Jewish Traditions

Serendipity are proud to live and work in the diversely multicultural city of Melbourne. We are currently in the process of creating a new section on our website focused on the range of cultural traditions within wedding ceremonies, which will hopefully inspire you (as it most certainly does us). We have been inspired by the festive nature, colour, themes and significance of Jewish weddings; the wonderful dancing, thoughtful and dynamic speeches, and the wedding is centred and draws on the rich traditions of Jewish culture and religious life. The couple may choose an outdoor ceremony, placing the Chuppah (canopy) in a garden or home, or by the beach, or else more traditionally the ceremony is celebrated within the Synagogue.

The Jewish wedding process classically has two distinct stages, a beautiful illustration of the depths and ancient customs of this religion. The first stage  involves sanctification and dedication. Often the bride is blessed with the laying on of hands, from the grandfathers. fathers and the groom and is veiled. Here the families are united, marking the beginning of the bride and grooms future life together. The groom may offer presents to his bride, a ring or another object of value, as a sign of his love and commitment.

The second stage; Nissuin is the marriage ceremony, is held underneath a traditional bridal canopy — Chuppah. Traditionally the groom enters the Chuppah first, here he prepares to welcome his future wife into the home. As the bride enters, she follows the sacred custom of Russian Jewish brides by circling her groom seven times, a symbolic action which is though to derive from the book of Jeremiah 31:22, “A woman shall surround a man”. The measured circuits may represent the three virtues of marriage: righteousness, justice and loving kindness. As seven denotes perfection and completeness, it is fitting for this custom to take place within the Chuppah which represents the couple’s new home and life together, symbolically enclosing the newly weds, protecting them from outside harm and illuminating them with warmth and love.

Rings are exchanged and then the Ketuba (the marriage contract) is read aloud. As bride and groom formally accept the responsibilities of marriage (Nisuin) their words and solemnities are accompanied by the reciting of seven blessings (Sheva Brochot). Next a blessing is carried out over wine, which praises God for providing the laws that preserve the sanctity of family life and the Jewish people.

The conclusion of ritual formalities is marked by the newlyweds receiving a blessing over wine (Kiddushin). Finally the groom breaks a glass by stamping on it ( a reminder of Jerusalem and Israel). Celebration fills the air as the guests then surround the newlyweds and wish them “Mazel Tov!

The beautiful and time honoured traditions of the Jewish faith continue as the day tranforms into night — with many important customs, including speeches and dancing taking place at the reception celebrations. Have a look at Serendipity’s new page on Russian Jewish weddings (part of our focus on tradition and culture) and the page celebrating Jewish dancing.

 

One Response to “Jewish Traditions”
  1. Gila Shirinov 2 May 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    We found our Jewish ceremony very special, very significant to be part of a very long tradition of faith and ceremonies that tie communities and families together. It is good to leave time to appreciate the meanings in your own life and with your families. I felt that our ceremony is an important foundation, something to look back on through our whole lives, through good and bad times.

    We circle seven times, have seven blessings, all very significant as part of a larger tradition and and history. The whole experience has a great sense of warmth, you feel at the centre of things yet very connected to others.

    We feel very taken care of with our photos and the understanding given to our traditions and special moments!

    Thankyou!

    Alex and Gila

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