writer Andrea Thompson. The book is intended
for both couples and clergy, with a questionnaire for the couple,
chapters on ceremonies and customs from a range of religions and
cultures, and the stories of and ceremonies designed by eight
Marcia Burch, v-p and director of publicity at
Fireside, hopes the book will be prominently featured among the
wedding books stores will highlight come spring. Since the market
includes not just couples but also clergy, publicity is being aimed
at religion publications and seminaries as well. Macomb has been
speaking on the topic at seminaries and running out of books at
those engagements, "whether we bring 20, 30 or 40," she
Making a Successful Jewish Interfaith Marriage by
Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky with Joan Peterson Littman (Jewish Lights,
Feb.) focuses on intermarriage from a Jewish perspective, offering
what is billed as "straightforward and nonjudgmental advice."
Olitzky, executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute and a
prolific author, maintains that intermarriage offers an opportunity
to increase the Jewish population if more intermarried couples are
welcomed and encouraged to raise their children in Judaism. Between
two-thirds and three-quarters of such intermarried households don't
choose that for their children. In the same vein, Jewish Lights also
published The Guide to Jewish Interfaith Family Life: An
Interfaithfamily.com Handbook, edited by Ronnie Friedland and Edmund
Case (2001), drawn from the titular Web site of resources for
intermarried Jewish families.
Within American Christianity,
interchurch marriages crossing denominational lines are also common
and under-acknowledged. United in Heart, Divide in Faith: A Guide
for Catholic-Protestant Couples (SunCreek, Apr.) by Sandra L.
Stanko, a partner in a mixed-Christian marriage, addresses that
phenomenon, targeting couples beginning relationships in addition to
those committed enough to plan marriage. SunCreek is an ecumenical
Christian imprint of Texas-based Catholic publisher Thomas More.
"There was a need for resources for those couples from both
perspectives," says SunCreek acquisitions and marketing director
Debra Hampton. The book will be distributed in both the CBA and
general markets. One major chain buyer told her, " "There's nothing
quite like this on the market," Hampton reports.
projections show this niche growing as the country's ethnic and
religious diversity offers more chances for relationship partners to
cross paths, cultures and faiths in new ways. Author Macomb sees
this mixing as a norm among the young people she marries, who are so
used to cultural and religious variety they don't even begin to
consider a potential for conflict. "When they're young and you talk
about conflict in terms of religion and race," she says, "they look
at you as if you're Martian."
Marcia Z. Nelson – 3/24/2003
Special Report > Religion
in the U.K.
Hands and Hearts; Interfaith, Intercultural Wedding
Stefanachi Macomb collected so much material on interfaith and intercultural wedding
celebrations that it could easily have filed a book double the size
of the present one. The text was edited by Andrea Thompson
helping her to trim it down to some 300 pages. The book is
not only a very valuable source of information and practical
guide for couples and clergy but is a must for interfaith ministers
was ordained after studying with the New Seminary writes that 'the
beloved Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, an iconoclast of a man, has been my
practical and spiritual teacher'. She has officiated at
hundreds of wedding ceremonies because her approach really fulfilled
a need in the intercultural environment of New York City. She
gives some figures indicating that, depending on the particular
church, one-third to two-thirds of marriages are now
interfaith. She has been featured in several wedding magazine
articles and on TV.
first chapter is titled: 'What is Interfaith? A Philosophy of the
Heart' and she answers that 'the teachings of the
founders of the world's great religions - the words of Moses, Jesus,
Muhammad, Lao Tzu, Buddha - are essentially universal.' This
message is encapsulated in a few lines of a poem she
is one, but his names are many. Religion is one, but its
ways are many.
mentions that she grew up in a 'traditional Catholic family' but,
corresponding very much with my own experience, she writes: 'It is
through the discipline and practice of Hindu meditation that I have
had the mystical experience of God, known as samadhi.... I have been
meditating daily for fifteen years. The practice of meditation
... has not only profoundly affected my life, but transformed
it.' I can only add a profound Amen to that.
experience gave her the insight to expand upon a saying of Gandhi:
'.... that in some way I am Christian, I am Jewish, I am Muslim, I
am Hindu, I am Buddhist, I am Taoist, I am Sufi, I am Native
American.' She states that an 'interfaith or intercultural
marriage to me represents one of our universal best hopes of moving
toward a promised land, where people of all religions, creeds and
colors live side by side, hand in hand, honoring and celebrating
both their uniqueness and their commonality.... This is our hope for
next chapters are dedicated to customize the event to a specific
couple using an extensive questionnaire. She goes into the
practicalities of family matters and rehearsal, while technicalities
like not throwing rice because it can harm birds, use of microphone
and music are not forgotten. The licensing details are of
course geared to her local US situation. Subsequently the
ceremony is covered in much detail, some of which is optional and
decided upon in close consultation with couple and family.
an admirer of Tolstoy, Gandhi and Fritz Schumacher, this Buddhist
quotation appealed very much to me:
them be fervent, upright, and sincere, without conceit of self,
easily contented and joyous, free of cares, let them not be
submerged by the things of the world; let them not take upon
themselves the burden of worldly goods; let their senses be
controlled; let them be wise but not puffed up, and let them not
desire great possessions even for their families.
the same spirit she quotes the Dalai Lama: 'There is no need for
temples; no need for complicated philosophy. My own brain, my
own heart is my temple; the philosophy is kindness.'
because also Jesus declares that his Kingdom is not of this world, I
would like to ask you to keep these essential messages in mind if
you are pondering a Rolls Royce or expensive city centre hotel
II of the book is written as a Manual covering wedding rituals and
traditions in different cultures. First she quotes many
universal passages suitable for almost any wedding. Then for
fourteen different religious traditions, ranging from Baha'i via
Confucianism, Native American to Zoroastrianism, she gives a summary
of its teachings followed by many specific quotations. Then
she moves on to the cultural heritage of traditions as far apart as
Afghani, Chinese, Irish, Latvian, Russian and Swiss. This
collection covers forty seven different traditions filling thirty
pages. From it I learned that 'Lavender in the bride's
bouquet is said by the Dutch to bring good luck." I checked
this with my 96 years old mother, but she did not remember that
tradition at all. Probably it is a custom still kept by early
Dutch colonists of the New World, but forgotten in their home
III gives eight interfaith, intercultural wedding ceremonies in all
their details, while in an Epilogue she refers to the shock of
living at ground zero and witnessing from nearby the events of
September 2001. She concludes that 'Interfaith dialogue
is now needed more than ever' and adds: 'Throughout this book I have
said that interfaith, intercultural and interracial unions embody
the meaning of respect, tolerance and understanding. We can
learn from them.' Elsewhere she quotes from the Hadith,
the words of Muhammad:
I not inform you of a better act than fasting, alms, and prayer?
peace between one another:
and malice tear up heaven's rewards by the roots.
also from the magnificent dream of Martin Luther King: "all of God's
children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestant and
Catholics will be able to join hands." On the
penultimate page she quotes that great peace activist
effort should never be to undermine another's faith
to make him a better follower of his own faith.
dedicates the book 'to all couples and their families who have given
me the privilege of walking by their sides. It has been a
sacred walking.' She welcomes interfaith, intercultural,
interracial love stories and ceremonies for future editions
of Joining Hands and Hearts. So 'if you do decide “to
share your spirits and your love”, contact her via:
www.interfaithweddingceremony.com or at: www.susannamacomb.com
only do I recommend this book very much to anyone of you who plans
to officiate at interfaith wedding ceremonies, but also as a
testimony to a life changed by a regular meditation
practice. In her own words: 'By the grace of God, I have
book was not available via the bookshops I checked upon, but can be
ordered from Amazon for £ 8.69.
15 June 2003
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Hearts please click below. Macomb is now busy working on her
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