You may have been to a hundred Jewish weddings, or this may be your first time. Either way, we can’t wait to celebrate with you!
We met through Jewish learning, and flirted through Jewish learning, and have continued to learn together as a couple. We have put a lot of thought and heart into our wedding ceremony. In general, we have tried to create a ceremony that imbues the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony with the values in which we believe and that reflects the community we seek to be part of.
On the day itself, the ceremony will be officiated by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, together with Alma’s father, Rabbi Daniel Smith, and they will ensure that everyone can follow. But for those too eager to wait, below we have collected some aspects of what you’re likely to experience.
Chuppah – Wedding Canopy
As you come into the synagogue hall, you will see a wedding canopy which will have been decorated by Daniel’s mum Berit, and her friends (thank you!). This canopy is called a chuppah and the wedding ceremony will take place underneath it. The chuppah symbolises the home that we will create together. It is open on all sides to represent the importance of being hospitable and welcoming in our future life together.
The Jewish marriage ceremony goes back over two thousand years. Some parts of it are legally required in order to be married according to Jewish law. Other parts are customary. The main two legal parts are called erusin – betrothal, and nisu’in – marriage. Historically, these two ceremonies were sometimes separated by a period of time. Now they almost always come together as one wedding ceremony.
As we walk towards the chuppah, each with our parents, we invite all of you to sing this song – Mi Ban Siach. We have had a lot of fun trying to figure out where the words come from. Alma’s mum, Chani, has been the chief detective. Read all about it here!
Erusin – Betrothal
The betrothal consists of a blessing over wine, and a betrothal blessing said by our mesader kiddushin, the person officiating the wedding. This blessing affirms that the relationship between the two individuals is permitted and exclusive.
Kiddushin – Exchange of Rings
In traditional Jewish weddings the groom gives a ring to the bride. By the bride’s acceptance of the ring, the marriage is considered valid. In our ceremony, we will both give and receive rings under the chuppah, as a symbol of our mutual love and respect. That is also why we’ve chosen the quote, I am my beloved’s – my beloved is mine, from Song of Songs as the motto for our wedding.
Nisu’in – Marriage
The marriage ceremony requires the chuppah, the ketubah, the sheva brachot, the seven blessings to the couple. It also incudes the breaking the glass and, afterwards, a short time for us to be alone together.
Ketubah – Marriage Contract
The ketubah is the Jewish marriage contract. In creating our ketubah, our marriage contract, we have read many ketubot from all sorts of places, from 10th century Syria to modern Israel and America. We have created the text of our ketubah by weaving together several different strands from different times and places, whilst staying true to the traditional textual intent.
Our ketubah also includes an additional statement of the kind of home we are hoping to create, one that hopefully will be filled with Jewish learning and open wide to family and friends (that means you!). Alma’s dad, Rabbi Daniel Smith will read the text and explain each element of the marriage contract.
Sheva Brachot – Seven Blessings
Seven blessings will be sung in Hebrew by Daniel’s dad, Micha. They cover a range of themes, from the wonder of Creation to the joy of the couple, and the celebration of the community. If you want to read more these blessings, see here. An eight, additional blessings will be sung by Alma’s mum, Chani (see below).
Breaking the Glass
At the end of the ceremony both Alma and Daniel will break a glass. Many explanations are given for this ancient ritual but almost all share the idea that we should remember, even in the most joyful moments, that there is sorrow and brokenness in the world. Once this is done, the wedding will be completed and we will be married. Assembled guests shout Mazaltov!
Yichud – A Moment of Seclusion and Togetherness
After the ceremony, we invite you all to sing and dance us to a room where we will have the opportunity to be together just the two of us. After about 10 minutes together, we will join you again to dance and celebrate together!
For our Wedding Booklet given to guests, see here.
For a generic version of the text of our ketubah in Hebrew and English, see here.
For a closer look at the sources as well as our thinking around the wedding ceremony, see here.
For a recording of the Eight Blessing, composed and performed by Chani Smith, click below.
To listen to a bit of Dan’s tish, including the remarks of Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and Rabbi Michael Melchior, click below.
– Alma & Dan