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Jewish Wedding Traditions

Israel Jewish Weddings
By: Wedding Connections

According to the Talmud, even the greatest sages used to interrupt their study of Torah in order to accompany a bride and groom to the Chuppah.

A Bride begins her transition from single to married life by taking a ritualistic bath.

This tradition began in the Middle Ages when a couple would wed outdoors so that the marriage could be blessed with as many children as there are stars in the heavens.

The Aufruf

The Aufruf means "calling up" of the groom and congregation to the Torah. The wedding festivities commence on a Shabbat morning service at Temple led by a Rabbi. Traditionally, a groom was given the honor of an aliyah (the recitation of the blessings before and after the Torah reading) on the Shabbat before his wedding.

The Ketubah

A ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract, is accepted contract for the obligations articulated in a the marriage. The ketubah developed some two thousand years ago in order to protect the bride by specifying the groom's marital and financial obligations. Have a ketubah designed by an artisan, modeled after any of the various medieval Hebrew manuscripts. A hand crafted ketubah is based upon the traditional Aramaic text, but supplement it with a contemporary, egalitarian perspective, add a quote from an ancient Elephantine marriage contract or several medieval Hebrew poems.

The Chuppah

The Jewish wedding ceremony takes place under a canopy, called a Chuppah. Chuppah symbolizes the home the bride and groom will build together. Open on all sides, it also conveys a sense of hospitality, a core Jewish value since the days of our biblical ancestors. A simply made Chuppah can be made by sewing together two prayer shawls (each called a tallit).

The Ceremony

The Jewish wedding combines two originally separate parts: erusin or kiddushin (betrothal) and nissuin (nuptials).

The ceremony begins with the lighting of candles, a Sephardic Jewish custom that reflects the association between light and celebration.

  • The ceremony contains several main components:
  • The reciting of the betrothal blessing and the first cup of wine,
  • The reading of the ketubah, the chanting of the sheva berachot (seven wedding blessings)
  • The second cup of wine,
  • The exchange of rings, and
  • The breaking of the glass.

The second cup of wine, celebrates the union as bride and groom. The second blessing over the wine is part of the seven wedding blessings, which thank God for creating the universe, human beings, and marriage. The blessings emphasize the joy of the marriage day, as in the seventh blessing which praises God for creating joy and gladness, bridegroom and bride, delight and cheer, pleasure and delight, love and harmony, peace and friendship.

The giving of a ring by the groom and the acceptance by the bride constitute the central act of kiddushin, or betrothal. Both exchange rings and recite the traditional marriage formula, stating that they are consecrated to one another according to the tradition of Moses and Israel. The rings will be placed on the index fingers. Some believe this custom developed so the witnesses could easily see that the bride had accepted the ring; others more romantically explain the index finger is directly connected to the heart.

After a moment of silent prayer, the Rabbi will wrap them in a tallit and recite the Priestly Blessing. The ceremony will conclude with the breaking of the glass, a custom invested with numerous interpretations. The broken glass symbolizes the destruction of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, a reminder of our people's losses even at this moment of personal joy. The shattered glass also makes us aware of the delicate nature of human relationships and the fragility of our lives. After the ceremony, shouts of "good luck"or "Mazel Tov!" can be heard from the joyous celebrants.

Following the ceremony, they share a few moments of seclusion, called yihud. Then, they will join everyone for the seudat nissuin, the wedding feast. According to Jewish law, it is a mitzvah (a commandment and a good deed) to rejoice with the bride and groom, and then look forward to dancing, feasting, and celebrating together.

The hora, is a traditional dance of celebration, and is performed at the reception.

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November 25, 2014


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