SIGNING OF THE KETUBAH
The ketubah is the Jewish marriage contract, traditionally documenting a legal transaction and outlining the contractual obligations of the marriage. Oren and Amy have written their own ketubah that is in keeping with the legalistic tone of the original but representing their unique promises to their marriage and each other. Two witnesses will attest to Oren and Amy’s promises and willing acceptance of the marriage contract. These witnesses will also validate the exchange of rings and witness Oren and Amy’s willing consent to the marriage during the ceremony itself.
BEDEKIN (VEILING OF THE BRIDE)
In Genesis, Jacob worked for seven years for the right to marry Rachel, but because he didn’t see the face of his bride, Jacob was tricked into marrying her sister Leah instead. Now the groom lowers the veil over the bride’s face to avoid making Jacob’s mistake. At the bedekin, Oren will look at Amy’s face and confirm that she is his chosen bride and lower the veil, thus symbolically setting her apart from others.
HUPPAH (BRIDAL CANOPY)
The wedding ceremony takes place under the huppah (bridal canopy), a symbol of the home that Oren and Amy will build together. It is open on all sides so that the guests may be part of the ceremony, also emphasizing the value of hospitality towards guests.
“It is the huppah that we take for our home when we are promising each other everything. It is the promise of a home. Its openness pledges that there will be no secrets. Friends and family stand at the corners, weighing the fragile structure down. The huppah does not promise that love or hope or pledges will keep out the weather or catastrophe. But its few lines are a sketch for what might be. The flimsiness of the huppah reminds us that the only thing that is real about a home is the people in it who love and choose to be together, to be a family. The only anchor that they will have will be holding onto each others’ hands. The huppah is the house of promises. It is the home of hope.”
Adapted from The Succah and the Huppah by Debra Cash
The traditional Jewish wedding ceremony is divided into two parts separated by the reading of the ketubah: kiddushin or erusin (betrothal) and nissuin (nuptials). Two cups of wine are used as remnants of a time with these parts took place on separate occasions. The Rabbi begins by reciting blessings over a cup of wine and expressing gratitude to God for allowing the sanctification of the relationship through marriage. After the blessings, Oren and Amy drink from the cup of wine. Marriage is a contract between a husband and wife and is transacted symbolically with a transfer of an object of worth. In keeping with Jewish tradition, the rings used are simple bands, unbroken and unadorned with stones or engravings.
READING OF THE KETUBAH
The ketubah is read aloud to make a clear separation between the two ceremonies, kiddushin and nissuin. It is then given to Amy to keep as her property after the wedding.
NISSUIN (NUPTIALS) AND SHEVAH BRACHOT (SEVEN BLESSINGS)
Historically, betrothal designated the bride and groom for each other while nissuin was accomplished by a symbolic act of intimacy that demonstrated the couple’s intention to create a new home and new life. Today, nissuin is marked by the recitation of the seven blessings. Seven is an important and mystical number in Jewish tradition: it is the number of days it took God to create the universe, and considered the number of completion and perfection. Oren and Amy have chosen to honor their family by asking them to read each of the first six blessings. After the final, seventh blessing, Oren and Amy drink from the second cup.
BREAKING OF THE GLASS
The wedding ceremony ends with Oren breaking a glass with his foot. There are many meanings attached to this well-known element of the Jewish wedding ceremony. It serves as a reminder of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, reminding us that even in times of great joy, we remember times of great sadness. It reminds us that love, like glass, is fragile and must be protected. The wedding represents answered prayers, a taste of redemption, but the world is still broken, requiring our care. The glass signals the end of the ceremony; the silence and hush of mythic time under the huppah ends with an explosion. Once the glass is broken, the guests shout, “mazel tov!” (congratulations!) and accompany Oren and Amy, now husband and wife, with joyous singing and dancing.
Immediately following the ceremony, Oren and Amy will spend a few minutes alone together in a private room, for a chance to reflect upon the joyous occasion and enjoy the first few moments of married life together.