Kaufman describes traditional wedding customs, some of which may not be observed by many liberal Jews. In some communities, many traditional customs are retained, although they are practiced in more egalitarian ways.
The traditional Jewish wedding begins with separate simultaneous receptions by the groom and the bride for the wedding guests.
The Bride’s Reception
The bride’s reception is usually the livelier one. It is an old tradition, referred to in the Talmud, for the bride to sit on an attractive throne. Surrounded by her attendants, close family members, and friends, she receives guests and well wishers. As the musicians play, her friends dance in front of her.
The Groom’s Tisch
The groom’s reception (Yiddish: hoson’s tisch) for men is held at a table laden with food and drink. Seated adjacent to the groom are his father and the bride’s father, surrounded by the rabbis. Around the table are male guests, relatives, and friends of the groom, who toast the groom and sing. [Today, many grooms opt to have female friends and relatives at their tish as well.] Often, the room in which the groom’s reception is held is where the late-afternoon Mincha prayer service takes place.
It is customary for a groom to deliver (or attempt to deliver) a learned discourse at the tisch (“table”). But traditionally he is interrupted by his friends shortly after beginning, with lively singing and rhythmic clapping in which all present join to prevent him from continuing. This custom is not intended as an affront or as an act of disrespect to the groom, but is designed to protect the groom who may be less than scholarly, lest he be shamed on what should be his most joyous day.
In many Hasidic circles, a badhan, or professional wedding jester, would be employed at the tisch to entertain the assembled guests, by toasting the groom in rhymed couplets sung in traditional tunes.
The most crucial procedure at the groom’s reception is the completion and validation of the ketubah, the marriage contract. The ketubah is carefully reviewed by the rabbi to determine that all details are correct.
The groom then formally accepts all the unilateral obligations to which he commits himself in the ketubah by executing a kinyan sudar, a traditional legal consent and agreement process. The officiating rabbi hands him a small article of clothing such as a handkerchief, and the groom, before two witnesses (who may not be close relatives of bride or groom), takes it and lifts it up symbolically to affirm consent, before returning it to the rabbi.
At the conclusion of this procedure, called kinyan, a scribe or the rabbi then adds to the end of the ketubah text the Aramaic word v’kanina (and we have properly concluded the legal act of transference), and the witnesses sign to affirm the groom’s acceptance, through the act of kinyan, of all the conditions of the ketubah document, thereby validating the ketubah. In some communities, it is customary for the groom also to sign it.
The Veiling Ceremony
The groom is then escorted by his father and the bride’s father, the rabbis, the dignitaries, and the others in his retinue to the bridal reception area for the veiling ceremony, known in Yiddish as the bedeken (Hebrew, hinuma). Accompanied by his friends, who dance and sing in front of him, the groom leads the procession to the bride. He approaches the bridal throne and covers the bride’s face with a veil (Yiddish, dektich). He is then escorted back to the groom’s reception room by the men, to prepare for the huppah ceremony [the public marriage ceremony that takes place under the marriage canopy, or huppah].
The veiling ceremony dates back at least to early medieval times, and some find a reference to the custom in the Talmud. The reason for the ceremony is probably related to modesty; the veil symbolically represents the added level of modesty the bride is expected to adopt with her elevation to the married state. The Torah relates that when Rebecca saw her bridegroom Isaac coming toward her, “she took her veil and covered herself.” The bedeken ceremony thus recalls to all Jewish brides the matriarch’s gesture of modesty at seeing her bridegroom, inspiring them to emulate their biblical forebears and conduct themselves with an elevated level of modesty in their married lives.
Some ascribe the custom of the bride’s veiling to her position of centrality at the wedding, and the possibility that some men, undisciplined in their thoughts, might cast lustful eyes at her. The veiling accordingly underscores that, from this day on, the beauty of the bride is reserved for her husband alone to appreciate. Others see in the ritual a symbolic act directing attention away from the physical toward the spiritual at the wedding, constituting a public demonstration by the groom that his interest in the bride lies not in her beauty, but in the deeper, inner qualities of her character which, unlike her physical beauty, will not disappear in time.
There is also a rabbinic opinion that the tradition has a legal basis, as it symbolizes the groom’s public obligation to clothe his wife, and is thus a procedure which is an integral part of the legal marriage process.
In some communities it is not the groom, but the rabbi who performs the veiling procedure. When the rabbi veils the bride, he often simultaneously recites to the bride the biblical blessing that Rebecca’s handmaidens gave her: “O sister! May you grow into thousands of myriads.”
The tradition of Hasidim and some Oriental Jews, and the old Jerusalem community, is for the veil to be opaque, to assure that the bride’s entire face is covered for the wedding ceremony, so that she can neither see nor be seen.
Preparing for the Huppah
When he returns to his reception room from the bedeken, the groom is readied for the huppah ceremony by his attendants. As the groom, on his wedding day, is compared to a king, he does not don his garments as he does ordinarily, but is dressed by his attendants. The garment worn is usually a kittel, a simple white cotton robe.
It is customary for the groom to wear a white garment, a symbol of purity for this ceremony, to emphasize that this day is, for him, like Yom Kippur, when he is to repent, and be forgiven for all his sins. The prophet Isaiah declares, “If your sins are like scarlet, they shall become as white as snow. For the same reason the bride wears white. The white garments serve as a symbolic reminder to bride and groom that they must henceforth take care to keep clear of sin, thereby fulfilling Solomon’s directive in Ecclesiastes, “At all times take care that your garments be white.”
The white garments also signify that, apart from the commitment they make to each other on the day of their kiddushin [betrothal–the first part of the marriage ceremony], they are also making a solemn commitment to God to conduct their lives in an elevated manner.
The kittel the groom dons is also reminiscent of the white shroud he will wear when he dies. It thus serves as a poignant reminder on the happiest day of his life of the eventual day of his death. This pointed recollection of his mortality on his wedding day is designed to bring him down to earth, to underscore that henceforth he should pursue a life of meaning, and not one of empty, petty desires.
There are no pockets in the kittel. Just as the absence of pockets in a shroud indicates that a person takes nothing material with him when he dies, the groom, wearing a pocketless kittel that is compared to a shroud, is reminded of this at his wedding. It also serves as a pointer to the bride that she accepts him for what he is, and not for his possessions. For the same reason it is customary in many circles for the bride not to wear jewelry at the huppah.
The sages also see the kittel as a symbol that the bridal couple should view their marital bond as a lasting one, continuing until the day of their death.
In some circles, it is customary for the kittel to be worn under the grooms outer garments.
In many areas it is customary for the attendants of the groom to place ashes on the groom’s head at this time, in commemoration of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. This is an ancient custom that is referred to in the Talmud. Some leave the ashes on only during the huppah ceremony, and remove them immediately thereafter.
Reprinted with permission from Love, Marriage, and Family in Jewish Law and Tradition, published by Jason Aronson Publishers.
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Tish (Hasidic celebration)
Not to be confused with Shabbat meals.
A tische (Yiddish: טיש, lit. 'table', pl.טישן, tischn) is a Shabbat or holidays gathering for Hasidic Jews around their Rabbi or "Rebbe". In Chabad, a tische is called hitveadut (התועדות). It may consist of speeches on Torah subjects, singing of melodies known as niggunim (singular niggun) and zemirot ("hymns"), with refreshments being served. Hasidim see it as a moment of great holiness.
Within Hasidic Judaism, a tische refers to any joyous public celebration or gathering or meal by Hasidim at a "table" of their Rebbe. Such a gathering is staged around the blessing of Melchizedek-themed "setting of the table" and so is often referred to in Hebrew as Arichat HaShulchan (עריכת השולחן). Bread and wine are essential elements.
During a tische, the Rebbe sits at the head of the table and the Hasidim gather around the table. In large Hasidic movements, only the Rebbe and his immediate family, plus a few close disciples, partake of the actual meal, but small pieces of bread, fish, meat, poultry, farfel, beans, kugel, or fruit, as well as small cups of wine or other beverages, are distributed to all present as shiyarim (שיריים). In such large courts, there are often bleachers, known as parentches (פארענטשעס) in Yiddish, for observers of the tische to stand on. In smaller courts there is usually more food available for observers to partake. Often, in both large and small tischen, the Rebbe will personally distribute shirayim food to individuals. Hasidim believe that the Rebbe will have a personal blessing for each person who partakes of the food he gives them.
In some Hasidic movements, the Rebbe only eats his Shabbat meals at the tische, often waiting many hours until the Hasidim have finished their meals to begin his meal with the recitation of the Kiddush prayer. In other courts, the Rebbe begins his meal at home with his family, and then comes to join the Hasidim in the synagogue to end the meal. In yet other courts, the entire tische is conducted after the meal has been finished at home. In such a case only dessert, usually consisting of kugel and fruit, is served, as well as soft drinks, usually seltzer-water. Such tisches are known as a Peiros Tische (פירות טיש) ("Fruit Tische").
The nature of the tische differs from group to group but during the tische, the Hasidim intently and silently watch the rebbe eating the meal and are extremely eager to receive shirayim ("leftovers"), cooked alongside the Rebbe's courses, believing it to be a great merit (zechus) to eat something from the leftovers of a tzadik's meal. Many Hasidim claim that miracles can take place in merit of partaking of the shirayim, such as miraculous healing or blessings of wealth or piety.
Hasidic songs, or niggunim, are sung with great gusto. The songs may at times be either joyous or solemnly meditative. The rebbe may teach words of Torah, often mystical passages from the Midrash, Zohar, and the Kabbalah during the tische. He may also tell Hasidic stories, parables, and history. He may also give religious commentary on current events and politics.
Women do not sit with the men (because some communities of Orthodox Jews, especially Hasidim, are very strict about the gender separation) but they are often present to observe the tische from the ezras noshim ("women's section") in the main synagogue or hall where it is taking place. The women present do not sing aloud and they generally do not receive the shirayim, although sometimes they do.
A tische can vary in size from a handful to thousands of people. Large tischen are usually held in special rooms in the main building of a Hasidic movement. Sometimes they are held in the main synagogue. Around the holidays, when thousands of Hasidim who live in other cities or countries come to pray and visit with their Rebbe joining the Hasidim who live near the Rebbe and things can get very crowded, they are sometimes held in a large temporary structure. Small tischen are often conducted in private homes, particularly when a Hasidic Rebbe is visiting another community. As public events, non-Hasidic Jews and Hasidim of a one rebbe may also visit the tische of another Rebbe. Non-Jews sometimes visit a tische as well, particularly dignitaries and politicians, during a weekday tish such as on Chol HaMoed.
A tische takes place at the meals in honor of the Shabbat, Jewish holidays, yahrzeit ("annual memorial") for previous rebbes of that dynasty, as a seudas hoda'ah (meal of thanksgiving) to God for past salvations (such as escape from prisons or from the Holocaust), or some other seudas mitzvah.
Some Hasidic movements hold a tische every Shabbat; others do so only on Jewish holidays. The time at which a tische can be held also differs. For example, Belzer Hasidim conduct their tische both late Friday night and on Saturday afternoon for Seudah Shlishit, while Gerrer Hasidim only have their tische on Saturday afternoon or early evening for Seudah Shlishit.
A tische is usually also held on minor holidays such as Lag BaOmer, Hanukkah, Purim, Tu Bishvat, on the minor days (Chol Hamoed) of major festivals Sukkos and Pesach, and before and after the fast of Yom Kippur.
Sometimes, a Hasidic gathering similar to a tische is conducted without the presence of a Rebbe. This is called a botteh (באטע) in Yiddish or a shevet achim (שבת אחים) in Hebrew. It is often led by a Rabbi who is not a Rebbe, such as a Rosh Yeshivah, Mashgiach Ruchani, or a Rebbe's son. Often, a botteh will be indistinguishable from a tische, for the respect that many Hasidim have for their Rebbe's son is often very close to the reverence for the Rebbe himself, as he is the assumed heir to the throne.
Main article: Farbrengen
Among Lubavitcher Hasidim, a gathering known as a farbrengen (Yiddish: פארברענגען, lit. 'gathering') is celebrated, similar to a tish. A farbrengen may be conducted with or without the presence of a Rebbe, and even with the presence of only a few Hasidim. At a farbrengen, zemiros are generally not sung (with the exception of the zemiros of the Arizal for each Sabbath meal), but rather only niggunim.
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What is The Tisch at a Jewish Wedding?
The Tisch is a custom of the Jewish Wedding that has become more popular these days. Why you may ask? Well when you understand what the Tisch is, you’ll understand why! The Tisch occurs before the Jewish Wedding Ceremony takes place and basically involves the Groom spending time with the boys! We say boys, but we mean family, friends, the Rabbi and any other male participants.
The men sit round the table (the “tisch”) that has been laid with food and usually lots of whiskey and generally speaking, the Groom enjoys some boy time before the ceremony. Singing, chanting and lively behaviour is what occurs whilst the Groom prepares for the wonderful event that is soon to follow.
There is one ceremonial part to The Tisch, when the Rabbi reads through the Ketubah (the Jewish marriage certificate) often to cheers from the congregants. This ensures the Groom is aware of his obligations as a Jewish married man. He may then sign the Ketubah along with a witness. At this point he may be lifted on a chair to more singing and celebrations.
The Tisch is a Jewish Wedding tradition that is not a necessity and some Grooms will prefer to be greeting guests or mentally preparing themselves for their forthcoming wedding.
At the end of the Tisch, the groom will leave the room accompanied by his father, father-in-law and possibly best men and will go and see his bride for the first time for the Badeken ceremony.
For more information on The Jewish Wedding Traditions, click here
Tisch is Yiddish for "table". This is a ritual where, before the formal wedding ceremony, each member of the couple has a separate reception room. There the hors d'oeuvres can be found or light refreshments to stave off hunger pangs before the big reception. In each room one side of the family and guests gather to tell humorous or remarkable stories about the member of the marrying couple they have known longest and to offer wishes and blessings.
Some follow a tradition of the person about to be married giving a scholarly teaching at this time. Roasting is common, and some communities interrupt the person's very serious, planned teaching with folk songs that pick up in a silly way on the theme of their "scholarly" lecture. This all becomes a time of loosening up after travel, of tightening the circle of intimacy, of sharing stories that bind together this kehillah, "community" of the moment in shared history.
1. Appoint an trusty friend or relative as organizer for each tisch. Their job is to make sure the room set-up is finalized, to pre-seed shills in the audience who are prepared to speak, and work with or be song-meisters to punctuate the experience with joyful and humorous song.
2. Plan an hour for this, fifteen minutes for folks to hang up their coats, find the right room, get settled, half an hour for the festivities, and fifteen minutes for them to move on to the next ritual space and those being feted to re-center.
3. Alternatively, you might do as we did, and interrupt the wedding reception with a pair of friends who some up to lead a roasting/testimony to you as individuals and a couple. This is a good time to take a page from the lives of our Russian-speaking Jewish friends, invite everyone to formulate a toast and offer it, along with a bit of a story or a blessing. If too many people cue up, alternate dancing and sharing.
4. Provide name tags, color-coded for your friends and which side of the family/friendship. Many more people will talk to each other more freely when the initial barrier and embarrassment of establishing identification has been set aside. Be sure to ask how people want their names to appear on your response form for the wedding invitation. Recently extended family listed me, Rabbi Goldie Milgram under my husband's name as Mrs. Goldie Bub! As it's a family gathering, I didn't say a word save to email my correct name a few weeks later "for future reference."
Whether you’re religious or not, participating in Jewish wedding traditions is an experience of a lifetime! I always get excited to photograph Jewish weddings because they’re filled with deep intentionality and epic celebrations. It is such a beautiful and fun balance!
What are some Jewish Wedding Traditions?
If you are unfamiliar with Judaism, it varies from Orthodox, traditional to modern. Having knowledge of what to expect ahead of time will ensure that you aren’t left in the dark. It will give you more confidence in celebrating a Jewish wedding, and who knows, the experience may compel you to learn even more about the faith and culture. Even some of my own friends have converted to Judaism because they are so into their religion!
Traditionally, this was the bride’s celebration where friends and family came in to celebrate with her. This happens before the ceremony, but now this may happen in conjunction with the Groom’s Table (see below).
The Groom’s Table is a place for pre-ceremony gathering with food, drink, and festivities. The groom and men of the wedding party prepares together.
Marriage is a symbolic covenant, so just like Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, some couples fast. Leading up to their first dinner together after the ceremony. This Jewish Wedding Tradition is not done too often, more in the traditional weddings.
This is one of the most beautiful Jewish traditions. Similar to a First Look, the bedeken is the veiling of the bride by her groom-to-be. It’s an intimate moment where the groom reverently covers her face with the veil. It is to symbolize that they are two distinct people even in marriage and that he values her inner beauty.
As one of the oldest Jewish traditions, this document is part of Jewish civil law. It outlines the bride and groom’s responsibilities to one another. Similar to secular prenuptial, it is a legal document that describes various protections and rights. The document is signed before two witnesses and then read to guests before the ceremony.
Walk to the Chuppah
This is another sweet tradition where the groom’s parents walk him to the chuppah – or alter. The bride and her parents follow soon after.
Just like any other wedding, the wedding ceremony consists of the couple exchanging vows under the chuppah (alter). However, a Jewish altar is very distinct. It has four corners like a roof symbolizing the new life together as a couple.
This has taken on many forms over the years. Traditionally, the bride would circle around her groom as protection from evil. Also, it can symbolize the creation of a new family and the couple may circle around together.
Erusin or Kiddushin
This is the actual betrothal part of the ceremony. They share a glass of wine and complete the ring consecrations.
The second part of the ceremony is where the nuptials are recited.
Sheva B’rachot: Seven Blessings
The seven blessings are an ancient ritual where family and friends can speak blessings. Sometimes (with wine) similar to non-religious toasts. They may be given in Hebrew and/or English.
Glass or Plate Breaking
This is one of the most well-known Jewish traditions. Most think it is celebratory, when in fact it may represent the destruction of the Temple. It is to symbolize that marriage has both difficult and joyful times.
You’ve probably heard shouts of “Mazel tov!” at mitzvahs or weddings, but what does the cheer mean? In Yiddish, the direct translation is similar to “Good luck!” or “Congratulations!”
This is a time set aside for the newlyweds to rejoice privately together – usually for about 20 minutes. They may enjoy their first meal or even a sweet bite together to relish the moment!
Blessings over challah bread. Usually performed by grandfather or uncles.
This Jewish Wedding Tradition is reserved for parents of the last child to be married. The parents sit in the center of the dance floor with crowns on their heads, while people dance around them and congratulate them. I personally love this Yiddish song of the Mizinke that Milla Jovovic sings! Her voice is so good!
Get ready to dance the hora at a Jewish wedding reception. Everyone dances in a circle and lifts the bride and groom up in chairs in the middle of the circle. You might even see a few festive kicks in there. It’s impossible to not join in on the fun!
A fun “scissor-step” dance – similar to a quadrille – you might see at the reception.
The grand finale! The reception’s festive meal is concluded with blessings.
After blessings, the couples’ glasses of wine are poured into a third glass to symbolizing their marriage. Cheers to the newlyweds!
As a wedding photographer who has photographed tons of Jewish wedding traditions, I can answer any questions you may have, or even photograph your big day! Contact me here.
Tight stream of urine hit my head. The cutting stream poured over my face and body, under the pressure my lips involuntarily opened, and I avidly swallowed the foaming. Stream. Satisfied in this way to the end, dad put me under the warm tight jets of the shower, washing away the traces of his passion from my body. I obediently turned in front of him, and he penetrated his fingers into all the nooks and crannies of my body, fingering and fingering my labia.
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His hips were hidden under a kind of skirt, made of multi-colored patches of different lengths, in his right hand he held a long spear. He looked the same age as Sveta and, judging by the raised tone in his voice, he was very unhappy with the presence of a woman. At the ritual.