The Jewish wedding

We know the traditional wedding. But what are the rites and practices in other cultures when it comes to weddings? This time we look at the Jewish wedding. The Jewish wedding knows many religious practices. These traditions symbolize the intense beauty the wedding couple represent and see in each other. Many rites and traditions that the Western world has, find their origin in Judaism. 

Finding the right partner

Within the Jewish community it's customary that the family of the groom starts searching for a suitable partner for their son. Often this search starts by looking at friends and acquaintances of the family to see if they know of a suitable unmarried woman. This woman is not chosen lightly or at random, the Jewish community feels there has to be chemistry between the two and they really have to fit together. Besides this, the woman must have been raised well and enjoy a good reputation. In these modern times the decision is more often left to the groom himself. He will find that ideal partner to marry.

When a suitable partner is found, the families will be introduced to one another. The woman's family will test her future partner, mainly on his knowledge of the Thora (Jewish bible). For the woman, the in-laws will mainly look at her skills and her chastity. However, these are side issues, the family values the most that the two of them really like each other and are suitable to get married to each other out of love.

Engagement

When the couple officially decides they want to get married, some communities will have a reception to announce the wedding. On this reception everyone can get to know the couple. To complete the engagement and according tradition, a plate is broken. Symbolicly speaking the plate can still be glued, so if the coupe in the end decides not to get married, they have a way out. In some Jewish communities a contract is signed for the engagement  in which the date of the wedding is put. For this two witnesses are present to give their blessing to the couple. Often an exchange of possessions takes place to illustrate the validity of the wedding. Often this is a scarf or a towel.

Celebrations for the groom

Before the wedding, the family organizes a meeting in the synagogue in the city of the groom, also known as a Sabbath. The present women throw sweets to the groom-to-be, like raisins, almonds and candy. On the Sabbath for the planned wedding ceremony another meeting takes place.

The wedding day

According to Jewish faith it's not allowed to wed on the Sabbath or another holiday. The wedding ceremony usually takes place in a synagogue under a baldachin or a chuppah. The chuppah is usually preferred by orthodox Jews and is a sort of tent with four poles draped with a cloth and decorated with flowers. According to tradition this will provide extra protection and presence of God.

chuppah-choepa

Jewish rituals

The Jewish wedding comes with a lot of symbols and traditions. On the wedding day the groom wears a kittel, a white linen robe worn over his regular clothes. For orthodox Jews, raising the veil of the woman is an important ritual. This is done to see if the hair of the bride is real. Besides this, the Jewish wedding knows a ritual where the bride, her mother and her mother-in-law walk seven times around her new husband. This symbolizes the seven days in which God created the universe. In other communities it's customary that the husband walks two times around the woman, after which they together walk a final round as a symbol of unity.

The rings of the wedding couple should be simple without too much fuss, to show the simple and pure beauty of love. The groom puts the ring around the bride's finger on her right hand, under the chuppah. The bride gives the ring only afterwards, and not under the chuppah.

In a Jewish wedding the groom is obligated to take on all responsibilities that marriage entails. This so-called marital contract is also called a Ketubah. The groom has to put food on the table, provide clothing and emotional care. This Ketubah is given to the bride after the wedding. 

Breaking the glass

Maybe the most important tradition of the wedding; the breaking of a glass. The groom must break a glass or glass object by stepping with his foot on this glass object which is wrapped in a piece of cloth and lies on the ground. This symbolizes the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem. The broken glass can not be glued or repaired and therefore the wedding can not be undone anymore. This is linked to the plate that, before the wedding, was already broken. After the glass breaks, all present guests yell Mazzeltov! This signals the end of the wedding ceremony.

After the wedding the fresh husband and wife recede in a small room, to show that now they're really married. Often a meal is served, since Jews have to fast from the morning of the wedding until just after the wedding ceremony. This is known as the Jichud.

After the ceremony all guests need to bring joy and happiness to the bridal couple by having a party, also known as the Seuda. Jewish music will play and a lot of traditional dancing takes place. Also traditional food is served where now everyone can join in. In orthodox weddings women sometimes dance separately from the men. During the party seven blessings are given to the husband and wife, for a long and happy life together.







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