Aufruf & Weddings
The Aufruf is a communal acknowledgment of an upcoming Jewish wedding. In German/Yiddush, Aufruf literally means, "to call up." While traditionally done the Shabbat just prior to a wedding, in modern times many couples have the Aufruf on any Shabbat in the weeks preceding the wedding. In the Separdic tradition, Aufruf is done the Shabbat after the wedding.
The Jewish wedding ceremony has three distinct parts: Ketubah, Bedeken, and Chuppah. Most people are more familiar with the ceremony or Chuppah portion of the wedding, but in more traditional circles, the Ketubah and Bedeken are equally prominent traditions of the wedding.
The first part of the wedding ceremony is the signing of the Ketubah or marriage contract. The Ketubah outlines the moral and financial obligations the Bride and Groom have to each other. The traditional text of a Ketubah is in Aramaic. Today, most modern Ketubot also include an English translation. Two witnesses sign the Ketubah in the presence of the couple and their families. While this contract can be a simple document, many couples choose a beautifully designed Ketubah that is also a work of art.
Next is the Bedeken, when the Groom lowers the veil over the Bride’s face. This gives the Groom the opportunity to see his Bride, thus ensuring that he was not deceived into marrying the wrong woman, as happened to Jacob when he married Leah instead of Rachel (Genesis 29:23).
The final part of the wedding, which is the most familiar, is the ceremony or Chuppah. The Chuppah is the wedding canopy, under which the ceremony takes place, symbolizing the couple’s new home. Once all of the parties have reached the Chuppah, many couples will perform the traditional ritual of circling. Traditionally, the Bride circles the Groom seven times, symbolizing the creation of their new family, however in contemporary weddings, oftentimes the groom circles the bride three times, followed by the bride circling the groom three times. For the seventh circle, bride and groom join hands and walk a complete circle.
The Kiddush blessing over the wine is recited and the Bride and Groom will drink from the same Kiddush cup. The Groom places a ring on the Bride’s right index finger and recites “Behold you are consecrated to me with this ring according to the laws of Moses and Israel.” The bride then follows suit. Couples may also use this part of the wedding to read vows that they have written for each other.
Next, is the reading of the Ketubah. A second cup of wine is then filled and the sheva brachot – or seven marriage blessings – are read by the Rabbi or Cantor. These blessings express the joy of creation and of two people uniting. At the conclusion of the ceremony, it is traditional for the Groom to stomp on and break a glass, which symbolizes the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Once the glass is broken, it is customary for all to cheer Mazel Tov!
Usually all in attendance will enjoy a celebratory meal after the ceremony. In more traditional Jewish circles, for the seven days following the wedding, friends and family invite the new couple for festive dinners at their homes and the sheva brachot are recited again each night.