Jewish Weddings: Where Customs Still Live

Jewish traditions are some of the oldest in the world. Their holidays are familiar even to people who don’t practice their beliefs. For the Jews, marriage is the ideal state of personal existence because a man without a wife and a woman without a husband are incomplete beings.

The Wedding

Traditionally, marriages are arranged by the parents but the consent of the bride is also considered. Jewish weddings can be held on any day of the week except during Jewish holidays. Jewish holidays include the Sabbath, the three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, Jewish festivals, Passover (see Passover Party Ideas), and Shavuot.

In the week before the wedding, the couple is not allowed to see each other. On the Sabbath day of that very same week, the future groom is called to read letters of the Torah. The couple is supposed to look up at the Torah as a guild for their marriage. There are more events that happen during the week before the wedding such as a party for the future bride and the showering of nuts and raisins upon the groom.

Before the actual wedding, the groom must go through an act called the “kinyan.” This act must be done in front of witnesses; the bridge and groom receive a handkerchief or something else from the Rabbi, lift it up, and then return it. After the act, the groom and the witnesses sign the Ketubah and the groom is brought by two relatives (both male) to the “Huppah.”

The bride is then led by both mothers and is usually accompanied by a chant of welcome from the Rabbi. The bride is circled around the groom seven times to get rid of evil spirits.

When the bride stops in front of the Rabbi, she stands on the groom’s right side and the Rabbi then blesses the marriage over a goblet of wine. The bride and groom must drink from this goblet before he puts the ring on the bride’s finger and reads aloud the marriage vows. The marriage contract (ketubah) is read and the seven benedictions are said out loud.

The ceremony ends with the groom crushing the glass using his right foot and the Rabbi blesses the couple and they are escorted away.

Things to Know

  • Huppah – This refers to the bride’s canopy or chamber. It consists of a cloth that is spread on four staves. The cloth can either be designed or it can be a large Talis.
  • The Ring – Though a few communities use coins, it has become a more common Jewish practice to use rings. The ring has to be free from stones and must belong to the groom. During the ceremony the groom gives the ring to the bride, reflecting an act of acquisition and the bride accepts it to become his wife.
  • Ketubah – This is the financial obligation the husband has to go through for his wife to show respect for their marriage. It is a document recording in Aramaic. This was made for the protection of the wife so that the husband can’t divorce her easily.

The Attire

The Jewish bride doesn’t have a particular costume that distinguishes her from the average bride. The only thing that Jewish brides have to keep in mind when planning their wedding gown is that is has to be white with a headdress and a veil. The bride’s attire also depends on where the bride is from because Jews from certain countries, like a place with an Oriental background, wear richly embroidered garments.

The grooms, on the other hand, sport a kittel with a tallit. A kittel is a traditional garment worn by Jewish men on special occasions and is first worn on their wedding day. This a simple white robe-like garment that is tied at the waist for a more distinct look. It is also worn as a burial shroud upon the death of the owner. For more information regarding this article, read The Guide To Jewish Weddings.

See how much fun a jewish wedding could be. Just watch the video below.

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