Traditions - One week before the wedding

Traditions One very unique tradition of a Jewish wedding is when the chatans mother and the mother of the kallan stand beside one another to break a plate. The sole purpose of this is to show the seriousness of the wedding and how its permanent. A broken plate can never be returned to its normal state as well as a crushed relationship could never be completely mended.

 

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A very special tradition and one of the most important moments of the ceremony is the veiling of the kallah. This is when the groom places a veil over his new brides face to show that he shall always cover and protect her. It symbolizes that no matter how beautiful she is on the outside its whats on the inside that counts most. Before the ceremony ends the groom will be responsible for giving his new bride a ring which will make the marriage official. It should be a blemish, stone free solid gold ring which means the marriage will be pure and of simple beauty. The ring will be placed on the brides hand by the groom has he recites his love and vowels in front of two witnesses. The bride may later give her new husband a ring to wear if she wishes but this is not allowed during the ceremony.

This is just a few simple ones but there are so many different traditions and factors that play throughout the whole ceremony. The beauty and grace of these weddings are extraordinary like no other.

Torah Honor to the Groom: It is customary to honor the bridegroom in synagogue by calling him up to the Torah on the Sabbath before the wedding. The rejoicing over the coming marriage formally begins then, with a reception (Kiddush) after services, hosted by his family.

Torah Honor to the Bride: The bride may be honored at a Sabbath afternoon women�s gathering, following the oyruf, which is known as the bride�s Sabbath. The guests honor her with stories about their friendship and thoughts about her upcoming marriage.

The Groom�s Visit to the Mikveh (Ritual Bath): To prepare themselves for one of the most important moments in their lives, some men go to the Mekvah and afterwards attend a male only party with friends.

The Bride�s Visit to the Mikveh (Ritual Bath): The brides and converts go to the Mikveh for the first time just before the wedding for ceremonial immersion and purification. A small party for the women in the family usually follows the bride's visit to the Mikveh.

Seclusion of the Bride: After she has visited the Mikveh, a traditional bride will not see or speak to her fianc�e until the actual wedding ceremony, which can be up to a week. This custom has helped many Jewish brides avoid the pre-wedding friction that can occur with their grooms and is also believed to bring good luck to the marriage.

The Jewish religion is monotheistic, for Jewish people believe that God, as revealed through Abraham, is the creator and sole ruler of the universe. The Old Testament of the Bible, particularly the first five books, constitute the Torah. The Torah, along with The Ten Commandments, which Moses received from God on Mount Sinai, emphasizes the ethical behavior Jews should have as true worshipers of God. Judaic laws cover almost every aspect of Jewish life.

Facts

1. Most popular months for Jewish weddings are April, June, October, December

2. 29% of the total world population of Jews lives in Israel, 45% in the United States and Canada, 10% in the Soviet Union and 8% in Europe.

 

The Stage

The Wedding Canopy: The wedding ceremony takes place under the chuppah (wedding canopy). The chuppah is usually made of velvet with embroidery and fringes. The chuppah is supported by four poles, which is optionally held during the ceremony by friends or relatives and symbolizes the new home that will be created by the couple. Under the chuppah is a table with two glasses and a bottle of kiddush wine. The Jewish tradition is that both sets of parents are bringing their children to be consecrated to each other under the chuppah

Traditions - Preliminary

Since Jews have moved to and from so many countries and have liberal to orthodox views, wedding customs differ. Though many traditional philosophies, prayers and viewpoints remain the same.

The purposes Jewish marriages are procreation, companionship, and the maintenance of family life. Traditionally the Jewish wedding starts with three methods of establishing the marriage. The first is a public signing of a legal marriage contract called ketubah. The ketubah is a document that sanctifies the rights and obligations of the bride and groom. It is signed by the groom and then given to the bride for safekeeping. In modern weddings the bride also signs the contract. The couple at the beginning or end of the ceremony can sign it. The document is often framed and displayed in the newlyweds' home.

The second method of establishing the Jewish marriage is for the groom to present the bride-to-be with an article of known value (the ring) which she accepts (kinyan). And the last tradition is for the two to spend ten or fifteen minutes together in seclusion or union (yihud)

Wedding Attire

The bride usually wears a white or cream wedding dress as a sign of purity and a veil over her head. The groom wears a skull cap, called a yarmulke, and a white prayer shawl, called a tallith, over a suit or formal attire By custom, all of the immediate relatives are part of the wedding party. The bride and groom are escorted down the aisle by their parents. To lead their children to the huppah is considered a parent�s highest joy. Their fathers and mothers escort both bride and groom. If there are grandparents, they are given a special place in the procession. Under the huppah the bride stands to the right of the groom. Under Orthodox custom, the bride may circle the groom seven times (representing the seven wedding blessings) before taking her place at his right. The number seven represents the idea of the seven heavens, the seven wedding blessings and the seven days of Creation. Symbolically, the bride is thought to be entering the seven spheres of her beloved�s soul. The circle created by the bride is regarded as the space the couple will now share, separate from parents.

The seven Jewish wedding blessings praise God for:
  1. Creating the fruit of the vine: the blessing over the wine, or kiddush
  2. Creating the earth and all that is in it
  3. Creating humanity
  4. Creating man and woman in God�s image
  5. The miracle of birth
  6. Bringing the bride and groom together to rejoice and live in harmony as did the first couple, Adam and Eve
  7. The joy of the bride and groom and the hope for a world that will one day be filled with the joy of lovers and the laughter of children

The rabbi begins the ceremony by reading the invocation. Then, the rabbi recites the betrothal benediction over a glass of wine, a symbol of sanctification in which the praise to the one God is voiced. The prayer is: We praise you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine. The bride and groom sip the wine. During most wedding ceremonies, the groom lifts the bride�s veil after he has tasted the wine.

After the introduction by the rabbi, the groom recites his wedding vow and gives the ring to the bride. The wedding vow he recites in Hebrew is: Thou art consecrated unto me with this ring as my wife, according to the law of Moses and Israel.

Traditionally the ring for the bride is a simple gold band without any engravings. This type of ring is used because it shows the true value and purity of the ring. At the ceremony the ring is placed on the bride's right index finger because it is the finger that points at the words when reading the Torah. Modern brides that follow this custom will sometimes switch the ring to the left hand after the ceremony.

Next the ketubbah is read aloud. This is followed by a reading of the seven wedding benedictions by various guests. During this reading the bride and groom sip their wine. The seven benedictions are as follows:

  1. Blessed art Thou, O lord our God, King of the Universe who hast created the fruit of the vine.
  2. Blessed art Thou, O lord our God, King of the Universe who has created all things for His glory.
  3. Blessed art Thou, O lord our God, King of the universe, creator of man.
  4. Blessed art Thou, O lord our God, King of the Universe who hast made man in his image, after his likeness, and hast prepared for him out of his very self, a perpetual fabric. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, creator of man.
  5. May she who was barren be exceedingly glad and rejoice when her children are united in her midst in joy. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makes Zion joyful through her children.
  6. O Lord, make these beloved companions greatly rejoice even as Thou didst rejoice at Thy creation in the Garden of Eden as of old. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makest bridegroom and bride to rejoice.
  7. Blessed art Thou, O lord our God, King of the Universe, who has created joy and gladness, bridegroom and bride, mirth and exultation, pleasure and delight, love, brotherhood, peace and fellowship. Soon may there be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of joy and gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the jubilant voice of the bridegrooms from the canopies, and of youths from their feasts of song. Blessed art Thou, O Lord who makest the bridegroom to rejoice with the bride.

When the reading is done, the groom smashes a glass with his foot. The breaking of the glass symbolizes the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem centuries ago. When the wedding ceremony has ended, the guests wish the couple mazel tov, meaning good luck.

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