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A Jewish Wedding - A Glossary

Literally, "going up" – refers to going up to the Torah reader bimah (stage) in a synagogue. An Aliyah is an honor bestowed people who partake in prayer services, where they join the Torah reader, and read a portion of the Torah text.

Ashkenazi, or Ashkenazic Jews: Jews whose ancestry, traditions, and customs originated in Central and Eastern Europe.

Aufruf (Oyfruf): Torah honor to the groom (and in some congregations to the bride as well) on the Sabbath before the wedding. In many synagogues, while the groom is reciting the blessing of the Aliyah, the rest of the participants in the prayer services throw candy and other sweets at the bimah. A symbolic act, denoting the crowds wishes of a sweet life for the new bride and groom

Badeken or B'deken: veiling of the bride by the groom before the wedding (chuppah) ceremony.

BaShow: A brief pre-arranged in-home meeting between potential bride and groom.

Bentch: Yiddish for saying Grace, or bestowing a blessing.

Bentcher: A booklet containing the text of the Grace after Meals. At some Jewish weddings, a bentcher is included with every place setting, and serves as a wedding momentum for the guests.

Bimah: The platform on which the Torah reader’s desk is located. The Bimah is usually found in front of the Ark, however in some Sephardic synagogues the Bimah may be located in the center of the room.

Birkat Hamazon: Grace after Meals

Breaking of the Glass: A symbolic act - the smashing of the glass by the Chatan (groom) at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony under the canopy.

Challah: a braided white bread made especially for the Sabbath and holidays and also for the Bride and Groom’s table at their wedding.

Chatan or Chossen: A bridegroom

Chuppah: The wedding canopy.

Erusin: A betrothal ceremony. Nowadays, it is the first part of the Wedding service, where a contract expressing the intentions of both parties, the bride and the groom, is signed

Fraylach: Lively atmosphere generated by the wedding guests who dance and sing

Get: A religious decree of divorce according to Jewish law

Groom's Tish or Chossen’s Tish: Yiddish for the groom's table. This is where the groom, groomsmen and male family members gather for song and dance before the ceremony and also witness the signing of the engagement contract.

Ha-Motzi: An expression that refers to the blessing said over bread.

Hakhnassat Kallah: Literally, bringing in the bride. Used in reference to money collection for brides who cannot afford the high costs of the wedding party, and setting up a home. This particular “tzedakah” or charity is considered to be of very high importance in Jewish tradition.

Kallah: A bride

Kashrut: the system of Jewish dietary laws. “Kosher wedding” usually refers to a wedding celebration in which the kosher laws regarding food are adhered to.

Ketubah: A marriage contract

Kiddush: The blessing said over wine on Shabbat and Holidays. Under the wedding canopy and at the end of a Jewish wedding ceremony, (during the “Sheva Brachot”) a blessing over wine is also included.

Kinyan: Refers to the gift of a ring at the ceremony or a material object at the contract signing

Kippa: A skullcap or Yarmulke

Kittel: The white ceremonial robe sometimes worn by the groom during the wedding ceremony that takes place under the Chuppah..

Kosher: Food and drink that meets the requirements of the dietary laws (kashrut)

L’Chayim or L'Chaim: Literally, “to life." A traditional toast before drinking liquor or wine

Mach-te-ni-s-te: Mother-in-law

Mazel tov: Literally, "good luck"- a congratulatory wish. Upon breaking of the glass under the Chuppah, the guests often respond with a hearty and boisterous “mazel tov!”

Mazinkeh: The youngest sibling to get married

Mazinkeh tantz: A joyous dance towards the end of the reception which honors parents who brought their last son or daughter to the Chuppah.

MeChuten: Father-in-law; also a new relationship to the other parents

MeChutonim: Relatives by marriage

Naches: Experiencing pleasure and pride in the accomplishment and virtues of one’s children

Ni-su-in: The nuptial portion of the wedding service

Oyfruf (Aufruf): Torah honor to the groom (and in some congregations to the bride as well) on the Sabbath before the wedding. In many synagogues, while the groom is reciting the blessing of the Aliya, the rest of the participants in the prayer services throw candy and other sweets at the bimah. A symbolic act, denoting the crowds wishes of a sweet life for the new bride and groom

Parashah: the weekly portion of the Torah

Sefirah: Literally, counting the period between Passover and Shavuot when weddings may not be held

Sephardim: Jews from Mediterranean countries, Spain or Portugal

Shabbat: Hebrew word for Sabbath

Shadchan: Hebrew word for a matchmaker

Sheva berachot: the seven marriage blessings, first recited under the Chuppah

Siman tov: A good sign, a good omen. A congratulatory form of wishing for good things

Simcha: Literally, “happiness.” A celebration, such as a wedding, bar mitzvah, etc. is called “simcha,” as is the joy of a celebration

Tallis or Tallit: A prayer shawl worn by married Jewish men in Orthodox synagogues and all adult men in conservative, reform, and reconstructionist synagogues.

Te-naim: Literally, “conditions” or “stipulations.” It is the name given to the engagement contract as well as to the celebration held when the contract is signed

Tish: Yiddish – literally table. Used to denote a festive table spread for the bride’s or the groom’s reception

Torah: The first five books of the Hebrew Bible

Tzedakah: Charity or the obligatory Jewish requirement of righteous giving and just behavior. Many Jews donate “Ma-aser” or 10% of their earning to needy people or charitable organizations.

Unterfirer: Yiddish, the people who escort the bride and groom to the Chuppah. Most often parents escort their sons and daughters. In some circles, mothers of the bride and groom escort the Kallah, and fathers of the about to be wed couple escorts the Chatan.

Yarmulke or Kippah: skullcap

Yichud: Literally, becoming one, or "union." The brief seclusion of the bride and groom immediately after the wedding ceremony symbolizes their becoming as one.

Zivug: Literally, “coupling.” Mainly referring to one’s preordained mate, what one would hope is the perfect match

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