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It is a Jewish tradition for a Bride to present her Groom
with a tallit to wear for his Aufruf (reading of the Torah
prior to their ceremony). The Groom's family often give candlesticks to the
Bride that can be used during the actual wedding ceremony.
This means veiling,
and is a small rite before the ceremony in which the Groom raises the veil over
the Bride's face. He is acknowledging that he is marrying the correct
This custom originated
in the story of Jacob who didn't see the face of his Bride prior to his wedding
and was tricked into marrying Leah instead of his intended, Rachel.
Eursin and Nissuin
Jewish marriage ceremony consists of two parts: The Erusin
(pre-engagement) and Nissuin (marriage). The Eurisin was historically
performed up to one year before the marriage ceremony, but recently the two have
been combined into the marriage ceremony. Kiddush, begins the Eursin
ceremony, which is the blessing over the wine.
Kiddush is part
of virtually all Jewish observances as a prayer of sanctification.
Exchange of Rings
The exchange of rings completes the Erusin ceremony.
Under Jewish law, an act of Kinyan, or formal physical acquisition, makes
legally binding a declaration of marriage. Two witnesses must see the
bride accept the ring from the groom as he recites the words of marriage.
Before the bride and
groom walk with their parents to the hupah, a tanaim is signed. The groom
is asked if he is ready to accept the responsibilities as outlined in the
Kepubah. The groom accepts a handkerchief or other object given from the
Rabbi as a sign of his acceptance in the presence of his two witnesses, who sign
The text of the
ketubah is not meant to vary, but the decorations around its border may be
different and often expensive.
Kippot or Yarmulkes
It is also a custom
for Jewish men to cover their heads at all times (especially during prayers)
with a kippot (yarmulkes) as a form of reverence, respect, and acknowledgement
that God is present everywhere. In some congregations, women also cover their
heads to pray.
In a traditional
Jewish wedding, first the groomsmen and then the groom enter accompanied by the
groom's parents, then the bridal attendants, then the bride enters, accompanied
by her parents. Both sent of parents stand behind the couple and slightly
to the right and left of them during the ceremony.
Conservative, and Reform wedding ceremonies take place under a hupah
(wedding canopy). The hupah is a rectangular piece of cloth large enough
for the Bride, Groom, Rabbi, and sometimes other members of the wedding party.
The hupah signifies the new home about to be shared by the newlyweds.
It is often held by members of the wedding party or close friends of the couple.
The bride at the beginning of the ceremony may Circle the
Groom seven times. It is a Biblical custom that defines the space
shared by husband and wife. The number seven, in Judaism, is a mystical
number and represents fulfillment and completion; the seven circles complete
the couple's search for each other.
The Sheva Berakhot or Seven Benedictions
After the ketubah has been read at the ceremony, wine
is often poured into a new glass and the Sheva Berakhot (Seven
Benedictions) are recited over it. The Bride and Groom then drink from the
glass of wine. With the ceremony complete, tradition calls for the Groom to
break the wrapped glass by stomping on it. This final action symbolizes the
destruction of the Holy Temple in Israel, and reminds guests that love is
fragile. The audience may shout Mazel Tov, and the Bride and Groom
This is a few private moments between bride and groom that
takes place immediately after the ceremony. It is a symbolic
consummation of marriage.
At the reception, the couple and their guest rejoice as a
Mitzvah, or obligation.