A Jewish Wedding

The Aufruf

On the Shabbat before the wedding, the bride and groom are given the honor being called up to recite the blessings before and after the Torah reading. This practice enables the Jewish community to publicly recognize and congratulate its brides and grooms. On October 27th, Brian and Jen will receive the honor of an aliyah (to be called up to the Torah) and Brian will chant the week's Haftorah. Following Brian's reading, Jen and Brian will be greeted by members of the congregation throwing candy. These sweets will express the community's wishes of a sweet and fruitful marriage for them.

The Tishes

During this special time before the ceremony, the bride and groom go to separate rooms to receive the blessings and good wishes of friends and family. Jen will be receiving the women in the Reamer Chapel and Brian will be receiving the men in the Emsellem Room. In addition, Brian and Jen will deliver explanations of the week's Torah portion -- divrei Torah -- emphasizing the relationship between the Torah portion and their marriage. To put the bride and groom at ease, friends and family gently tease and encourage merriment while the bride and groom deliver their speeches.

The Ketubah

Prior to the start of the wedding ceremony, the ketubah, which details the husband's obligations to his wife, is signed by at least two witnesses. This practice started in 200 BCE and was dramatically modern for its time because it gave women legal status and rights. Our modern ketubah outlines the husband's and the wife's obligations to each other. Brian has made the ketubah extra special by selecting the ketubah paper and hand writing the Aramaic calligraphy.

The Tallis

The bride often gives her groom a tallis (prayer shawl) as a wedding gift. Jen will give Brian a tallis to symbolize the words of Rebbe Carlebach: "You know someone loves you when you are good and sweet, but everyone has a part that is not perfect. So the bride says to the groom, 'You can trust me so much, you can hide under my soul all the time. I shall help you hide under this tallis forever.'" Jen says to Brian, in other words, I take all of you -- perfect and not -- and when you need peace, you can find it near me under the shelter of the tallis that I give to you on our wedding day.

The Kippot

The black and grey kippot which will be given out on the wedding day were made by the remarkable Abayudaya Jews of Uganda. Check out the webpage of Kulanu for more information about them. And don't forget to take your kippah home with you!

The Bedeken

It is customary for the groom to lower the veil over the bride's face before entering the wedding ceremony. This originates from the story of Jacob who was tricked into marrying a veiled Leah, instead of his beloved Rachel. Brian will lower Jen's veil to not only make sure that it is she that will be under the huppah with him, but also as a means of telling her, again in the words of Rebbe Carlebach, "There are times when I will not know who you are, times when your essence and goodness will be covered up. Even during those times I will still love you and hold you up."

The Chuppah

The wedding ceremony takes place under the huppah (wedding canopy), which represents the Jewish home that the bride and groom will create together. The canopy is left open on all four sides to symbolize that the home Brian and Jen will make is always open to friends, family, and the needy.


Traditionally, the bride circles the groom as a means of protecting him from evil spirits and the temptations of the outside world. Brian and Jen will each participate-Jen will circle Brian three times, Brian will circle Jen three times, and they will complete one circle together. They also interpret these circles as symbols of their desires to protect each other and to create space for a new family.

The Seven Blessings

The Nissuin (marriage) consists of the sheva brachot (seven blessings). The blessings thank God for: the fruit of the vine; creation of the world; creation of humanity; creation of man in God's image, the blessing of having children; and the couple's joy and happiness.

The Ceremony

Traditionally, the Jewish wedding ceremony is divided into two parts: Erusin (Betrothal) and Nissuin (Nuptials). Erusin consists of kiddush (blessing over the wine) and the exchanging of rings. Brian and Jen will share the first cup of wine with their parents to symbolize the love and support that have received from their families that helped them reach the wedding canopy today. During Nissuin, they will drink the second cup of wine themselves to symbolize the binding together of their two families into a new family. Brian and Jen will also exchange rings. The rings are placed on each other right index fingers in plain sight of the witnesses. This placement stems back to an ancient belief that the index finger has a direct line to the heart. The rings are made of pure, unbroken metal to represent to wholeness of an unbroken union.

Breaking The Glass

Probably the best-known part of a Jewish wedding is the breaking of the glass by the groom at the end of the ceremony. Over the years this tradition has been given many interpretations, including that one should remember that there are times of sadness, even at the height of personal joy. Others interpret the breaking of the glass as a reminder of the destruction of the Second Temple.

The Yichud

After leaving the huppah, the bride and groom spend 10-15 minutes alone before joining the party celebrating their marriage. Brian and Jen will spend this time as the tradition dictates to exhale, embrace and let the fact that they are now married sink in. This is a wonderful tradition that reminds the couple that even in the busiest of times, it is important to make time to be together.

The Wedding Feast

It is considered a great mitzvah (commandment/good deed) to bring joy and entertainment to the bride and groom. Brian and Jen welcome toasts, acrobatics and other forms of entertainment from our talented guests. Remember this is a religious obligation! Enjoy!

Gift Giving

It is a Jewish ideal -- even at times of great joy -- to remember those in need. We therefore suggest, in lieu of a gift to us, a donation to a worthy cause in our name. Click here for ideas.

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