Dear Family and Friends,
We would like to thank you for joining us for our wedding simcha. We are very excited to be sharing our joy with our close friends and relatives.
We understand that in this multi-cultural society, not everyone is Jewish and not everyone understands what happens at a Jewish wedding.
Yesterday, Helaine and Eric had their aufruf. The aufruf takes place during the Shabbat (Heb: Sabbath) service where the bride and groom are called to the Torah (first five books of the Bible) for a congregational honor.
Shortly before today's wedding ceremony, a small group of friends and relatives gathered for a ceremony called the bedeken. The bedeken (Heb: veiling) consists of the veiling of the bride by the groom. This hearkens back to Jacob's marriage to Leah. He thought he was marrying Rachel, but the bride was so heavily veiled that he did not notice she was Leah. To avoid this dilemma, Jewish grooms personally lower the veil on the bride to make sure she is his intended.
Almost at the same time, Eric, Helaine, two witnesses, and the rabbi signed the ketubah. The ketubah is a legal document, traditionally written in Aramaic, which describes the husband's obligations to his wife and gives her legal status in the event of a divorce or his death. This same formula has been used for nearly 2500 years. The modern ketubah also contains a personal expression of the bride and grooms love for one another and their affirmation of Jewish family values. The ketubah will be read aloud during the public part of the wedding ceremony.
As you enter the chapel, you will notice a tent-like structure called a chupah (also known as a bridal canopy). The chupah symbolizes the home that is to be created by the bride and groom. It also is a reminder of the tent of Abraham whose generosity was such that his tent was open on all sides to receive the needy and other visitors. Another possibility is that the chupah represents the tents of the Jews who left their old lives in Egypt to begin anew in Israel.
As the wedding processional begins, the cantor sings a song that some of you might recognize as Spanish-sounding. The song is "Scalarica de Oro" ("Little Golden Ladder") which is sung in Ladino. Ladino (a blend of 15th Century Spanish, Arabic, and Hebrew) is the vernacular spoken by some Jews whose ancestors came from Spain.
As Helaine walks to the chupah, the cantor is singing "Dodi Li (Heb: My Beloved)." It is a song that comes from "The Song of Songs." When Helaine reaches the chupah, she circles around Eric seven times. The circles symbolize completeness, perfection, and an unbroken bond. The seven orbits around the groom could represent the days of the week their union to each other throughout all time. It could also represent the seven spheres of the planets, moon, and sun from ancient astronomy their union to each other through all space. Then again, it could be like the Israelites under Joshua circling the walls of Jericho seven times before knocking its defensive walls down.
The first part of the wedding service is the erusin (betrothal). During this part of the ceremony, two blessings are recited. The first blessing is recited over wine and the second proclaims the sanctity of marriage.
The next part of the ceremony is the nisuin (the marriage vows). Eric places a ring on the Helaines right index finger and recites in Hebrew, "You are consecrated to me with this ring according to the law of Moses and of Israel." (Tradition holds that the right index finger contains a special artery that is connected to the heart.) Helaine places a ring on Eric's right index finger and says in Hebrew, "I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine."
After exchanging rings, the Aramaic text of the ketubah is read aloud. Why Aramaic? The ketubah was developed at a time when Aramaic was the language spoken by the majority of Jewish communities.
Following the ketubah reading, the Sheva Berakhot (Seven Wedding Blessings) are sung in Hebrew. The blessings are:
The rabbi then makes the civil-legal pronouncement of the bride and groom as husband and wife.
Eric then crushes a glass with his right foot and everybody cries, "Mazel Tov!" (lit: "Good Luck" but means "Congratulations!") The crushing of the glass has many different meanings. Some think of it as symbolic of the fragility of life and human relationships. Others think of it as mourning for the loss of the Temple. Or perhaps it represents the dispersion of the Jewish people we were once one and now are many. Since, in our case, Eric is stamping on a light bulb, perhaps there is a hint of the hope for redemption. Here we have a bulb that will never light again, so we must seek after the light that can never be shattered: the eternal light of God. Perhaps the simplest interpretation is that the breaking of the glass is a joyous conclusion to the wedding ceremony and launches the celebration to follow.
Immediately after the ceremony, Helaine and Eric will retreat to a private room where they will share their first few moments of marriage together.
Maid of Honor
Civil License Witness
Wedding Cake Baker and Decorator
Edwin and Shirley Cohn
Parents of the Bride
Glenn and Karen Poe
Parents of the Groom
Margaret "Peggy" Park
Grandmother of the Groom
Rabbi Lewis Warshauer
Cantor David Barash
Civil License Witness
We would like to thank everyone for their generous love and wishes.
We would also like to send our love to our friends and relatives who could not make it to our wedding.
In Loving Memory of
Herman and Betty Hersh
Harry and Eva Cohn