We have recently been invited to an Orthodox Jewish wedding to take place in March.
We are not Jewish and have never attended a Jewish event. It is quite exciting to have the opportunity to experience Jewish rituals at such a joyous event. Tell me, what do we need to know? Should we bring anything? What do we say? We dont want to do anything wrong.
Bridget and Jack, Montreal
Dear Bridget and Jack,
Thank you for your letter expressing interest in Jewish weddings. We are listing some of the rituals and practices you may experience at the wedding. We are proud to present Orthodox Wedding 101:
If you show up on time and no one is there, dont worry. You came to the right place. Welcome to JST (Jewish Standard Time).
Your attire should be modest and formal. A suit for you, Jack, and a long-sleeved dress for Bridget.
If you have any religious symbols, dont bring it to the wedding. A purse is okay.
If you want to bring a present, a check or an item from their gift registry is always appreciated. No food, please.
Dont eat anything for 72 hours prior to the wedding. There will be lots of food. If you are on any kind of a diet, you are out of luck.
If anyone asks you vos hert zich? or any other question in Yiddish or Hebrew, just say Baruk Hashem.
During the ceremony under the canopy (known as chupah), please remember to turn off your cell phones.
When the groom walks toward the canopy, you may notice his shoelaces are untied. This is done on purpose. So, please refrain from bringing this to his attention.
You will notice the parents holding on to the groom and bride as each one advances toward the canopy. This is not done because of any concern they will run away. This is an ancient Jewish tradition.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the groom will smash a glass cup with his foot. Do not be alarmed. This signifies the last time the groom will put his foot down.
By the meal, you will see people in line to wash their hands. The women might have a ring between their lips. Bridget, you dont have to copy this.
After the washing the people will not converse until after they bite into the bread. Do not attempt to engage in conversation (known as shmoozing) at this point.
The food will be kosher and will include meat products. There is no dairy at this meal. Do not expect butter on your bread or milk in your coffee.
Try not to sit near the band. The music will be loud enough for the familys ancestors (going back 10 generations) to hear.
If you want to start a friendly conversation with the person seated next to you, ask them about their family or background. Dont discuss your religious beliefs or which presidential candidate you voted for.
Enjoy the dancing.
I recently started attending Torah classes and enjoy learning about my Jewish heritage. I have a growing number of questions. In particular, why are details so important? Does it really matter which side of the mouth is used in blowing the shofar, how I slant the mezuzzah, or whether I light the Chanukah candles from left to right or right to left? How can something so trivial make such a huge difference?
Randy (by e-mail)
Thank you for your e-mail. You raise an interesting question. Let us put things in perspective. Say, you go to the bank and make a cash withdrawal of $9.50, only to discover that your bank statement recorded it as $950. How would you react? After all, the difference is only a dot. No big deal, right?
Please feel free to e-mail us again at DearTzviling@ijncom. We love getting e-mails. On second thought, that e-mail address wont work. You see, its missing a dot. Its only a dot, but your e-mail would not arrive. It should be DearTzviling@ijn.com.
The insignificant dot also spells the difference between similar Hebrew letters, like the letter Pei (with a dot) and Fei(without a dot). That dot makes a huge difference (especially if your name is Fisher).
More letters in this week’s IJN. Order your copy from Carol at (303) 861-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEND your questions to DearTzviling@ijn.com to be answered with wit, wisdom and humor by identical twins Rabbis Yisroel Engel (Denver) and Shloime Engel (Montreal) who share their combined 100 years of experience.
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