Jewish Weddings

Feb 1 10:19 2009 sarah james Print This Article

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It was common,Guest Posting in the past, for Jewish marriages to be arranged by the parents, with the help of a match-maker, known as a Yenta, and in some Orthodox communities this practice is still carried out. Even though the union was arranged, the groom still had to ask the father of the bride-to-be for his daughter's hand in marriage.

A  wedding is one of the cornerstones of the Jewish life cycle and as with all religions, is a great cause for celebration. Although there are many laws and traditions associated with the wedding itself, there are other rituals which take place in the weeks leading up to the big day.

These rituals  begin as soon as a couple are engaged, with a ceremony known as tena'im. It involves breaking a plate to symbolise the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, as a reminder that even in the midst of celebration Jews still feel sadness for their loss. This is a theme that is repeated at the ceremony  itself with the breaking of the glass.

A Jewish wedding can be held on any day of the week apart from during the Sabbath, which runs from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday, or on major Jewish festivals such as the Day of Atonement or Jewish New Year (when Jews are required to refrain from work).  Sunday is the most popular day for Jewish weddings to be held in the UK. In countries such as the US where evening weddings are popular it is also common for weddings to be held on Saturday night after the Sabbath (this is more popular in the winter when Sabbath ends early  Some couples choose to hold  their wedding on a weekday and this is quite common with those who are  ultra orthodox.

A Jewish wedding can take place any time of the year but many couples avoid the period between the festivals of Pesach (Passover) and Shavout which is a time for reflection in the calendar. Also as many people refrain from attending parties involving music and dancing during this period, it is not considered to be a good time to hold a wedding.

Jews are traditionally married underneath a special canopy known as a chupa, which symbolises the home that the couple will share. The ceremony used to take place out of doors but nowadays, it is more common for the ceremony to be held indoors to avoid any problems with the weather.  More often than not the ceremony takes place in a synagogue, but there is no rule saying that it must be held in a synagogue - as long as the chupa is present and the ceremony is under a rabbi's supervision it can be held anywhere These days, in common with weddings of other faiths, it is increasingly common to hold Jewish weddings in hotels and other venues.

There is no actual traditional dress for a Jewish wedding and the men  will often wear black tie or morning suit while the women usually wear a traditional wedding dress.  There is no specific traditional dress for a Jewish wedding. An orthodox bride will wear a more modest dress.

It is traditional for the bride and groom to fast on the day of the wedding itself as a symbolic statement. Just as they fast on Yom Kippur - the Day Of Atonement - to cleanse themselves of their sins and start afresh they also fast on their wedding day to cleanse themselves of sin and come to their marriage with a clean slate.

The ceremony has to be under a rabbi's supervision - since they will be familiar with all the laws and customs of the wedding,  it does not necessarily have to be performed by a rabbi, as long as one is present. Most couples opt to have a rabbi conduct the ceremony, although it can be performed by a friend or family member, provided they have the permission of a rabbi.

The ceremony itself begins with the signing of the Ketubah - the Jewish marriage contract which sets out the legal terms of the marriage. The origins of the Ketubah go back to the days of the Sanhedrin  (the Jewish Supreme Court)  in Jerusalem a few thousand years ago in order to protect the bride by the terms of her dowry.

The signing is done in the presence of four witnesses and the rabbi  prior to the main ceremony. During the signing of the Ketubah, many men will sign an agreement saying that they will not contest a Get (Jewish divorce) in the event of the couple separating. This is significant in that for a Jewish woman whose husband refuses to give her a Get she will be unable to divorce.

This is accompanied by a ceremony known as Bedecken (veiling), in which the bridegroom places the veil over the bride's face. This symbolises the groom's intent to clothe and protect his wife, and dates back to Biblical times, when Rebekah covered her face before she married Abraham's son Isaac.

 

There is no rule as to what music can and cannot be played during the ceremony, although many couples feel uncomfortable playing music by Wagner (such as The Wedding March) due to his anti-Semitic viewpoints and popularity with Germany's Nazi party during the 1930s and 1940s. Most couples opt for traditional Jewish music to be played during the entrance of the bride and after the service - much of this is centuries old.

There is also no firm rule about who escorts the bride to the Chupa, but traditionally it is the bride's father who accompanies her (sometimes both parents will do so). The bride is the last person to enter, and upon reaching the Chupa will walk round the bridegroom several times - this number varies. Some brides walk around their husband-to-be once while more Orthodox brides walk round seven times.

There is no rule as to what music can and cannot be played during the ceremony, although many couples feel uncomfortable playing music by Wagner (such as The Wedding March) due to his anti-Semitic viewpoints and popularity with Germany's Nazi party during the 1930s and 1940s. Most couples opt for traditional Jewish music to be played during the entrance of the bride and after the service - much of this is centuries old.

Although there is no rule about who escorts the bride to the Chupa, it is traditionally the bride's father who accompanies her (sometimes both parents will do so). The bride is the last person to enter, and upon reaching the Chupa will walk round the bridegroom several times. Some brides walk around their husband-to-be once while more Orthodox brides walk round seven times.

During the service, the bride and groom drink the first of the seven cups of wine, and several prayers are said binding the couple together. One of the most important parts is the giving of the ring. The ring itself must belong to the groom. It must not be borrowed. and must be a complete circle without a break, to emphasise the hope for a harmonious marriage. It must be a plain band with no stones or decorations.  As with other religions, the ring is held by the best man until it is time for the groom to give it to the bride. When the groom gives the bride the ring he recites the following verse:

Behold you are consecrated to me with this ring according to the laws of Moses and Israel.

The ceremony ends with the the groom breaking a glass, which is also linked to remembering the destruction of the Temples. Once the glass is broken, everyone will convey their congratulations to the couple.

 

 

 

 

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About Article Author

sarah james
sarah james

I have been in the bridal industry for ten years and run a high street and an online bridal accessory shop

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