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Five Essential Elements of a Jewish Marriage

Sep 5, 2008
If you ever been to a traditional Jewish Marriage ceremony you probably noticed that there are several things that make a Jewish wedding stand out from other types of religious weddings. A Jewish wedding has many rituals and customs that have been passed down through centuries and each ritual serves as a reminder as the past and as a symbol of hope for the future.

Five rituals and elements that set Jewish weddings apart from other types of weddings are:

1. The Ketubah -- A ketubah is a marriage contract that details the rights, privileges and obligations of each person in the marriage. The ketubah is read before the marriage ceremony and after the marriage it's usually kept on display in the couple's home.

Today a ketubah is mostly symbolic, but in the past it was an important document that protected the rights of a woman in marriage.

2. The Chupah -- A chupah is a wooden canopy that is usually ornately carved with traditional Jewish designs and is supported by four long, thin poles. The marriage ceremony takes place under this canopy as a symbol of the home that the couple is creating together. The chupah is open on all sides to symbolize the couple's home being open and welcoming for children, family and friends.

3. Walking Together -- In a traditional Christian wedding the bride walks down the aisle accompanied by her father or a close male relative or friend who will "give her away" to the groom who is standing at the front of the church or hall.

In a traditional Jewish marriage ceremony the couple walks down the aisle together, accompanied by their parents, as a symbol of the life they are now starting together with the blessing of their parents.

4. The Breaking of the Glass -- At the conclusion of the ceremony a glass is placed on the ground, usually wrapped in a towel or cloth so it doesn't shatter and fly everywhere, and the groom breaks it with his heel.

There are two meanings for this tradition. One tradition holds that the broken glass is a symbol of the permanence of the marriage because the marriage will last as long as the glass is broken, which is forever. Another interpretation says that the glass is broken to remind everyone that even while they are celebrating there are people all over the world who are suffering.

5. The Badeken -- This ceremony is usually only done by very devout Jews during very traditional weddings. This ceremony takes place before the wedding. In this ceremony the groom veils the bride before she goes out for the service as a symbol that he loves her for more than just her physical beauty.
About the Author
Eternal Jewish Family (http://www.eternaljewishfamily.org) offers consultation and advice to ensure a proper Jewish marriage according to orthodox Jewish law. They can provide the things you need to be legitimate. The author, Art Gib, is a freelance writer.
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