Linda Hirschhorn
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Wedding Celebrant

Same-Sex Marriages

You are Both (Wo)Men

The day your heart has so long dreamed of is now arriving: You are marrying your beloved, and you want to share your joy with your closest friends and family. It's time to plan the ceremony. One or both of you are Jewish. Your local Rabbi or the Cantor you grew up with may refuse to officiate at the ceremony. Your parents may be concerned, perhaps even disapproving. So whom should you turn to?

I am the celebrant you've been searching for. Having worked with same-gender and|or interfaith couples for over 17 years, I understand the issues involved. My goal is not only to help you create the wedding of your dreams, filled with personal meaning and memories, but also to reach out to your families and friends, who will become part of your new family circle.

Creative and Personal

In your wedding, I ensure that each of you feels well represented. The special values that each of you most cherishes can be expressed through poetry, readings and songs. Your core beliefs will be reflected in my words to you. The weddings I perform are personal, intimate, and suffused with a gentle humor.

Each wedding ceremony, while using many of the traditional elements of a Jewish ceremony, is unique to the couple that comes to me. When you hire a cantor as your wedding officiant, you get two for one: someone who can provide music as well as perform the rituals that you choose for your perfect ceremony. I can set your favorite poem to music and perform it at any appropriate time between or during the rituals. Here are some sample clips of songs from previous wedding ceremonies:

Listen to a sample of Camarada: mp4

Listen to a sample of Circle Chant: mp4

Listen to a sample of Full Circle: mp4

You may choose to use Hebrew during your wedding ceremony or have it performed entirely in English. If you find that some of the traditional religious formulations don't really speak to your hearts, I can offer you contemporary forms of blessings that might conform better to your modern-day beliefs. For instance, the blessing over wine could be the traditional בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן   "Borey pri hagafen", or "We give thanks to the source of life for creating the fruit of the vine," or "We bless this celebration with the fruit of the vine."

The Way I Work

Getting to know a couple beforehand is very important to me. To that end, I like to have an initial meeting to see if we are a good match. If we are, then I try to meet with you as many times as we can fit into our schedules, and I try to find out as much about you as I can. What is it that brings the two of you together? What is unique about your connection? How did you meet? What are some of the things that you share and enjoy doing together? The more that I get to know you, the more authentic and heartfelt will be the words that I say to you during your wedding ceremony.

If you live outside Northern California, we can correspond by e-mail and telephone. I have had clients from as far away as Georgia, Texas, Arizona, and New York.

Welcoming Your Guests

Many elements of Jewish ritual carry universal meanings that will resonate with all your guests. This will not only make your guests feel welcome, but allow them to feel like an essential part of the ceremony. By virtue of their presence their role is not only to celebrate with you, but to be your witnesses and to bestow blessings upon you. If you wish, I can invite your friends and family to participate in the ceremony by having them read or sing poems, songs, or other texts that are meaningful to them, either of their own choosing or provided by me.

A Sample Ceremony

Here are some of the elements that you might choose as part of your ceremony. In addition, you may want to include traditions from other cultures that you are connected with, such as 'jumping the broom' or lighting a Unity Candle, etc.

  • Processional - to music of your own choosing, perhaps written by me
  • Chuppah - the wedding canopy
  • Circling - going around each other seven times
  • Kiddush - the blessing over wine
  • Story - I or someone else telling a little bit about you
  • Ketubah - signing and displaying the prenuptial contract
  • Vows - traditional vows or personal ones you write yourselves or suggested by me
  • Ring Exchange
  • Seven Blessings - traditional or completely creative, some perhaps recited by friends and family
  • Proclamation - presenting the married couple
  • Breaking the Glass - by one or both of you


About Cantor
Linda Hirschhorn

I have been performing creative customized wedding ceremonies since 1989. My parallel careers as a cantor, marriage counselor, songwriter, musical director, and performer not only give me all the skills necessary to plan and perform your wedding, but give me a uniquely all-embracing viewpoint of all the elements that go into a wedding to ensure that your ceremony will be both successful and truly extraordinary.

I have been working as a cantor for over 25 years and have held my current position at Temple Beth Sholom in San Leandro for 17 years, where in addition to my regular cantorial duties, I train bar- and bat-mitzvah students and conduct the chorus and orchestra, for which I also compose and arrange music.

Through my practice as a marriage and family counselor in California since 1974, I have acquired a wealth of experience which has often proved invaluable in dealing with any premarital issues that may arise during the planning of wedding ceremonies.

In addition, I direct the internationally renowned women's a cappella quintet Vocolot and have a long career as a singer-songwriter. To date, I have released seven recordings and two songbooks of original compositions and arrangements.


You can reach me by telephone at 510.654.0799 or by e-mail at


Through long experience I am aware of all the details and elements that go into the planning of a wedding ceremony. I can review these with you. On the day of the wedding I oversee the logistics with your wedding coordinator so that you don't have to and the the ceremony goes as smoothly as you can imagine.


I charge a flat fee that includes everything that we do together: all the meetings, creating your ceremony, and actually performing your wedding ceremony. It doesn't matter how often we meet or for how long. Everything is covered in the onetime fee. This fee is negotiable and on a sliding scale based on your personal circumstances.




"She was AWESOME. ... I love the song (her own composition) that she sang for the circling ritual. ... She totally rocked."

- Lythande (

"You made our wedding absolutely perfect. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You pulled it all together in such a heartfelt way."

- Linda and Paul

"Beautiful Linda: Thank you so much for an incredibly enlightened, lovely, open, connecting, loving, conscious ceremony and ritual. We truly appreciate your giving and presence."

- Rachel, mother of the bride

"If I'd known my wedding would be so much fun, I would have done it a long time ago. Our ceremony was such a wonderful combination of so many things: the personal and the traditional, the out-going and the introspective, the comic and the poignant. We are deeply thankful for your guidance, insight and open-mindedness. And then there was your conduct of the ceremony, your moving and appropriate words, your beautiful voice raised in song, all creating the sense that we were all participating in something larger than ourselves. Many many people told us that this was the best wedding they had ever attended. It was definitely the best that I ever attended. How wonderful that it should be my own."

- Craig (of Craig and Stacey)

"Thank you so much for the wonderful job you did at our wedding ceremony. Everything came together so well and we really appreciate how you helped us create a meaningful and personal ceremony. Thanks for all your advice along the way."

- Sam and Charlie

"When we first met you, we immediately liked your style and your desire to get to know us so that our ceremony was personable. You couldn't have done a better job - it was just what we had envisioned. We received so many compliments from our friends about how wonderful they thought the ceremony was and how beautiful your voice sounded in the courtyard. Many people said it was the most beautiful wedding that they had ever been to. Thank you for the care you showed in preparing us for this day, and for the time you took to get to know us."

- Debra and Kevin

"Our wedding was a memorable event in so many ways - with your invaluable direction, Craig and I created a very personal, poignant and unique ceremony. Your particular outlook and philosophy, your leadership and encouragement set us on a path we would not have otherwise taken in developing that ceremony that we worked hard to make our own. I was riveted on every eloquent word you spoke and on every lyric you sang and on every blessing you chanted."

- Stacey (of Stacey and Craig)

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