L’Chaim: Jewish weddings in Italy

While most people don’t think about Jewish weddings as a traditional part of the Italian wedding ceremony tableau, one shouldn’t rule out Italy as a destination for Jewish weddings. Judaism has been a part of Italian history and culture for centuries, and as such, getting married in Italy for Jews is part and parcel of that tradition.

How can the idea of a Jewish wedding in Italy be demystified?

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Legalities

First of all, like most religious ceremonies in Italy, only certain ones are legally recognized. Only Jewish ceremonies performed in the Orthodox tradition are considered legal. Other Jewish couples will be required to have a legal civil ceremony before the wedding ceremony.

Traditions

Judaism is full of rituals and symbols that each carry meaning.

In traditional Jewish weddings, both bride and groom fast on the wedding day from dawn until after the wedding ceremony is over. Also traditionally, the bride and groom are not meant to see each other for one week preceding the wedding in order to boost the anticipation for the event. While this is not really necessarily followed today, it is in line with other wedding traditions that claim seeing the bride before the wedding is bad luck.

Veil

On the wedding day, the bride takes part in a veiling ceremony – she is veiled to preserve her modesty, and aims to impart the wisdom that regardless of physical beauty, the soul is the most important aspect of the relationship. This tradition dates to the Old Testament.

Chuppah

The chuppah is a canopy, under which the wedding ceremony takes place. The chuppah symbolizes the home that the newly married couple will build and share together. The chuppah just has a roof, but is open on all sides, symbolizing Abraham and Sarah, who also had a home open on all sides to welcome everyone. Depending on the custom, the chuppah can be indoors or outdoors. The bride and groom’s parents traditionally escort the couple to the chuppah.

Once under the chuppah, the bride is meant to circle the groom seven times and stops to the groom’s right.

Wine

The rabbi says betrothal blessings during the ceremony, and two cups of wine are used. The first cup is part of the betrothal blessings, and the couple drinks from the cup.

Ring

Generally in Judaism, a plain gold ring is given to the bride. The groom recites a traditional phrase, which is the central moment of the Jewish wedding. The marriage is only official once the ring has been given. (The groom’s ring, if one is given, should not be given until after the actual marriage and not under the chuppah.)

Contract

It sounds legalese, but there is a specific marriage contract in Judaism (ketubah) that is read in original Aramaic. It outlines the husband’s responsibilities to the wife. This contract is usually written and signed, and it is considered the property of the bride, who should be able to access it throughout her marriage. It is often framed and displayed in the couple’s home.

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Blessings

A series of seven blessings are recited over the second cup of wine mentioned earlier. The recitations are given by the rabbi and other people of honor, citing faith, joy and love.

Breaking the glass

Once everything is said and done, a glass is placed on the floor inside a bloth and the groom shatters it underfoot. This symbolizes the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem, and highlights that even on the day of a couple’s greatest happiness and joy, they are mindful of the sadness and difficulties of life. Once the glass is broken, guests shout “Mazel tov” (congratulations) and the couple leaves the chuppah together.

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Privacy

After the ceremony, the newlyweds are usually escorted to a private room for a few minutes to enjoy the moments of being a newly pronounced man and wife. They usually have something to eat at this time.

Celebration

A festive meal, dancing and entertainment generally follow the ceremony.

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Patrizia Saraga

Patrizia Saraga

What a long list of things could summarize my passions: style, details, colours, trends... but also artworks, interior design... If not clear, I'm the stylish and creative part of the…

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