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The Engagement
A Reform Perspective by Rivka C. Berman

 • Announcing an Engagement
 • Premarital Counseling

 • Genetic Testing Before Marriage
 • The Engagement Ring

Read this first: before any plans are announced it is best to call a rabbi. If you don’t know one, begin trying out services to find a rabbi you like. A rabbi you have some rapport with can make the whole Jewish marriage experience more meaningful. He or she will be able to guide you through the etiquette and halacha of a Jewish ceremony.

Announcing an Engagement
Share the good news of an engagement at the synagogue. Committing to marriage is the first step in beginning a new world of love. It is a positive act of tikkun olam, repairing the world, that deserves a rabbi’s blessing. Many congregations will call up the engaged couple, either together or separately for an aliyah, Torah honor.

Premarital Counseling
Enrich your ceremony by scheduling pre-wedding meetings with the rabbi. Find time to talk about more than the ceremony details. Judaism offers wisdom tested over thousands of years about marriage, sex, and family. For many Jews, pre-marital counseling is the first time they stepped into the synagogue since a bar or bat mitzvah. Take advantage of this private time with the rabbi to reacquaint yourself with Jewish life.

Genetic Testing
Before committing to marriage it is wise to undergo genetic testing. The legacy of generations of Jew marrying Jew is a proud tradition, but the limited circles in which Jewish men and women found each other, brought about an increase in occurrences of rare but devastating genetic diseases. Genetic diseases such as Tay-Sachs, Gouchers, Neimann-Pick, and others ravage children, leaving grieving, heartbroken parents. Though much research is being done to find ways to alleviate the suffering, there are no known cures as of now, and therapies are few. Genetic testing alerts a couple to their potential probabilities of giving birth to a child that may be afflicted by a genetic disease. Couples that test positive as carriers, should seek genetic counseling and may also benefit from discussing the results with a trusted rabbi.

Engagement Ring
Diamonds seldom sparkle as brightly as when they are perched on a bride’s finger. An engagement gift is an ancient tradition known as a “sivlon” or “savlan”. (The root of this term is similar to the word for patience “savlanut”., which may have something to do with the patience required during the waiting period between the time an engagement and wedding ceremony.)

A ring embedded with a gem or precious stone became a traditional sivlon because it is markedly different from the plain wedding band, distinguishing the wed from the betrothed. If finances are an issue, look into cubic zirconia (or CZ), the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2), a mineral that is widely synthesized for use as a diamond replica.  


Dating Jewish
• The Dowry (Nedunia)
• Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make me a Match!
Forbidden Marriages
• Engagement: Announcement and more
Marriage: A Jewish Perspective
Setting a Date for the Celebration of a Jewish Wedding
Double Wedding, Double the Fun?
• Jewish Wedding A Second Time Around
Mikvah:The Ritual Bath
Aufruf – A Torah Honor for the Groom
• Wedding Day Customs
• The Ketubah: The Jewish Marriage Contract
• The Reform Ketubah Text and Translation

• Ketubah Designs and Designation
• The Bedeking Ceremony: Veiling of the Bride
• The Chuppah - the Wedding Canopy
• Chuppah: Make Your Own Chuppah
• The Processional and the Chuppah Ceremony
• Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part I: The "Erusin" - the Engagement

• Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part II: The Ring and Its Significance
• Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part III: The Ketubah Reading
• Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part IV: Nesuin, the Marriage Ceremony
• Jewish Wedding Ceremony Part V: Breaking the Glass

• Yichud: Bride and Groom Retreat from Crowd for Alone-Time
• Jewish Wedding Reception Customs and Traditions

• Shana Rishona: The First Year of Marriage
• Practical Tips: List of things to bring to your wedding


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