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Marriage

INTRODUCTION

"MAZELTOV!"

Congratulations on your engagement. We hope your happiness will continue to grow and that you will lay the foundations for a beautiful home and family life.

Getting married is exciting. It also makes us nervous. The purpose of this Manual is, firstly, to relieve as many anxieties as possible concerning the routine mechanics of the wedding. It will also outline the reasons for the Jewish Marriage Traditions and discuss the symbolism of each. The more you are aware of these, the more meaningful and spiritually significant your wedding will be. By reading and following these guidelines carefully, the time you spend with your Rabbi will be quality time devoted to the more meaningful aspects of your marriage and your future.

Should you have any queries, the Shul office staff will be happy to advise you. If they are unable, the Rabbi will be pleased to assist.

It is our humble hope that this Marriage Manual will contribute to the physical and spiritual enhancement of your wedding. May you merit to build a beautiful Jewish Home together.

Sincerely,

RABBI YOSSY GOLDMAN

 

1. MARRIAGE PREPARATION

Too many couples spend months preparing for a wedding and precious little time preparing for marriage. The Shul is very proud of the system it has instituted for marriage preparation. A few months before the wedding date, the Rabbi will see the couples in a group session. There, he will share valuable insights into marriage in general, family life, setting up a Jewish Home and the procedures of a Jewish wedding. There are two parts to the Counseling Programme; one provides general preparation and deals with relationships, communication, family issues etc. The other focuses on the secrets of Jewish marital success. A personal counselor will share with each bride the unique system of Jewish marital life with special emphasis on the Mikvah. The Mikvah is today acknowledged as a beautiful, spiritual experience. Increasingly, young women are discovering that the Mikvah system also enhances the physical relationship. The counselors are young women volunteers who, generally, enjoy an excellent rapport with the Brides. Closer to the wedding date, the Rabbi will see each couple privately for a final meeting at which any outstanding issues may be dealt with. Couples will also be provided with relevant literature on the subject.

As good as the programme may be however, it is by no means exhaustive. Couples wishing to avail themselves of other preparation programmes are warmly encouraged to do so. Much useful reading material is also available. In general, the better prepared you are, the easier things will be later.

 

2. REGISTRATION AND DOCUMENTATION

All weddings require authorisation from the Beth Din. There are also quite a few legal requirements for the Civil Marriage. Please supply the following information and documentation to the Shul Secretary as soon as possible. It is necessary to arrange a suitable appointment as it takes approximately half an hour.

a) Book of Life

b) Minors (under the age of 21) require both parents to complete a form "Consent to the Marriage of a Minor". This form is available from the Shul Office.

c) Copy of Parent's Ketubah (Marriage Certificate). If this is unavailable, letters of Confirmation can be obtained, on request, from the Shul where the marriage took place.

d) FULL BIRTH CERTIFICATE. (This can be obtained from the Department of Home Affairs, Regional Office, Harrison Street, Johannesburg, Counter 3). This Certificate must have FULL NAMES OF PARENTS. NOTE: As it takes about 6 weeks to obtain this document, please apply for it immediately.

e) Hebrew or Yiddish names (given at birth).

f) Father's Hebrew or Yiddish names and whether KOHEN, LEVI or YISRAEL.

g) If you do not have a Book of Life, you will need to present us with other proof of your marital status. If you are NOT a long term resident of the Republic you will need to obtain a "Certificate of Bachelorhood" (Teudat Ravakut) or similar document from the Rabbi of the town in which you previously resided.

h) The venue of the proposed reception following the marriage service and the name of the caterer. As the reception is a continuation of the religious ceremony it is assumed that this reception will be KOSHER catered and under the supervision of the Beth Din.

PLEASE NOTE: Unless the catering is under the supervision of the Johannesburg Beth Din we cannot undertake to perform the marriage service.

i) Divorced persons must produce proof of divorce from the Beth Din (Jewish Ecclesiastical Court) and also a Certificate from the Civil Court.

j) Widows and Widowers must present proof of death of the previous spouse. (If this occurred before 2 October 1968, please phone the Office immediately for additional information).

 

3. FLOWERS

These are not provided by the Shul. Each family must make its own arrangements. Should there be more than one wedding on the same day, please liaise with each other.

 

4. INVITATIONS

Most printers can help you with the wording and selection of your English copy. A Jewish wedding invitation should also have some Hebrew calligraphy. There are many possibilities, all quite pleasing to the eye. Most good printers should be able to help you with the Hebrew script. If you would like to contact a professional scribe to design a custom-made Hebrew script for you, the Shul office staff will be able to provide you with the names and telephone numbers of scribes in Johannesburg.

 

5. PHOTOGRAPHY

The Shul does allow photographers and video cameras to film the wedding in the Synagogue. However, photographers must be advised not to abuse this facility. As the client, you are requested to convey the following guidelines to the cameramen:

a) Observe and capture the scene. Do not become Hollywood Producers by directing the "Actors". There should be no interference whatsoever to the ceremony.

b) Go easy on the lights. Bridesmaids and even Brides have fainted under the Chuppah from the heat generated by overly powerful lighting.

c) Allow ample room for Rabbi, Chazan and Shammas. Tripods must be placed to the side of the Ark, not in front of it. Please use the side opposite to where the Shammas' table is placed.

 

6. PURCHASING THE RING

The ring which the Groom gives the Bride is the most important object under the Chuppah. The Groom makes the official proposal of marriage when he offers it to the Bride. Her acceptance of the ring indicates her agreement to accept his offer of marriage. Observed by two witnesses (usually the Rabbi and Chazan), this transaction makes the marriage legally binding according to Jewish Law.

It is therefore imperative that the ring be purchased by the Groom and be entirely in his possession (of course he may delegate his Best Man to hold on to it for him). Under the Chuppah, he gives it to his wife to become hers permanently.

A family heirloom which would then be returned to someone other than the Bride is therefore unacceptable. To use such an heirloom, the Groom would have to buy it legally beforehand and then be able to present it to the Bride as hers forever. If so desired, such an arrangement would be acceptable.

When purchasing the ring, make sure it is a plain round gold band without any settings or engravings. Creative designs to fit in with an engagement ring may be made after the wedding. Alternatively, a less expensive plain band may be purchased and fitted for the right forefinger, which is the one actually used under the Chuppah.

 

7. FASHIONS

One must be mindful of the fact that the wedding is a religious occasion. The Rabbi and Chazan recite quite a few blessings invoking the sacred name of G-d. A Shul wedding is additionally graced by the sanctity of the Synagogue and particularly the Holy Ark which is immediately in front of the Chuppah. It is therefore imperative that the fashion choices for the Bride and her retinue be made with this in mind.

Under no circumstances should the Bride or any ladies in the retinue contemplate low cut, sleeveless, backless, transparent garments or mini-skirts. Remember what is fashionable on the dance floor is not necessarily fashionable in Shul.

Designers should be informed of the Shul's requirements. Do not be misled by designers who assure you that "everything is in order", when it is not. If you are uncertain, the Shul Secretary will be able to advise you.

Should members of the retinue be unsuitably attired they may be asked to put on a shawl in the bridal room before the Chuppah may proceed. Your co-operation in making appropriate fashion selections will help avoid embarrassments on your wedding day.

Married women should have their hair covered. Either a hat, mantilla or full netting with flowers will be acceptable.

 

8. RETINUE MEMBERS

In a Jewish Religious Ceremony it is important that all participants be members of the Jewish Faith. Should you wish to honour a non-Jewish friend, you may invite him/her to be a witness to the civil marriage which takes place in the bridal room immediately after the Chuppah. Please advise the Rabbi of this at that time. Jewish boys under Barmitzvah may be Poleholders and girls under Batmitzvah age may be Bridesmaids.

 

9. THE COUNTDOWN

There is a Jewish custom that Bride and Groom separate from each other's company one week before the wedding. Essentially, this is for religious-spiritual reasons. It also allows the individual some necessary solitude for personal introspection so important at this juncture of one's life. Furthermore, there are some sound psychological benefits. Firstly, in this final week we tend to be nervous and, possibly, even irritable. We might just say something we would regret afterwards. "Out of sight" helps keep things on an even keel.

Secondly the sense of anticipation is heightened when we have been apart for a while and the reunion at the Chuppah is that much more special. (If, for pressing practical reasons you must communicate, you may use the telephone).

 

10. THE SHABBAT BEFORE

On Friday night Bride and Groom and their families will be acknowledged with a Mazeltov in the weekly Shul bulletin. Shabbat morning is when the traditional Aufruf takes place. This means that the Groom is called up to the Torah for an Aliyah. (Don't worry it is not another Barmy. All you need do is recite the blessings before and after). This Aliyah provides a dose of spiritual strength for the formidable task ahead. In the Holy Zohar (the classic of Jewish mysticism) it is written that before G-d created the world he looked into the Torah for inspiration. Likewise, before we build our own little world, we seek out the Torah and look to it for guidance and direction in life. Afterwards, the ladies in the family who will be upstairs, may shower the Groom with sweets when he makes his way up the aisle to shake the Rabbi's hand. Besides the traditional blessings this is said to bring, it also brings a smile to an otherwise sombre occasion.

The only obligatory Aliyah is the Groom's. Fathers and other family members are not mandatory honourees. The Gaboim will endeavour to distribute appropriate honours to those present. It should be understood though, that these are optional and availabilities of honours will depend on how many other occasions are being celebrated at Shul on that day. After the service, there will be a congregational Brocha which the families may wish to sponsor in honour of the Simcha. This should be discussed with the Ladies Guild. If the Bride is in Shul, this should be the very last time she and the Groom see each other before the wedding.

 

11. THE WEDDING DAY

Besides being a very special day, this is a very sacred day. It is more than a twinning of bodies; two souls are being united. The wedding day is considered a personal Yom Kippur for Bride and Groom. The "good news" is that all your sins are forgiven and one is able to begin a new life unburdened by any failings of the past. The "bad news" is that it is customary to fast. Actually, this is not as difficult as it may sound. Rare, indeed, are the Bride and Groom who have an appetite for food on this day. There are too many butterflies in the stomach. Nerves and a hectic schedule really do keep food off our minds. The fast begins at daybreak on the wedding and ends immediately after the Chuppah when you will be served tea in the bridal room. (No need to bring along sandwiches). One may brush teeth, gargle, shower, blow dry etc; only eating and drinking are forbidden. If there is a medical problem which necessitates some food, try and do with the absolute minimum.

The purpose of fasting though, is not only to squeeze into a tight dress (or tuxedo), but rather to be less physical so that we can be more spiritual and better attuned to the sanctity of the day.

 

12. A DAY OF ATONEMENT

On Yom Kippur proper, we mention three main themes: Teshuvah, Tefillah and Tzedokah - repentance, prayer and charity. It is therefore recommended that Bride and Groom incorporate these three observances as a spiritual preparation for the wedding.

REPENTANCE

Fasting is associated with repentance. It puts us in the frame of mind for introspection and soul searching. On this day, both Bride and Groom ought to spend a few private moments reflecting and meditating on ways in which they can enhance their own relationship as well as their relationship to

G-d. A wedding is a new beginning and provides a wonderful opportunity to begin observing a new Mitzva. A good firm resolution for the future is what Teshuvah is all about.

PRAYER

Bride and Groom should each put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on their doors for a significant period during this day. Your prayers are very powerful on your wedding day. Use this gift wisely to pray to Hashem for a happy, healthy marriage with happy, healthy children amidst abundant prosperity and Nachas. Use your Siddur and add your own personal prayer as well. If there was ever a day for a man to put on Tefillin, this is it. (One is, of course, encouraged to put on Tefillin every weekday. Five minutes in the morning is all it need take).

Traditionally, the afternoon prayer for Erev Yom Kippur is recited. This contains the Al Chet confessional.

CHARITY

Each of you should perform the Mitzva of Tzedokah by putting a significant amount of money into an envelope on the wedding day and earmarking it for the Jewish charity of your choice.

The above three observances will prepare you for the solemn service which is to follow and will bring you blessings for your future married life.

 

13. THE WEDDING

ARRIVAL TIME

Bride and Groom and retinue members should arrive at Shul 30 minutes before the Chuppah is scheduled to start. The Groom will have reserved parking directly in front of the main entrance to the Shul (Main Street). The Bride will have reserved parking for her around the corner on Roux Street. That entrance leads straight into the bridal room. All female members of the retinue should join the Bride there. The Groom should go directly to the Box (the three seats just in front of the Bimah). He will be flanked by the fathers (or other male Unterfihrers) on either side. The Best Man and Poleholders should be seated in the front row closest to the Box.

About ten minutes before the Chuppah is scheduled to begin, the Rabbi will take the Groom up to the Bimah to sign the Ketubah. The Ketubah is the authentic, traditional Jewish marriage contract and in it the Groom pledges to support his wife. Long before the era of modern feminism and antenuptial contracts the Ketubah was protecting the rights of Jewish wives. The Rabbi will ask the Groom to indicate his acceptance of this pledge by accepting from him an object (usually a handkerchief) and raising it up in his right hand in the presence of two witnesses. The Groom will sign the Ketubah and the two witnesses will affix their signatures. (Photographers are usually present at this point).

BADEKEN (VEILING THE BRIDE)

The Rabbi will then lead the Groom and fathers into the bridal room where the Groom will confirm that the Bride is indeed the right woman. (This positive ID goes back to the biblical story of Jacob who mistakenly married the wrong sister. Ever since then, we've been double checking). He will then bring the veil forward to cover the Bride's face. There is important symbolism here. The Bride is demonstrating traditional Jewish modesty in covering her face (how hypocritical it would therefore be, were other vital parts to be uncovered). The Groom hereby indicates that he is marrying this woman not only for her external charms, which are now veiled from view, but for her inner qualities. What he is really saying is that this relationship is not merely skin deep; it is profound and real. The Rabbi will then bless the Bride. The Bride's father may wish to add a personal blessing at this point. We are then ready to get into position for the procession. Before we discuss the procession, a word about Unterfihrers.

UNTERFIHRERS (CHAPERONES)

The notion that someone must "give the bride away" is actually not of Jewish origin at all. Once a girl becomes Batmitzvah, no one may give her away. Under the Chuppah, she will be giving herself to the man of her choice. It is traditional, however, for both Bride and Groom to be escorted to the Chuppah by Unterfihrers (Chaperones). Bride and Groom are King and Queen and should not walk down the road unescorted. The ideal qualities of Unterfihrers are for them to be a married couple (preferably a first marriage) and that they have children. It is seen as a good omen for the young couple to follow in their footsteps and that they too should succeed in raising a family.

Now in most cases, the parents of Bride and Groom meet these traditional requirements perfectly. They are a married couple who have children, namely the Bride and Groom. Father and Mother of the Groom will therefore accompany him to the Chuppah and remain there. They will, almost immediately, be followed by the Bride accompanied by her father and mother.

Where this is not the case, e.g. when one parent is deceased, parents are divorced, or a parent is not present for whatever reason, one of the following procedures will be followed: The parent who is present (or in the case of divorced parents who are both present - the parents) will accompany their child to the Chuppah. In addition, in order to enjoy the blessing associated with the Unterfihrer tradition, one should invite a married couple to walk immediately behind the Bride and Groom. This may be grandparents, uncle and aunt, brother and sister-in-law or any married couple who are parents. In this way, the natural parents are still leading their own child to the Chuppah and their child still benefits from the good omen of having a married couple as Unterfihrers.

You may be assured that this system works smoothly and adds to the spiritual and aesthetic beauty of the Chuppah ceremony. If there are any problems regarding these arrangements, feel free to discuss it with the Rabbi early enough to allow you to invite the Unterfihrers of your choice. (According to custom, a woman who is pregnant should not serve as Unterfihrer).

THE PROCESSION

Best Man and Poleholders take their places at the Chuppah when the Groom leaves the Box to veil the Bride. The order of the procession is as follows: Rabbi and Chazan followed by the Groom and his parents on either side of him, arm in arm; grandparents of the Groom (if present) - Flower girls, Page boy (these are optional), the Bride accompanied by her parents (father and mother on either side, arm in arm) Maid or matron of Honour, grandparents of the Bride (if present) and Bridesmaids.

If there is a single grandparent, a grandchild from the retinue may wish to accompany him/her up the aisle.

Under the Chuppah, Bride and Groom stand in the centre, mothers and grandmothers on the Bride's side, fathers and grandfathers on the Groom's side, the Best Man behind the Groom, Maid of Honour behind the Bride and Bridesmaids behind them or behind the mothers.

 

14. THE CHUPPAH

The Chuppah (canopy) symbolises the Jewish home. The Groom comes under the Chuppah first, designating this as his home. Once he has acquired a "roof over his head", his Bride joins him in this new family venture. However, before she stands at his side, she wants to ensure that her home will be safe, secure and well protected from any harmful, outside elements. She therefore circles her home, symbolically casting a protective aura and building a spiritual fortress around it. She circles seven times, as seven represents the cycle of life and all areas of life are thereby protected. The Chazan and Choir have quite a bit to sing at this point, so the walk may be slow and dignified. There is no need to rush. If the Bride has a long train, the Maid of Honour should lift it at the steps and give it to the Bride to hold over her arm before she begins circling.

THE BLESSINGS

The Rabbi recites two blessings - one over the wine (which is actually grape juice, so you won't get dizzy on an empty stomach) and the other on the consecration of the marriage. It is vital that Bride and Groom answer Amen to each of these blessings as well as to the seven blessings (Sheva Brachot) soon to be recited by the Chazan. "Amen" means "I believe in that" and it is an endorsement of the blessings just recited. Although whoever hears a blessing should always respond with Amen, it is Bride and Groom who will be doing the drinking and therefore the blessings are being recited especially for you. Your Amen is therefore most important.

Bride and Groom will then be given to drink from the cup, the Groom by his father (or Unterfihrer) and the Bride by her mother (or Unterfihrer).

THE RING

As mentioned previously, this is the single most important item in the Chuppah service. The Best Man gives the Rabbi the ring. The Bride gives her flowers to her mother or Maid of Honour. She should have no jewellery on her hands at all as we must focus all our attention on the ring. Gloves, if worn, should be removed at this point. The Groom places the ring on the Bride's right forefinger. The "pointer" finger is used so that the two witnesses may have a clear view of her acceptance. The Groom recites the traditional words which are actually his proposal of marriage. He places the ring on her finger loosely at first, then says -

 

"HAREI AT MEKUDESHET LI B'TABAAT ZU K'DAT MOSHE V'YISRAEL"

"Behold Thou Art Betrothed to me with this Ring in accordance with the Law of Moses and Israel".

He then puts the ring on more securely. The Bride's acceptance of the ring indicates her acceptance of the marriage proposal and as "action speaks louder than words", she need not recite anything. Accepting the ring is a most eloquent "I Do". From this point on, you are officially married.

THE KETUBAH

The Rabbi will then read the Ketubah; first in the original Aramaic and, thereafter, an abstract of the Ketubah in English. If you are having another Rabbi under the Chuppah he may be invited to read the Ketubah. This is considered an honour. You may invite as many Rabbis as you wish to the Chuppah. The officiating Rabbi will endeavour to include other Rabbis with various honours. You should inform him of whom you are expecting to be present during your private prenuptial meeting.

THE ADDRESS

After the Ketubah is read, the Rabbi will address the Bride and Groom. Remember to be looking and listening and not to be posing for the cameras. This is a personal message for you. It can help set the tone for a secure future.

SHEVA BRACHOT

Thereafter, the Chazan and Choir will sing the Sheva Brachot (seven blessings). Again, remember to respond to each blessing with Amen. (The Rabbi will prompt you just in case you should be somewhere on Cloud Nine). After the conclusion of the Sheva Brachot, Bride and Groom will again be given to drink from the cup of blessing by the other parents (or Unterfihrers).

BREAKING THE GLASS

The choir will sing Seu Shearim and the Shammas places the glass at the Groom's feet. The Rabbi gives a concluding blessing to Bride and Groom, their families and all present and will then explain why we break the glass. This is to remember Jerusalem. The fact that the Temple is still not rebuilt and Jerusalem not yet restored to all her former glory leaves us with a touch of sadness, even during our Simcha. It is appropriate that we recall the absence of our national joy during this time of our personal joy. Breaking the glass is our way of praying for Moshiach, the rebuilding of the Temple and an end to Exile and our national insecurity. The glass is broken, the Chuppah ceremony is completed. It is our first opportunity to exclaim "Mazeltov".

MAZELTOV !

Good wishes and embraces are exchanged by the family members under the Chuppah. What about the proverbial "first kiss"? Actually, Jewish Law advises us that kissing in general is not recommended in the Synagogue. This is a house built exclusively to express our love for G-d. Kissing people is considered mildly unfaithful to G-d and is therefore not correct Shul protocol.

Certainly, for newlyweds to start "smooching" is inappropriate, especially in front of the Aron Kodesh (The Holy Ark). And yet, some gesture of affection seems to be called for - so what do we do? The following is an excellent solution.

Seeing as the Groom was the one who veiled the Bride at the beginning of the Chuppah, let him now be the one to unveil her. As soon as the glass is broken, Bride and Groom should come closer to one another and he should remove the veil. Do this slowly and tenderly and look into each others eyes meaningfully and this will make a very pretty picture indeed. Then clasp hands and wish each other "Mazeltov" (Don't worry, it works beautifully). Make certain that the Bride has informed the Maid of Honour that the Groom will be removing the veil at the end of the ceremony. Bride and Groom then lead the retinue down the aisle; hand in hand or arm in arm, as they prefer.

THE CIVIL MARRIAGE

Back in the bridal room, in the presence of the retinue, the Bride will sign the Ketubah. Both Bride and Groom will sign the Marriage Register making the wedding civilly legal as well. All signatures of the Bride are to be in her maiden name. The Rabbi usually invites the two mothers to witness the Civil Marriage. Should you wish to honour anyone else, please advise him timeously. The Ketubah and the Civil Marriage Certificate will be handed to you at this point. Bear in mind that someone responsible will need to look after these very important documents which, unfortunately, are sometimes lost in the excitement of the wedding.

YICHUD

All the documention having been concluded, everyone is asked to leave the room and Bride and Groom have five minutes of privacy. This is known as Yichud - togetherness and it puts the finishing touch on the Halachic side of the wedding. It indicates that this couple is married; for prior to marriage no couple has any business being closeted alone for a substantial period of time.

These few minutes are very special - an island in time. You have just been married, the nerves of the Chuppah are over, the tumult of the reception has not yet begun. It is therefore a natural and ideal time for the first expressions of marital love and affection. Surely a "first kiss" will be much more meaningful in the privacy of the bridal room than in front of crowds and cameras. This is also the perfect time for that special gift. Traditionally, the Groom would present the Bride with her first set of silver candlesticks for Shabbat and Yom Tov and the Bride would present the Groom with a big new Tallis. (Surely by now he has outgrown the one from his Bar Mitzvah!)

Tea and cake will be there for you to break your fast.

After the allotted time is up, the Rabbi will knock on the door and hand you over to the photographer for a picture session. Try not to take too long with that, your guests are awaiting you at your reception venue.

 

15. THE RECEPTION

This is really a continuation of the religious ceremony. One should try to make the reception a true Yiddishe Simcha. Jewish music and Hora dancing create a unique atmosphere which makes your wedding a special occasion.

If one is intent on having conventional, mixed dancing, this should be reserved until after the Bentching and Sheva Brochas which officially conclude the religious celebrations.

Such an arrangement, in addition to working well, allows Rabbis to accept your kind invitation without any qualms about possible awkwardness. Rabbis, generally, find it uncomfortable to be present during the mixed dancing. To expect them to be in and out of the hall throughout the reception is unfair. A practical solution is, therefore, to have separate Hora dancing, speeches and dinner followed by Bentching and Sheva Brochas, after which the Rabbi may take his leave. Any dancing which may follow will therefore not be at the expense of his discomfort. It should also be mentioned that a woman vocalist presents a problem for Rabbis and other religious male guests who may be present. If this is being planned, she, too, should be asked to wait until after Sheva Brachot. Even non-Jewish musicians are quite familiar with these requirements. As the client, you must inform them of your wishes and they will, no doubt, be happy to accommodate you. Today, more and more couples are choosing this arrangement to everyone’s satisfaction.

HAMOTZI

Although it is often customary to invite Rabbis to recite the Hamotzi blessing over the bread at the beginning of the meal, it is actually more traditionally correct to honour the Groom with this blessing. The Rabbi will not be offended.

SPEECHES

One "custom" that need not be adhered to is that of the Best Man revealing all the darkest secrets of the Groom's (or Bride's) past. This is in very bad taste. Speeches at the wedding reception should, ideally, contain a concept about marriage from Jewish Thought and Tradition. Brief the speakers well in advance as to what is expected of them. If there is more than one Rabbi on your guest list, perhaps one of them should be invited to share a Torah message at the reception.

GRACE AFTER MEALS

Bentching and Sheva Brochas may be undertaken by any capable, knowledgeable individual. There is no requirement that it be performed by a "professional". Should the services of a Chazan or Chorister be desired, there is much talent available in the community. The Shul office staff will be able to assist you.

Finally as they say in the classics, "this is not the end, only the beginning". Your Rabbi is always available for "after sales service". Feel free to be in touch.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage by Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Made in Heaven by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

Hedge of Roses by Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm

The Sacred Trust by Rabbi Pinchas Stolper

The River, The Kettle and The Bird by Rabbi A. Feldman

Two Halves of a Whole by Tehilla Abramov

The Secret of Jewish Femininity by Tehilla Abramov

Pardes Rimonim by Rabbi Dr M D Tendler

Total Immersion by Rivka Slonim

The Jewish Woman’s Guide to Happiness in Marriage by S. C. Radcliffe

 

A WORD ABOUT NEW BEGINNINGS

My Dear Bride and Groom,

As mentioned earlier, the Wedding Day is your own personal Yom Kippur and therefore, gives you the rare opportunity of starting fresh with a new life, a new beginning.

I have seen too many young people commit a serious error of judgment. "Let's get organised first," they say. "Unpack the boxes, curtains, furniture etc. and then we will have time to think about loftier issues".

The trouble is, we are all creatures of habit. Change is a difficult thing. Once we get set into a routine, it is not easy to undo it. It is, therefore, very important to set into motion whatever new resolutions you aspire to for your home right from the very beginning of marriage. This is an ideal time for new beginnings because there are so many new things going on in your life anyway. One or two more won't unsettle you. Later, however, it becomes a major hassle.

I am referring specifically, now, to Jewish issues. Let's face it. Although you were told that you became a man and a woman at your Bar and Batmitzvahs, the truth is, that we don't really become independent until we get married and move out of our parental homes.

Now, during your engagement period, it is vital that you do more than just "go out". Sit and talk. Discuss your hopes, your dreams, your aspirations, what kind of family values you consider important. Discuss how Jewish you want your home to be. How about the kitchen? What will happen on Shabbat and Yom Tov? How does Shul feature in your lives? Would you like it to be a bigger factor than it currently might be?

As independent young people you now need to start making some serious choices. No longer should you rely on Mom and Dad to make these decisions. It is yours to think about and to decide, together. If Bride and Groom come from very different families of origin, there may be some initial conflict over how things are done. You must sort these out before the wedding, or at least make a start.

As an independent family, the community will now look to you to help bolster its ranks. Old people are dying. Young people are emigrating. The Jewish community needs you to become active members and participate on all levels, whether religiously, socially or financially. It is important that you join a Shul in your own right.

When choosing a home, make sure to consider its proximity to your favourite Synagogue. The children you will be bringing into the world, please G-d, need to see from the very beginning that they are part of a larger community, too. This strengthens their own Jewish identity. And speaking of children, some people are afraid to start a family until they are absolutely 100% certain that the marriage is right. That's a pretty defensive attitude. It doesn't exactly breed trust and confidence. The truth is that children cement a relationship. Have them sooner than later. (P.S. Your parents can't wait to become Bobbas and Zaydes).

So, use this wonderful time in your lives to grow together, to learn more about Jewish life together, and together may you be blessed to build an everlasting home in the House of Israel. G-d bless you!

 

Thu, 24 January 2019 18 Shevat 5779