What's that thing their standing under?
The huppah or canopy, which is made of cloth stretched between poles, symbolizes the new home of the couple and
is often carried by the attendants to the position where the marriage ceremony will take place. In many weddings the huppah
is already in place. The groom's parents walk him to the huppah, where they stand together awaiting the bride.
While a cantor sings from the Song of Songs, the bride is accompanied to the huppah by her parents. When she arrives,
the bride circles the groom. In some traditions, the mothers of the bride and groom circle him as well. The circles are thought
to protect the groom from evil. It's also a way for the bride to symbolically bind herself to the groom and begin a new family
circle. Some brides circle three times, others seven times, according to different interpretations.
Why smoosh a perfectly good glass?
This custom dates back to Talmudic
times, and symbolizes the idea of our keeping Jerusalem and Israel in our minds even at times of our joy. Just as the Temple
in Jerusalem is destroyed, so we break a utensil to show our identification with the sorrow of Jewish exile.
Aliyah: "To go up" in Hebrew, common term for the honor of reciting a blessing before and
after a Torah reading.
Aufruf: Ceremony in which the groom (and bride) are honored with an aliyah on the
Shabbat before the wedding.
Aramaic: Semitic language related to Hebrew.
Ashkenazi: Jews of Eastern
and Central European descent.
Badchan: Emcee of wedding celebration.
B'deken: Veiling of bride before
the wedding ceremony.
Benchers: Prayer booklets containing the blessings for a meal.
Birkat Hamazon: Blessings
recited after a meal.
Chatan: Hebrew word for groom.
Challah: Braided bread used at celebrations.
Yiddish word for groom.
Erusin: Betrothal ceremony.
Ha-Motzi: Blessing recited over bread.
Aht: Aramaic phrase recited during the ring ceremony.
Hava Nagila: Traditional Klezmer song played at
Henna: A plant dye used to stain the skin of brides.
The beautification of a ritual object.
Hora: Celebratory dance in which bride and groom are lifted up on chairs.
Kallah: Hebrew word for bride.
Kashrut: Jewish dietary law.
Kiddush: Blessing said over wine.
Kiddushin: Betrothal ceremony.
Kinyan: An act to
demonstrate one's free will.
Kippot: Head coverings.
Kittel: Short, white ceremonial robe worn by groom
on wedding day, also worn on holy days.
Klezmer: Traditional Yiddish celebratory music.
Kosher: Food that
meets Jewish dietary restrictions.
Krenzel: Yiddish word for crown. Common term for the honorary dance Mezinke
Tanz in reference to the crown of flowers placed in the mother of the brides hair during the dance.
Exclamation meaning, "Good Luck!"
Mesader Kiddushin: One who officated or leads the wedding ceremony.
Tanz: Dance to honor parents who have married off their last child.
Mikvah: Ritual bath.
Mitzvah: A good deed.
Mizrahi: Jews of Middle Eastern descent.
Nissuin: Nuptial ceremony.
de Bano: Sephardic celebration after the bride visits a mikvah before her wedding.
Sephardi: Jews of
Spanish, Portuguese, and North African descent.
S'eudah Mitzvah: Celebratory meal following a religious ritual.
Jewish Sabbath beginning Friday at sundown and ending Saturday at sundown.
Sheva Brachot: Seven marriage blessings
recited under the huppah.
Simcha: Celebration of joy.
Tallis: Prayer shawl.
Tish: Yiddish for table, the light-hearted discussion held before the wedding ceremony.
First five books of the Hebrew Bible.
Yarmulkes: Head coverings.
Yihud: Brief seclusion of bride and groom
immediately following wedding ceremony.