Aufruf - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
The Aufruf refers to the calling up of the bride and groom to the Torah on the Shabbat before the wedding. The Aufruf is an opportunity for the community to publicly recognize, congratulate, and share in the joy of the bride and groom's wedding to come. In some communities it is customary to throw candy afterwards to send the bride and groom wishes for a sweet marriage.
The Wedding Ceremony - SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 25
In traditional Jewish literature marriage is actually called Kiddushin, which translates as
"sanctification" or "dedication." Sanctification indicates that what is happening is not just a social arrangement
or contractual agreement, but a spiritual bonding and the fulfillment of a mitzvah, a Divine precept. Dedication
indicates that the couple now have an exclusive relationship that involves total dedication of the bride and groom
to each other, to the extent of them becoming "one soul in two bodies."
In Jewish tradition there is a marriage contract called a Ketubah that defines the relationship in terms of
commitment and financial aspects. The word ketubah literally means, "that which is written." It is a contract
that a man makes with a woman, obligating the Chatan (the groom) to serve, cherish, sustain and support the Kallah
(the bride) in truth. Traditionally, it is interesting to note that although the entire ketubah is written in Aramaic,
the language of the Babylonian Jews, the date is written in Hebrew. In particular, the Hebrew word for month, Chodesh, is used.
The word Chodesh is derived from the word Chadash, meaning "new" and it therefore denotes renewal. Every wedding may be seen as
the beginning of a new world. The signing of the Ketubah takes place before the ceremony, and is attended by immediate family.
Immediately following the signing of the Ketubah by both bride and groom comes the Bedeken.
The Bedeken is a ritual based on a tradition which requires that the groom see the bride before the ceremony and cover
her face with the veil. This custom dates back to the Biblical episode in which Jacob was deceived into marrying Leah
instead of his chosen bride, Rachel, because she was hidden behind the veil. Ron will be brought before Jennifer for
the veiling, and will ensure her identity. This event takes place before the main ceremony and is attended by immediate family.
Under the Chuppah
According to tradition, the Chuppah is open on four sides welcoming family and friends. Jennifer and Ron are led to
the Chuppah by their parents. Their parents will stand beside them under the Chuppah, not only to support them in marriage,
but to join them in uniting their families. After Jennifer arrives at the Chuppah, she will circle Ron seven times.
The number seven is significant in Judaism because the world was created in seven days and Jewish mystics prefer the number
seven as it is found throughout the Bible and Jewish life. The seven circles are representative of the seven wedding
blessings that will be recited during the ceremony, so Ron is encircled seven times by Jennifer symbolizing his vow
to love her. Also, her circles symbolically represent a new family circle, establishing the space that Jennifer and Ron will share.
When Jennifer has finished circling Ron, she stands at his right side and the ceremony begins. The ceremony is composed of two parts:
the Erusin (betrothal) and the Nisuin (marriage).
The Ring Ceremony
According to tradition, the central act of Erusin is the groom's giving and the bride's acceptance of the ring, coupled with
the recitation of the Hebrew prayer known as the Haray aht, which translates as, "By this ring you are consecrated to me as my
wife in accordance with the traditions of Moses and Israel.". the groom then completes the Erusin ceremony by placing the ring
on the bride's hand, traditionally on her right index finger, which stems from the ancient belief that the index finger was
directly connected to the heart. Jennifer will in turn place a ring on Ron's right index finger and also recite the Haray aht.
Sheva Berachot is Hebrew for "seven blessings." which are recited by the rabbi during the wedding ceremony under the chuppah
Breaking the Glass
Few Jewish wedding traditions are as well known as the groom's smashing of the glass at the conclusion of the ceremony. This
act has a variety of explanations. One is that the shattering ushers in the outbreak of merriment that should immediately follow
the pronouncement. Another is that the glass is shattered with the implication that the marriage should always remain intact.
Another explanation is that the breaking recalls the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Even at the height of personal
joy, sadness is remembered. The shattered glass is also a reminder to all in attendance that the world is replete with imperfection
and it is imperative to all to partake in Tikkun Olam, the mending of the world.
Immediately after the ceremony, Jennifer and Ron will retreat to a private room for Yichud (seclusion) before emerging
to greet their guests at the reception. The reason for this tradition is so that the bride and groom can share a private
moment as a married couple. It is a time to sit down in peace and look at and talk to each other, to share some food and
relax before the party to follow.
Wedding Reception/Seudat Mitzvah - SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
The bride and groom will rejoin their guests at the Seudat Mitvah (the wedding feast) immediately following the ceremony.
It is a mitzvah -- a good deed -- for the guests present to bring joy to the heart of a bride and her new husband. There,
guests will join the bride and groom in a joyous celebration, and through laughter, music and dancing, will try to fulfill
the mitzvah by instilling joy into the hearts of the bride and groom. One common tradition is a celebratory Jewish folk
dance called the Hora in which guests join hands, circle the bride and groom and lift the happy couple up on chairs.