Our updated booklet, Weddings For The Interfaith Couple, walks you through all of the traditions for the big day, starting with two to think about in advance (choosing a wedding contract known as a ketubah and topics to consider when meeting with your wedding officiant).
Rabbi Mychal will be leading us in a discussion of interfaith relationships throughout Jewish history and the present challenges and opportunities they pose. This discussion will provide a foundation for the second part of the series in which we will explore the many realities of interfaith relationships, including challenges we have faced and our varied approaches to our own interfaith experiences.
A great way for Jewish professionals and volunteers who work with and provide programming for people in interfaith relationships to locate resources and trainings to build more welcome into their Jewish communities; connect with and learn from each other; and publicize and enhance their programs and services.
Adult Education Program: The Journey of Life Workshop focusing on Marriage; led by Rabbi David Kudan through support from the CJP.
The Circle of Life – Marriage and The Blessing of a Sacred Covenant
In Jewish tradition the essence of marriage is a loving and committed relationship between two people. The Hebrew word for marriage is “Kiddushin” from the root meaning “Holiness.” The idea of marriage is therefore a bond that enhances the holiness of a couple’s – and a family’s life.
The marriage ceremony provides a way for the community to witness and celebrate the formalization of the bond between the partners in marriage. Here is a review of many of the familiar elements of the ceremony which we will discuss further in this workshop:
The Ketubah is a traditional marriage document that specifies the rights and obligations of husband and wife to love, honor, respect, and support one another. It serves as a reminder of the solemn vows undertaken by the bride and groom under the Chuppah. The rabbi reads the Ketubah, and then it is signed by the bride and groom and by their chosen witnesses.
The Chuppah is a canopy under which the wedding ceremony takes place. It serves as a symbol of the home the couple will create together. While providing shelter, it is open on all sides to welcome family, friends, and community into their lives. The ephemeral nature of the Chuppah is meant to remind the couple that their true home is with one another, and its pillars are the qualities of character and personal strengths with which they support one another.
Traditionally the bride circles the groom seven times. The number seven is regarded as auspicious, as it symbolizes the seven heavens, the seven wedding blessings and the seven days of creation. Through marriage our lives are intertwined and we create a new family circle.
Blessing of Wine and Betrothal
This portion of the ceremony, the Seven Blessings, represents our hopes and prayers for the bride and the groom. The themes of these blessings also move beyond the present gathering to ask for abundant blessings upon all people. Through these prayers, we regard the bride and groom as a symbol of the happiness, wholeness, fulfillment that human beings are capable of attaining.
The Giving of the Rings
The rings symbolize unity, eternity, and simplicity. A band of metal without holes or stones represents the wholeness achieved through marriage and is symbolic of an unbroken union. The wedding rings symbolize the link to the couple’s past and a commitment to their future. As the rings have no beginning or end it embodies the hope that the partners’ love and marriage endure forever. According to tradition, the rings are initially placed on the index finger.
The Breaking of the Glass
The most familiar aspect of the Jewish wedding has its roots in Jewish folklore. According to one interpretation, the newly married couple’s years of happiness will be as numerous as the shards they create in the breaking of the glass. This dramatic act moves us from the serious intensity of the marriage ceremony to the exuberant celebration that follows. As the bride and groom kiss for the first time as husband and wife, all present shout “Mazel Tov!” in congratulations.
Yichud in Hebrew means “togetherness”. It is a brief time of seclusion for the newly married couple immediately following the ceremony. In their first moments alone as husband and wife, the couple breaks bread together.