As I am sure you are all aware I got married at the beginning of October (this will be the last you will hear about it I promise!) I thought I would write an article about my very special Jewish Wedding.
Writing this article has been something that I have been thinking about for a while, but like so many young Jewish people I get scared. I worry about letting people into my identity and parts of my life due to many difficulties that the Jewish community face, (like many other religions and cultures). I hope to inspire you all to always be kind to each other, open our minds to each other’s cultures, religions and traditions.
Marrying somebody Jewish was always important to me, I have always thought ahead about the traditions that I would like to keep, my identity and how my Jewish home would be for when we start a family. Fast forward Zak, my Essex boy. Coming from two different families but with similar views towards Jewish life and fortunately with the same view of the importance of marriage. I knew I swiped right for a good’n!
The build-up, as with any modern wedding, involved a parents WhatsApp group and trying to avoid having too many opinions over those important decisions, like the colour of the napkins! Part of the preparation for our wedding also included many sessions with the Rabbi who married us. These sessions taught us about the meaning of marriage and how we will always need to work hard and communicate with each other. He spoke about the importance of romance and that its about the little things to make sure that we appreciate each other. Even though Zak and I have been living together for a while, this opened our eyes out to our journey that was ahead of us. It gave us an appreciation of becoming husband and wife away from the madness of planning a wedding, we felt as if we were starting fresh.
The week before the wedding, we lived apart and decided that we wouldn’t have any contact at all, giving us time to reflect and making that first moment we saw each other on the day even more special.
The first time the groom sees his bride is a part of the wedding called the Bedeken. Zak signed the Jewish marriage certificate, promising to look after his bride and once signed he gets taken into the Bedeken room by the fathers and brothers to meet, me, his bride.
In Judaism we are taught that love is more than just about physical beauty, which is why a veil is worn. The groom then covers the brides face with the veil to focus on inner beauty and qualities, rather than just physical beauty. This made the first meeting between me and Zak very spiritual and is something special that we will never forget.
The Jewish ceremony takes place under a Chuppah. This is a four posted canopy where the bride, groom, Rabbi and both sets of parents stand. My mum made our Chuppah and it was held up by mine and Zak’s brothers. The Chuppah symbolises our first home and the start of our married life, the four open sides symbolises that everyone will always be welcome into our home as a married couple.
Once under the Chuppah the bride circles the groom seven times, (luckily I wasn’t the one needing to keep count!). The number seven is important in the Jewish Religion. It is believed that G-d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. The number seven symbolises completion and holiness within time and space, appropriate for the bride and groom who are about to start their married life.
Seven blessings for the bride and groom are sung under the Chuppah, these seven blessings are beautiful and are sung over a cup of wine which we then drink, these blessings are given to us for the rest of our lives. The seventh which is the longest blessing blesses G-d for creating “joy and happiness, Groom and Bride, gladness, jubilation, cheer and delight, love, friendship, harmony and fellowship.”
The number seven also features in the giving of the ring as it goes on the seventh finger. Only one ring is needed in Jewish law which is given to the Bride. The ring must be completely plain without diamonds or inscriptions to symbolise that our love isn’t based on any monetary value.
A part that you may have seen in the movies is the smashing of the glass. A wedding in the Jewish religion is full of so much jubilation! It is said that when Jewish people are joyous, they should also remember less joyous times in our history. The song sung before the smashing of the glass means ‘If I forget you, Jerusalem’ to commemorate the falling of Jerusalem and destruction of the two Jewish temples that once stood there, we will never allow them to be forgotten even on the brightest days.
Smashing the glass is probably Zak’s most nerve-wracking moment of the day (its bad luck not to break it first time, thankfully he did!) marking the end of the Chuppah and the start of our married life! I am sure you have all heard ‘Mazel Tov’ from the black-eyed peas song, this is sung and then the celebrations begin!
This part of my life that I am sharing with you makes me feel vulnerable and I hope it has given you an insight to mine and Zak’s wedding day and our Jewish wedding.
I hope this has inspired you to open up to your HCPA colleagues about your religions and cultures. It is easy to hide away and not talk about these things, but by hiding away we miss out on educating each other and creating change.
If you have any questions or would like to see more pictures let me know and we can have a cuppa together and chat more.
Lots of love, Verity