A Jewish Guide to Shiva Practices and Helping Your Friend in Mourning

  

Mourning illustration

When a friend or loved one experiences loss, it can be hard to know how to support them. If that loved one is Jewish, and you are unfamiliar with Jewish mourning practices, it can be even harder to help. This video from G-dcast explains mourning rituals within Judaism and offers advice about how to help a mourner.

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Dance the Hora: How to do the Jewish Wedding Dance

  

Wedding HoraIf you’ve never been to a Jewish wedding, you may not be familiar with the ritual dance, the Hora. But chances are, you’ve seen this circle dance that involves lifting the bride and groom in the air on chairs on TV or in a movie. It’s a joyous dance for everyone to take part in. 

Watch this video, and at your next Jewish wedding, when the song Hava Nagila starts playing, you’ll know what to do!

Looking for more information about Jewish weddings? Check out our Guide to Jewish Weddings for Interfaith Couples, our Weddings booklet and our Wedding Blog.

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Why We Break the Glass at Jewish Weddings

  

Breaking the glass at a wedding

What is this breaking the glass thing all about? One of the most recognizable traditions in a Jewish wedding, signaling the end of the ceremony and time to rejoice, many of us don’t actually know the meaning behind breaking the glass. This is partly because there is no one definition of this ritual.

There are many different interpretations of this tradition, so G-dcast collected three to animate in this short video.

Learn more about breaking the glass here, and find many more tips for creating an inclusive ceremony here.

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Ketubah: The Jewish Wedding Contract

  

KetubahMarriage is about making a strong partnership. The marriage contract, or ketubah, formalizes some of these agreements and there are many different ways to make it personal to your ceremony and relationship.

For ideas for interfaith and modern ways of creating a ketubah, click here. We also have five tips for creating an interfaith ketubah, as well as tips for how to pick your ketubah witness.

The following animated video from G-dcast offers a fun overview about this Jewish tradition.

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Chuppah: The Jewish Wedding Canopy

  

Chuppah imageWhether or not you’ve attended many (or any) Jewish weddings, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of or seen a “chuppah” – the Jewish wedding canopy. It is a symbol of intimacy that partners share, and the home they will create.

If you’re planning a wedding or attending one, (whether or not you have ever heard of a chuppah) this animated short will briefly explain what a chuppah is and some historical Jewish wedding traditions.

While certain traditions appear in most Jewish weddings, there is always room for reinterpretation and reinvention.

Want to learn more about the chuppah and inclusive Jewish wedding ceremonies? Click here.

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What to Expect at a Jewish Wedding Ceremony

  

What exactly does a Jewish wedding ceremony entail? What are the customs and how might they differ from couple to couple? For a quick primer on this subject, check out the video below from G-dcast. And if you want more specifics on Jewish wedding ceremonies for couples who come from different faith traditions, check out our Weddings for the Interfaith Couple booket. If you’re looking for a clergy member to officiate your wedding, try our free referral service. And for more information on wedding planning, this guide has links to lots of other resources.

Margee’s same-sex marriage was an expression of love, Judaism and equality. She and her partner created gender-appropriate language, altering some of the words in the ceremony that “can be interpreted in a way that is not necessarily empowering for same-sex couples.” They “reframed” traditional language and with their union, affirmed that despite not being what some people would consider a traditional Jewish couple, they were indeed a Jewish couple. Margee and her partner are just like many couples who are minorities in the Jewish community, and they found a way to make their wedding Jewish, beautiful and authentic for their union. Mazel tov!

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A Blessing for New Moms

  

Gomel: A Jewish Blessing for New Moms

Having kids is sometimes hard. Giving birth to a baby is REALLY hard. Judaism has a ritual to mark getting through the experience. This next video from G-dcast teaches us how to say the Gomel, a Jewish blessing that is recited upon emerging safely from danger. This blessing is appropriate for new mothers to say to mark the end of their great accomplishment.

The following videos are interviews with real couples about some alternative rituals they performed after their babies were born.

When a baby boy or girl is born, they can be welcomed into the Jewish community through a ceremony. For boys the ceremony is known as a brit milah, or bris and for girls the ceremony is known as a brit bat. In addition to saying many blessings for the child, parents give a toast explaining the values with which they intend to raise their child and announce the name of their child. In this short video, you can learn how Hudi and his wife decided to think creatively about this ceremony. Instead of a speech they chose to sing a song. 

When Diane’s son was born, they weren’t able to host a Jewish bris or baby naming. They still wanted to celebrate the arrival of their son, so when their baby boy turned 1 they hosted an intimate baby naming ceremony at home. Guided by a rabbi, they invited their family and friends into their living room to celebrate and announce Aidan’s Hebrew name. Judaism has a lot to say about names and choosing the right one: Learn about Diane’s choices in regards to Jewish tradition and how she personalized her son’s baby naming.

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Traditions of a Jewish Baby Naming

  

Lifecycle events can feel like giant OMG moments, but we’re here to help! InterfaithFamily has partnered with G-dcast (you might remember their fantastic Torahlog video series, which we shared last year) to present their new series of Lifecycles videos, short animated videos and personal stories that give overviews of specific events and traditions.

Over the next year, we will be sharing these wonderful gems right here on this Lifecycles blog. (But if you’re impatient, you can check out the link above to their entire series on YouTube.) For starters, check out this video on Jewish Baby Naming! Some expectant parents spend literally years picking out baby names and others figure it out in an instant when they see their new child for the first time. Judaism has a lot to say about names and choosing the right one. Watch and discover!

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