A Jewish wedding ceremony, regardless of whether the couple is religious or not, is truly a product of the Jewish wedding symbols that abound throughout the wedding. The Jewish wedding symbols bear with them the illustrious weight of history, spirituality, culture and the law sustained from one generation to the next going back almost 4,000 years.
One of the most iconic Jewish wedding symbols is a classic chuppah. Simply four poles with a cloth attached to the tops of each pole, stretching out to create a canopy for the bride and groom to stand beneath. The chuppah symbolizes the home that husband and wife will create together. Because the chuppah is open on all four sides, it also symbolizes the concept of unconditional hospitality as Abraham and Sarah kept their tent open on all sides to welcome people into their home.
Though not necessarily a forerunner, in terms of classic Jewish wedding symbols, the wedding ring is, nonetheless, definitely part of the wedding ceremony. According to Jewish law, the marriage is not official until the groom gives the bride an item of value. Traditionally, the valuable item used has been a Jewish wedding ring. The ring must be a plain band: simple and seamless: without any holes, scratches or engravings and bought and paid for by the groom, himself. This Jewish wedding symbol represents that of hope for an everlasting marriage. The circular band evokes the notion of the cycle of life. In modern Jewish weddings, today, both the bride and groom exchange rings.
As far as Jewish wedding symbols go, wine plays an important role in the ceremony as well as many Jewish ceremonies. Wine and marriage have between them a profound mystical connection. Wine is a symbol of joy, making the heart happy. In order to make this happy-heart-making drink, a grape must be squeezed and crushed. The grape is not unlike marriage – persevering through all the crushing moments, coming up on top and taking you to whole new levels of love and joy. Not to mention, becoming richer with age.
The Broken Glass
Breaking the glass at a Jewish wedding ceremony is also a fairly iconic Jewish wedding symbol. Following the couple’s declaration of being spiritually one, a cup is wrapped in a cloth and set under the groom’s foot. The groom then crushes the glass reminding those present of the sorrow of the destruction of the temple – even in times of great joy, Jerusalem and the Temple should be remembered.
More than just a religious Jewish wedding symbol, it was (and still is) a legal Jewish document. The ketubah is essentially a marriage contract outlining the obligations of a husband to provide food, shelter and marital relations to his wife. While not quite a spiritual Jewish wedding symbol, it is a symbol of marriage and an intertwining of two lives. Many choose, today, to alter the traditional Aramaic text, adding their own text that elucidates the commitment of the couple to their mutual love, as well as, their vision of the home they wish to establish. Couples often choose to purchase an art ketubah as a way to immortalize this momentous event and later hang it in their home in order to perpetuate its promise .
The artistry and craftsmanship that Danny Azoulay has to offer will truly astound you. Take the time to explore his gallery and see for yourself just how beautiful a ketubah can be.