How Jews Get Married


Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


The Jewish Wedding Ceremony

Frequent movie fans will be well acquainted with the Christian wedding ceremony as the same story is repeated over and over again. These boring movies follow this prescription. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, reject each other after a loud argument, find each other a second time, get married by a Christin cleric, and live happily ever after. This moronic concoction is displayed so often that the wedding ceremony of the majority religion is well known in this country. Not so the Jewish wedding ceremony, which we may not welll remember even if we are married.

Therefore, here is a reminder of what takes place if two Jews marry one another.

According to Jewish custom, the bride and groom do not see each other for one week before they meet again at the wedding canopy known as a Chupa. The mothers of the bride and groom meet at this time and break a plate.

The second feature of a Jewish wedding carries the German word “bedecken,” which means “to cover.” The groom approaches the bride and covers her face with a veil. This act symbolizes the commitment of the groom to protect and support his wife. The veil is reminiscent of the wedding of Isaac and Rebecca and teaches that character and loving are more important than looks.

The wedding usually takes place under a wedding canopy consisting of four rods holding up a silk roof. This symboizes the home the couple will inhabit together.

The bride circles the groom seven times, indicating the time it took “Shem Yisborach” to create the world.

Shehecheyonu is recited by the groom, as he uses a new tallit held over his head by four young men.

This is followed by the blessing over wine recited by the rabbi. Then the bride and groom both drink from the cup. This indicates the sanctity of marriage, which can never be broken.

The groom then places the wedding ring on the left hand of the bride. This is an object of value iindicating the groom’s intention to support the bride for a lifetime. (Originally wedding rings were a Roman custom . The ring was a sign tht the Roman bride was the property of  her new husband. The Romans placed an iron link from a chain on the left ancle of the wife, indicating that she was the husband’s property, like the Roman slaves who wore a whole iron chain .)

The wedding contract is called a Ketubah. It is both in Hebrew and English, and outlines the responsibilities of the new couple toward each other. Some Jews display the Ketubah in a prominent place in the home.

The seven blessings are then recited by the rabbi. Then the bride and groom drink a second time from one cup of wine.

The breaking of the glass  is done by the groom who steps on some glass (a light bulb). The breaking glass reminds all Jews of the destruction of the Temple by the Romans  in Jerusalem in the year 70. On hearing the glass break, the wedding guests shout in unison, “mazel tov,” or good luck, thereby concluding the ceremony.

During the ceremony, the rabbi may deliver  some thought derived from Biblical literature and give the wedding his personal characteristic.

After the wedding ceremony there is usually a dinner, after which relatives and friends may  rise and say some words praising the new couple. Most weddings are then concluded by music from an orchestra which plays during the entrance of the wedding party and the groom and the bride.

All of this is aimed at a lifelong marriage resulting in children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Unfortunately, however, divorce is so common in America that only 48% of all married couples remain married for a lifetime.

Shalom u’vracha.

  Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including The American Jewish Community in the 20th and 21st Century (2021).

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