Jewish Wedding Ceremony Customs & Traditions
In a Jewish wedding ceremony, the wedding ring of gold represents the unending love and eternal joy a marriage will bring. It is customary to place the ring on the index finger during the exchange. One ancient belief is that the index finger is directly connected by a special artery to the heart and so the couple’s hearts are joined.
The chuppah is a canopy, usually a decorated piece of cloth, that symbolizes the home the bride and groom will build together. The chuppah, in a Jewish wedding ceremony, is open on all sides, also symbolizing that friends and family are always welcome in the newlywed’s home.
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DIY Jewish Wedding Glass Ideas
Any glass may be used for the Jewish wedding glass, although most couples choose a special glass to be broken and kept. It is commonly wrapped in a cloth napkin (to avoid dangerous glass shards) or enclosed in a pre-made cloth pouch. A “do it yourself” option is to purchase a single colored glass goblet to be used in the breaking glass Jewish wedding tradition. Look for a unique glass at a vintage or used thrift store. If you are planning on keeping the glass shards from the breaking glass consider colored glass instead of clear, especially if you plan to do a craft project with them later. Make certain the glass you choose is not too thick. It needs to be easily broken when stepped on! For this reason, stay away from heavy lead crystal goblets.
The Jewish wedding glass pouch can be a simple rectangle of fabric that you sew around the glass, much like a pillowcase. Close the third end with ribbon or sew it shut. Choose fabric that matches your jewish wedding colors. Thicker fabrics such as velvet work well, but thinner fabrics can be doubled up. You don’t want them too thin or the glass shards will easily rip through it.
Jewish Wedding Traditions
In Jewish wedding traditions, a Jewish bride presents her groom with a tallit to wear for his Aufruf, the reading of the Torah prior to their Jewish wedding ceremony. The groom's family often gives candlesticks to the jewish bride that can be used during the actual Jewish wedding ceremony. It is also a Jewish wedding custom for Jewish men to cover their heads at all times, especially during prayers, with a kippot (yarmulkes), as a form of reverence, respect, and acknowledgement that God is present everywhere. In some congregations, jewish women also cover their heads to pray.
The bedeken, or veiling, is a small ceremony in which the Groom lowers the veil over the Bride's face and by this act acknowledges that he is marrying the correct woman. This custom originated in the story of Jacob who didn't see the face of his bride prior to his wedding and was tricked into marrying Leah instead of his intended, Rachel. The Jewish wedding ceremony consists of two parts: Erusin (pre-engagement) and Nissuin (marriage). These ceremonies were historically performed up to one year apart, but more recently the two have been combined into one ceremony. The Eursin ceremony begins with Kiddush, the blessing over the wine. Kiddush is part of virtually all Jewish observances as a prayer of sanctification. The exchange of rings completes the Erusin ceremony. In Jewish law, a verbal declaration of marriage is not legally binding unless an act of Kinyan, a formal physical acquisition is completed. This is reached when two witnesses see the bride accept a ring from the groom, and he recites the words of marriage. After the ketubah has been read at the Jewish wedding ceremony, wine is often poured into a new glass, and the Sheva Berakhot (Seven Benedictions) are recited over it. The bride and groom then drink from the glass of wine. With the Jewish wedding ceremony complete, tradition calls for the groom to break the wrapped glass by stomping on it. This final action symbolizes the destruction of the Holy Temple in Israel, and reminds guests that love is fragile. The audience may shout Mazel Tov and the bride and groom kiss. Immediately after the Jewish wedding ceremony, the couple may spend a few private moments together, or Yichud as a symbolic consummation of their marriage. Later, the Mitzvah, or obligation, of rejoicing at a wedding reception is incumbent on the bride, groom, and wedding guests.
Good luck with your planning your New Jersey Jewish wedding . . . Mazel Tov!
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