The Essence of Traditions
Jewish weddings are deeply rooted in family and traditions such as the signing of the ketubah, the symbolic chuppah ceremony, and the lively hora dance, all of which contribute to the rich cultural tapestry and unique joy of the celebration.
Capturing Tradition: The Timeless Beauty of Jewish Weddings
Photography and Videography play a particularly special role in Jewish weddings, capturing the essence of the rich traditions and emotional moments that unfold during the ceremony and celebrations. From the signing of the ketubah to the breaking of the glass, at Yours Truly, we have the unique task of immortalizing the meaningful rituals and joyous festivities that make each Jewish wedding distinct.
Jewish Pre-wedding Traditions
Jewish Weddings are full of culturally significant pre-wedding traditions, including:
- Aufruf: This pre-wedding ceremony is a religious service that typically occurs on the Saturday before the wedding. The couple is called to the Torah where they receive a blessing, or aliyah.
- Fasting: This tradition is observed by couples at sundown the night before the wedding. The act of fasting is meant to resemble the forgiveness of sin, similar to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
- Tish: The Tish is meant to act as a pre-wedding celebration for the groom. It is a time for guests to to eat and drink around the table (tish) and congratulate the groom.
- Ketubah Signing: The ketubah is a marriage contract, under Jewish civil law, that the groom presents to his bride on their wedding day. This document states the groom’s financial obligations to the bride either in death or divorce. The Ketubah is signed by the groom, the Rabbi, two male witnesses, and the bride.
- Bedeken: Meaning “to veil”, this tradition involves the wedding party watching the groom veil his bride-to-be. This is meant to represent the groom’s love for the bride’s inner beauty.
Important Aspects of Jewish Wedding Ceremony
There are several important traditions honored during a Jewish wedding ceremony:
- Chuppa: A Jewish wedding procession starts with the groom and then the bride walking down the aisle to the chuppa. The chuppa, or wedding canopy, is a ceremonial canopy held up by four poles to represent the home the couple will create together.
- Circling of the bride: Before the ceremony is to start, the bride circles the groom under the chuppa seven times. This tradition is meant to symbolize the creation of a new family.
- Kiddushin: The kiddushin, or betrothal ceremony, takes place under the chuppa. During this part of the ceremony, rings are exchanged between the bride and groom and they each receive a blessing while sipping wine. The ketubah then is read aloud.
- Nissuin: During the nissuin, or marriage, the sheva b’rachot, also known as the seven blessings, is recited over a second cup of wine. This part of the ceremony is meant to provide good wishes for the couple.
- Breaking of the Glass: During the final part of the ceremony, the groom stomps on a glass wrapped in a napkin. This symbolizes several things, most notably the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the fragility of human relationships. As the glass is broken, those in attendance shout “Mazel tov” as a way to congratulate the couple.
- Yihud: Yichud, or seclusion, takes place before the reception. During this time, the bride and groom have a chance to take in the excitement of their big day in a private setting.
Traditional Dances At Jewish Weddings
After the wedding ceremony has concluded, the celebration begins! There are several dances that play a big part in Jewish wedding celebrations. Typical dances at Jewish Weddings include:
- The Hora: Perhaps the most well-known traditional dance at Jewish weddings, the Hora involves the bride and groom being lifted up on chairs by the crowd. People in attendance then dance around the couple in celebration.
- Mitzvah: Also known as the Mitzvah tanz, this dance involves men dancing before the bride after the wedding feast has concluded. The bride stands at one end of the room holding a long sash while the one dancing for her holds the other end.
- Mezinke: This dance is done if the parents of the couple have “married off” their last child, signifying the end of their parenting journey. The parents dance in the middle of the dance floor while guests create a circle around them.
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