The family has always been the foundation of Jewish life. We can survive without a synagogue, but not without our family structures. Each new Jewish home is created at the wedding, which sets the tone for the young couple’s future. Heritage Russian Jewish Congregation can help you to organize and our Rabbi will conduct your ceremony. Many details have to be discussed to ensure that your wedding is joyous and authentic. Please contact our office to help you to arrange a wedding.
Bellow is a short overview of the wise and moving customs of traditional Jewish weddings
Greeting the Couple (Kabolas Panim)
Before the wedding, the bride and groom receive guests in two separate rooms. The bride sits on a throne, surrounded by her mother, future mother-in-law, friends and relatives. In the groom’s the legal marriage documents are prepared and signed.
The central document is the kesuba, the marriage contract. It describes the wedding date and place, the couple’s names, and the groom’s responsibilities to support his future wife and to make their future life happy. The groom and two legally valid witnesses sign the kesuba.
The preliminary betrothal document (tenaim) is read aloud. Thereafter, the couple’s mothers break a plate as a reminder that even our greatest joy is incomplete while our Temple lies in ruins and most of the Jewish nation is dispersed around the world.
Veiling of the Bride (Badeken)
The groom is then accompanied by the men and music as he approaches the bride in her room. He sees her (often for the first time in a week, which can seem like an eternity to a young couple!) and covers her face with a veil. This veiling, which has Biblical roots, creates an atmosphere of privacy and modesty around the bride. As the Talmud says, “The honor of the King’s daughter is within.”
The couple’s fathers then bless the bride. The guests then move to the chupah hall where they will be joined by the groom and bride.
Chuppa (Bridal Canopy)
The chupah, bridal canopy, symbolizes the couple’s new Jewish home. The groom enters the chupah first, accompanied by his parents, preparing to welcome his future wife into his “home”.
As the bride wears a white dress, the groom dons a kittel, a white robe, symbolizing the couple’s spiritual purity on this special day. The wedding day is the brightest day of their life, and is compared to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), wherein they start life anew, with a clean slate, since they are becoming a new entity, without past sins.
The groom invites the bride into his “home”. She encircles him seven times, symbolically enclosing their home, protecting it from outside harm and illuminating it with warmth and love. Once they are assembled under the chupah, the sanctification (kiddushin) takes place.
A blessing is said over wine, and a blessing that praises and thanks God for giving us the laws that preserve the sanctity of family life and the Jewish people. The groom then places a ring on the bride’s right index finger, and declares aloud, before two witnesses, “Behold, you are sanctified to me with this ring according to the laws of Moshe and Israel.”
The kesuba, marriage contract, is then read aloud, after which it is given to the bride. The accepting of responsibilities (nisuin) is accompanied by the reciting of seven blessings (sheva brochos). The couple drinks from another cup of wine, and the groom breaks a glass by stamping on it, again reminding us of Jerusalem and Israel. All the guests then surround the newlyweds and wish them “Mazel Tov!”
The final aspect of the wedding ceremony is the couple’s seclusion after the chupah. Since Jewish law forbids unmarried couples to be alone in a private place together, the seclusion on their wedding day demonstrates their new status as husband and wife. The Wedding Celebration/ Festive Meal
One who hasn’t participated in a traditional Jewish wedding celebration has missed true celebration. The newlyweds enter the hall, accompanied by music, and their guests immediately rush to dance around the bride and groom. In keeping with Jewish laws of modesty, men and women form two dancing circles. Everybody focuses on bringing joy to the newlyweds, an important commandment (mitzvah) for all Jews. A festive meal is served, followed by the Grace after Meals and repetition of the seven blessings.
Every wedding is just a beginning. Even the most elaborate weddings don’t guarantee a happy marriage. The couple is a seed that requires careful tending to grow to be a fruitful tree. The success of a marriage depends on the commitment of both sides to build a truly happy, respectful Jewish home.