Wedding Explanation

The Jewish wedding ritual has been in a state of near constant evolution since the systems were initially codified thousands of years ago. As recently as the middle ages, for instance, there were still two separate wedding rituals, an agreement of terms followed by a marriage ceremony months later. You can read more about the history here. Recent innovations are often designed to make the experience gender balanced and focused on a life of commitment and mutuality rather than a property transaction framed in terms acquisition. Lest this overview seem overly academic we’ll talk about the actual things that will happen from here on out.


We will be called up to the torah for an aliyah on Saturday morning in the context of otherwise normal (songful!) Saturday morning services. This ceremony is called aufruf, which, in Yiddish, means “calling up.” After reciting the blessings, our friend Ethan will offer a misheberach blessing. Since we’ll be up at the Torah, it’s really up to you guys to decide what happens next. We may be pelted with candies of various sorts. There may be dancing of a festive variety.

Saturday Night/Havdalah

As shabbat gives way to the weak ahead, havdalah marks the transition with a sweet nostalgia that turns into an upbeat optimistic celebration of what lies ahead. This ritual will be part of the Saturday evening event which will also feature dessert, toasting, roasting, and merrymaking of all kinds.

Wedding Day

The communal events begin at Adat Shalom synagogue at 11:15 with a tisch. Tisch is the German and Yiddish (טיש) word for table. Historically a groom would stand at said table and attempt to deliver scholarly remarks on that week’s torah portion. The guests would interrupt and generally make trouble by inserting songs, heckling, and otherwise insuring the event is more boisterous than illuminating. Borrowing an innovation from our friends Lev and Eliana, we will both attempt to offer words toghether in a joint tisch. All are invited to derail the conversation as much as possible. If you’d like more ideas contact Russ Agdern (Ragdern at gmail dot com). At the conclusion of the tisch, once our silliness muscles are beginning to tire , we will transition to a more solemn emotional space, the sort in which one makes serious commitments.

We will begin creating that space by dressing eachother in special garments during bedeken (Yiddish: באַדעקן). These simple garments (shrouds) will be part of our lives forever. Someday we will be buried in them. The kittel (shroud) is a very powerful symbol of the permanence of this commitment. We will then review the ketuba (Hebrew: כתובה), a document that articulates our vision for a life together. While we do that, y’all will move to the sanctuary to get ready for the huppah portion of the day.

The huppah (Hebrew: חוּפָּה‎) is a canopy that we will stand under for the main wedding ceremony. The wedding canopy, symbolizes the home that we will build together as a couple, supported by our families and friends. It is open on all four sides to emphasize the value of hospitality and welcoming the stranger.* We appreciate all the work our friend Ali Stein has done in spearheading project huppah! The ceremony proper is made up of two pieces, erusin and nissuin.  First, we will be welcomed to the chuppah with an ancient greeting. Next, the blessing over a cup of wine, the symbol of joy and sanctification, will be recited. We will exchange rings and then read from our ketuba, the document we wrote that speaks about our commitments to each other. Next we will begin the second act of the cermony, nissuin. It consists of seven blessings (sheva berachot) recited under the chuppah over a cup of wine. The blessings connect us to creation, humanity, and tradition, and express our hope for a day when all people will be able to experience joy and peace. Aviva, Danny, and Nomi will handle this singing, with help from all of you.

Next comes the iconic breaking of the glass. It symbolizes many things. While we are experiencing a joyous event, we recognize that the world is a fragile and broken place. Breaking the glass reminds us of our obligation to repair and heal the world and the place that obligation has at the core of our relationship. Another meaningful idea is that the irrevocability of breaking the glass reflects the permanence of our marriage-may it be as hard to break apart as the glass would be to put back together! Finally, we recognize that the institution of marriage needs mending, and we hope for and work towards the day when all people, regardless of sexual orientation, will be able to have their marriages recognized by religious and secular authorities. After we break the glass we will zip out of the sanctuary and to a special space where can share our first time together as married people. You are invited  to follow but may run into difficulty if you try to breach our protective detail. Sushil and Peggy are terrifyingly fierce.

*Thanks to Russ and Marisa for some of this text!


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