Aufruf is a Yiddish word meaning to be
called up. The Shabbat before his wedding, a groom is called up to the Torah,
that is he is given an aliyah. In years gone by, the portion of Isaac
and Rebeccas betrothal was read at the aufruf.
Several reasons account for the aufruf custom. First, in the times of the
Temple, grooms would enter the courtyard through a special gate. All who saw
grooms entering would pray they would be blessed with children. Today the grooms
receive these blessings and good wishes from their fellow congregants. Second, a
Jewish king is commanded to write a Torah (a dose of divine law to
counterbalance the seductive powers given to a sovereign) and grooms are likened
to kings (and brides to queens).
Just like a member of the royal family, the groom is customarily accompanied to
the synagogue with a retinue of friends and family. Some grooms will wear their
wedding suits to the aufruf. Others wont want to chance dirtying their
clothes for the big day.
Once the groom completes his aliyah, some congregations will shower the
groom with candy. This custom is based upon a Talmudic account of tossing
nuts and toasted wheat at newlyweds (Berachot 50b). In Song of Songs
poetic rapture, a lover speaks of going down to a nut garden (6:11). Hard shells
must be cracked before a nut can be enjoyed. A couple need courage to open
barriers, let down their guard, in order to create a lasting intimate
relationship. Furthermore, the numerical value of the Hebrew word for nut,
egoz, is 17 which is equal to the words for sin (chet) and good (tov).
Taken together the nuts hint at the forgiveness of all the couples past
misdeeds and their entry into their marriage with a clean slate.
Candy and raisins are thrown to wish the couple a sweet and fruitful life.
Children collect the goodies and gain a sense of the sweet potential of
marriage. In the Talmudic era, a newly-married couple had grains and nuts
tossed at them, but only in the summer. Winter mud eliminated the possibility of
retrieving the tossed food, and there is a commandment against willful wasting
Word to the wise. Choose pre-wrapped, soft candies. Check with the rabbi. Some
synagogues have pelting policies.
Hosting an after-service kiddush is customary in many synagogues, and is
a way to share a couples happiness with the entire congregation.