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Wednesday, December 11, 2013,
8 Tevet 5774.
Although many couples these days chose to hold their wedding ceremony at an outside venue, Hendon Reform Synagogue with our magnificant twin walls of stained glass windows and hand made "Chupa" [marriage canopy] will add a warmth and rich aura to the occasion.
Whether the ceremony takes place here or elsewhere, Rabbi Steven Katz will conduct the ceremony in the traditional manner, and in so doing make the occasion not only meaningful but joyful and memorable for all concerned.
The ceremony takes place under a Chupa which is often decorated with flowers and is a symbol of the hope to be built and shared by the couple. It is open on four sides, as was Sarah and Abraham's tent, in order to welcome friends and relatives in unconditional hospitality.
There are many beautiful customs and age old traditions that form part of a Jewish Wedding ceremony which are so symbolic and meaningful.
Whether you are attending a Wedding here as a guest or you are thinking of a Wedding at HRS for yourself, please read further. If you would like advice on planning your own Wedding at HRS please contact the Marriage Secretary on 0208 203 4168 who will be delighted to assist you.
BEFORE THE BIG DAY.......
Many couples like the tradition of an "Aufruf" . This is being called for a special blessing or for the reading of the Torah on the Sabbath prior to their Wedding. It is usual for both the Bride and Groom to participate in the Blessing over the Torah and is sometimes followed by a kiddush [reception] for the congregation following the service.
THE BIG DAY...
It is usual for the Groom to arrive approximately 20 minutes before the ceremony and together with his ushers, direct the guests to their seats in the Synagogue . The Bride will arrive a little later and make her way into the Bride's room to make any last minute adjustments!
This ancient custom serves as the first of many actions by which the Groom signals his commitment to clothe and protect his wife. The veil symbolizes the idea of modesty and conveys that however attractive physical appearances may be, the soul and character are paramount. If Bedecken is chosen by the couple, it is done in private with only both sets of parents present. The Bride is seated as the Groom is escorted into the room and, as he places the veil over his Bride's face the Rabbi says "May you grow into thousands of myriads......." [Genesis 24.60] and "May God make you as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.......".
FIRST FOOT FORWARD....
The Groom, together with his Best Man will make his way into the Synagogue and take his place under the Chupah. The Choir or Cantor will begin singing, thus opening the Ceremony and the Wedding Party, usually the parents of the Groom, Grandparents and the Bride's mother with her escort enter the Synagogue and also make their way to the Chupah. Once the Wedding Party have taken their places, the congregation will stand and the Bride on the arm of her escort [usually her father] will enter whilst either the Cantor or Choir sing the traditional hymn
Only plain unadorned rings may be used to symbalise the Jewish marriage. As the Groom places the ring onto the Bride's finger he says "Harei at mekudeshet li......." and if a Bride then places the ring on her Groom's finger, she says"Harei ata mekudash li......" . This mirrors their declaration to one another in order to establish an ambience of total equality and to emphasise that both husband and wife are now set aside for each other in all eternity.
THE CUP OF WINE...
Twice during the ceremony, the cup of wine is passed the the Bride and Groom. Following the exchange of rings, the Sehva Brachot [the Seven Blessings] is sung by the Cantor and Choir after the Bride and Groom each take a sip of wine from the silver wedding cup. This tradition of sharing from the same cup symbolises hope that in their future life together, both Bride and Groom will share many sweet experiences.
THE BREAKING OF THE GLASS....
The tradition of breaking the glass by the Groom almost completes the tradition of the ceremony and by so doing reminds all who observe the act in the midst of their joy of the occasion, that the Bride and Groom must not forget the tears of others and assume their full obligations in society. As the glass is stamped on the congregation shout "Mazeltov" a cry of well done, good luck and congratulations!
THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT...
The traditional Marriage Contract called a Ketuba is written in Hebrew and stipulates the mutual obligations obligations that the couple have assumed to one another in this ceremony. This doucument, although traditionally the property of the wife is now often written amidst beautiful artwork to be framed and displayed in the home. The newly married couple and their witnesses sign both the Ketuba and the civil certificate which concludes the service.
IF YOU ARE A GUEST AT A WEDDING......
Please note that gentlemen should have their heads covered [kipot are available in th foyer] and that no flash photography should take place during the service. Please ensure you take your seat before the start of the ceremony, switch off mobile phones and not talk during the service out of etiquette to the Wedding Party, other guests and the Rabbi.
We hope that you will enjoy the experience of a Wedding at HRS
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London NW4 2NA
Tel: (020) 8203 4168
Fax: (020) 8203 9385