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Jewish Wedding

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Introduction of Jewish Wedding

When a number of religious rituals are being discussed, marriages cannot be kept out of the equation. It is imperative that the wedding ceremonies are integral to the social life. For the special qualities of Jewish wedding, it is worth a mention, whenever the topic of weddings in Indian context. Even though the origin of Jews in India dates back to many centuries ago, their customs and traditions have become well known only in the modern days. This is because of the self-identifying ethnicity of this particular community, where a number of divisions have been seen, with varying origins from different parts of the world. There are a number of Jews in the world, these being the Askhenazi Jews, African Jews, Sephardic Jews, and those living in India, Bukharan, Iraqi, Persian and Yemenite. Since, there is regional difference in the cultures and rituals followed by these Jews; it is pertinent that their marriages are also held with differences. But, in most of the communities, the rituals are almost followed with some common features.


Stages of Jewish Wedding Ceremony

Some common features in all kinds of wedding ceremonies of the Jews in different parts of the world are Ketubah, Chuppah and the process of breaking a glass.

Ketubah is the contract of marriage, which is required to be signed by the bride and groom and witnessed by two signatories. Chuppah is a wedding canopy, under which the ring is given by groom to the bride. The Jewish wedding comprises of two stages broadly, the Kiddushin or the sanctification process and the nissuin or the marriage. The first stage is a kind of divorce, where the woman is technically prohibited from all other men and the second stage is the giving of the ring. The latter part is somewhat differing in the present day, as the first and second stages are brought together in one ceremony.


Pre Wedding Rituals

One of the pre-wedding rituals is Yom Kippur Viddui. In this ritual the bride and the groom make confessional prayers, in order to forgive each other for their pasts and start a new life afresh. Kabbalat Patim is the next ritual, wherein the couple is not allowed to meet from one week before wedding. This is followed by Badeken tradition, during which the bride and the groom see each other as the groom veils the bride. This takes place just before the wedding ceremony.


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Wedding Rituals

The wedding ceremony takes place under the 'chuppah', which is an open canopy. Here, the bride circles the groom seven times. This is known as 'kiddushin'. After the blessings from the Betrothal, the couple drinks wine from the cup. This is followed by the exchange of the rings between the couple. The next ritual is the reading of Ketubah. It is a wedding contract written beforehand and signed by two witnesses. After this, the Sheva Berakhot ceremony takes place, wherein the rabbi recites the seven blessings over a cup of wine. Subsequently, a wine glass is placed under the bridegroom's foot and he is asked to break it.


Special dances

Dancing is a major feature of Jewish weddings. It is customary for the guests to dance in front of the seated couple and entertain them. Traditional Ashkenazi dances include:

  • The Krenzl, in which the bride's mother is crowned with a wreath of flowers as her daughters dance around her (traditionally at the wedding of the mother's last unwed daughter).
  • The Mizinke, a dance for the parents of the bride or groom when their last child is wed.
  • The "Horah" is a Middle Eastern/Israeli style dance usually played as a second dance set.
  • The gladdening of the bride, in which guests dance around the bride, and can include the use of "shtick"—silly items such as signs, banners, costumes, confetti, and jump ropes made of table napkins.
  • The Mitzvah tantz, in which family members and honored rabbis are invited to dance in front of the bride (or sometimes with the bride in the case of a father or grandfather), often holding a gartel, and then dancing with the groom. At the end the bride and groom dance together themselves.


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