The Traditional Jewish Wedding


The Traditional Jewish WeddingThe journey towards a Jewish wedding is a spiritual process. From the planning to the end of the wedding day you will experience many traditional rituals. These traditions bring the holiness that, in many weddings, disappears behind the cameraman and the makeup artist. The rituals date back to the beginning of Judaism. Although modernized, the Jewish Wedding is still widely practiced today. The kiddushin (wedding) consists of several preparatory factors that the chosson and kallah (bride and groom) as well as their families must perform. Unlike the Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, or Pakistani arrangements, the Jewish shidduch is not necessary. After being introduced by a family member or friend, the individuals have the right to determine whether they are compatible to one another. During their meetings physical contact is forbidden between the two in order to ensure that the decision is solely based on “intellect and emotion.” Once the agreement to marry has been established, the families of both participants hold a vort (small reception). During this time the arrangements for the wedding are discussed, including the date, location, and the responsibilities of both families. After the reception the bride and groom may meet several times under the supervision of an adult, but refrain from seeing each other during the week previous to the wedding in order to enlarge anticipation and excitement. At the wedding, the signing of the ketuvah takes place. The ketuvah is the marriage contract, which consists of the husband’s responsibilities such as providing his wife with clothing and food. At least two people must accompany the groom during the signing as witnesses. During the signing, light snacks and hard liquor are presented. Following the ketuvah, the husband veils the bride. By American tradition, it is a bad omen for the groom to see the wife before the wedding, but by Jewish law it is necessary in order to identify the wife before marriage. The ceremony takes place under the chuppah (canopy). The groom walks to the chuppah with his parents at his side, wearing a kittel (white robe). The white robe represents the start of a new life with a clean white state. The bride, accompanied by her parents, walks to the chuppah while the canter sings. She walks seven circles around the groom with her future in-laws while the groom prays. The number seven symbolizes the Jewish belief of “the seven days of creation.” The circles symbolize a protective light that will shine upon the household protecting it from harm. Once this is done, the Rabbi recites blessings over a glass of wine from which the bride and groom drink. With the stomp of his foot the groom breaks the glass and the ceremony comes to an end with roars of “Mazaltov” from the crowd. The married couple is taken into the cheder yichud, better known as “the room of privacy.” The time they spend in the room will be their first time alone together as well as their first moments as husband and wife. The couple decides the manner in which they use their time. Once they have spent enough time in the cheder yichud, the bride and groom are introduced as a married couple. After the first dance there is a mechitzah, or separation, between the women and men as a form of modesty. The party continues with the men in one room and the women in another. The Jewish wedding consists of rituals that have sacred meanings such as the breaking of the glass, the signing of the ketvuah etc. They have been carried out for as long as weddings have existed within the Jewish community. Although many of the rituals may seem spiritless, those who study the religion look upon it as a great event.