Mazel Tov! As you joyfully anticipate entering the Covenant of Marriage, you will be planning the ceremony that will solemnize your love for one another, as well as the festivities that will celebrate not only your wedding day but your marriage as a whole.
The choices you make and the special and meaningful customs and traditions of our Jewish heritage will make your wedding day a truly memorable and personal experience. We look forward to helping you craft a beautiful milestone in your life, as part of a long and happy life based on trust, love and companionship.
How Does Jewish Tradition Relate To Us As Engaged Couple?
In the Book of Genesis, God tells Adam that “It is not good for man to live alone.” A Jewish marriage is a sacred ceremony that celebrates the creation of a new Jewish family and is a step toward keeping with the first mitzvah to “be fruitful and multiply.”
Your wedding day will be one of the most significant occasions in your life. It is a sanctification of life itself. Indeed, the Hebrew word for marriage is kiddushin, “holiness.” When you enter the bonds of kiddushin, you enter a relationship inextricably bound together by a holy bond. The Ba’al Shem Tov, founder of Hassidism, said it well: “From every human being there arises a light that reaches to heaven. When two souls are destined to find each other, their streams of light flow together, and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.”
Marriage Eligibility Under Conservative Judaism
The clergy of Congregation Shaarey Zedek will officiate at the wedding of any couple who are either the children of Jewish mothers or who have been converted to Judaism according to Jewish law.
Divorced individuals must have secured a get, a Jewish divorce, before remarriage.
The clergy of Shaarey Zedek officiate at every wedding at Congregation Shaarey Zedek. In the event you wish clergy from another synagogue or temple to co-officiate, you need to discuss this with us so that a letter of invitation can be sent to the requested clergy.
What is the Aufruf?
The Aufruf ceremony is a unique occasion to honor the groom and bride in the context of a synagogue service. The word Aufruf, derived from the German, refers to the “calling up” of the couple to the Torah for an aliyah (the Torah Blessings) giving public recognition and welcoming the couple to the congregation.
During the service, the Rabbi will bless the couple and inform the congregation of their forthcoming marriage.
Traditionally, the Aufruf is scheduled on the Shabbat immediately prior to the wedding. If that Shabbat is not possible, the Aufruf can take place earlier.
When planning a rehearsal prior to the wedding, please contact Robert Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248.357.5544 to reserve the date and time.
The Ketubah is a Jewish legal document confirming the religious bond of the union. It does not replace a standard civil marriage license that the officiating Rabbi will need in order to perform the ceremony. A marriage license can be obtained by applying to the County Clerk’s Office and should be arranged within thirty days prior to the marriage.
The traditional Ketubah has been used by Jews for more than two thousand years, and is written in Aramaic, the language of the Talmud, or in Hebrew. The great innovation of the Jewish marriage document is the recognition that not only love, but also responsibility is necessary in a Jewish marriage.
The husband’s primary obligations are listed in the Ketubah, declaring that he must cherish and honor his wife, provide for her support and sexual fulfillment. In pre-modern times, his financial obligations in case of death or divorce were also spelled out to insure the woman’s welfare.
The Ketubah can be a beautiful work of art. Should you decide to have a Ketubah especially designed, be sure to commission an artist well in advance so it will be ready in time for your wedding day. Please also confer with the officiating Rabbi to ensure the proper text and exact spelling of all Hebrew names and places.
According to Jewish Law, two witnesses, knowledgeable and observant Jews, related to neither the bride nor the groom nor to each other, sign the Ketubah. Often, the clergy serve as the witnesses.
The Veiling of the Bride (Bedeken)
After signing of the Ketubah, a short ceremony called Bedeken – the veiling of the bride – takes place. Most famously, this is reminiscent of the scene in the Torah when Jacob thinks he is marrying Rachel, but when the veil is lifted after the marriage, he had wed her older sister, Leah. Actually, though, the true source of the bedeken comes a generation earlier when in Genesis 24:60, we read the story of Rebecca’s first meeting with Isaac. As Isaac, who is to be her husband, approaches, “she took her veil and covered herself.” Thus, when the groom lowers his bride’s veil, she is blessed by the Rabbi with the words offered to Rebecca by her mother and brother, before she left for her marriage to Isaac: “Oh sister, may you grow into thousands of myriads….”
The Wedding Procession
The custom of escorting the bride and groom to the Chuppah is an ancient one. Throughout Jewish history, brides and grooms have been compared to kings and queens, who always appear with an entourage. The tradition of attendants continues to this day. Jewish law does not fix the order of the procession or the number of participants. The family may decide the order of the procession and who stands under the Chuppah. Non-Jews may be part of the wedding procession.
Many families provide for a marriage coordinator to aid in facilitating these arrangements. Since Judaism has always emphasized the important role of parents, it is customary for the couple to be escorted by their parents and to have their parents stand at their side under the Chuppah. At the conclusion of the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom walk down the aisle together, followed in reverse order by those who participated in the processional. The shoulders of the bride and the women in her wedding party must be covered to reflect modesty. All men in the wedding party and in the congregation must wear a kippah or yarmulke. You may wish to buy color-coordinated kippot imprinted with the date and names. These are available through your local Jewish bookstores or your party planner.
The central symbol of the wedding is the Chuppah or wedding canopy under which the bride and groom stand. The Chuppah represents the home they will establish together and has four corner posts but no walls.
Traditionally, the bride’s and groom’s parents stand around the couple beneath the Chuppah to symbolize that parents are the foundation upon which the bride and groom will establish their own home. The open walls of the Chuppah indicate that the couple’s new home should be open, an integral part of their extended family and community. The Chuppah may be as simple as a tallit suspended on poles or as elaborate as you wish.
The Wedding Ring
The giving and accepting of an item of value in the presence of witnesses is the most important part of the Jewish wedding ceremony. It has become almost universal Jewish practice to use a ring as the token of the marriage bond. Just as the ring has no beginning and no end, it is the wish of every bride and groom that their love be unending.
One ring, given by the groom to his bride, is required by Jewish law. However, double-ring ceremonies are now the norm. The ring must be made of plain metal, often gold, with no precious stones and of one piece. The ring to be given the bride must belong to the groom.
After reciting the marriage proposal aloud, the groom places the ring on the index finger of the bride’s right hand and recites the appropriate betrothal formula.
HARAY AT M’KUDESHET LI B’TABAAT ZO K’DAT MOSHEH V’YISRAEL
By this ring you are consecrated unto me as my wife in accordance with the law of Moses and the people of Israel.
The bride places the ring on the groom’s finger and recites words from the biblical book “Song of Songs.”
(ANI L’DODI V’DODI LI – I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine) or other words expressing the love the couple shares.
The Betrothal Blessing
The Rabbi recites the Birkat Erusin or betrothal blessing over a cup of wine. The bride’s attendant raises the bride’s veil as she and the groom share the wine, after which the veil is once again lowered.
Sheva Brachot (Seven Wedding Blessings)
The following blessings are chanted in Hebrew. These blessings, said over the second cup of wine, trace the evolution of loving relationships, from the first couple (Adam and Eve) to the very moment of the marriage we are celebrating. The text of the blessings is as follows:
Praised are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.
Praised are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who created all things for your glory.
Praised are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of humankind.
Praised are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who created man and woman in Your image, fashioning them as mates, that together they might perpetuate life. Praised are You, O Lord, Creator of humankind.
May Zion rejoice as her children are restored to her in joy. Praised are You, O Lord, who causes Zion to rejoice at her children’s return.
Grant perfect joy to these loving companions, as You did to the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden. Praised are You, O Lord, who grants the joy of bride and groom.
Praised are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who created joy and gladness, bride and groom, mirth, song, delight and rejoicing, love and harmony, peace and companionship. O Lord our God, may there ever be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem voices of those joined in marriage under the bridal canopy, the voices of young people feasting and singing. Praised are You, O Lord, who causes the groom to rejoice with the bride.
The ideal Jewish home is one in which there is Shalom Bayit, an atmosphere of peace and harmony. It is a home in which virtues are taught more by example than by precept, and where the joy of living is found in shared tasks and responsibilities. We hope this will be your home, and we wish you every happiness in your new life.
The Wedding Reception
The wedding reception is known as a seudat mitzvah, a “mitzvah meal,” because it is a mitzvah to celebrate with a bride and groom. If you will be celebrating at Congregation Shaarey Zedek, please contact Quality Kosher Catering (248.352.7758) to arrange for Kosher food. It is also customary to begin the meal with Motzi (blessing over bread) and conclude with a special Birkat HaMazon, a blessing that includes the Seven Blessings recited under the chuppah.
Welcome To The Shaarey Zedek Family!
We are honored and happy to celebrate with you, and we welcome you as members of our Congregation Shaarey Zedek family. May you be blessed with joy and happiness.