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Jewish Wedding Reception Customs and Traditions
A Reform Perspective by Rivka C. Berman

 • Wedding Reception How To's:
 • Badchanim: Wedding Jesters

Wedding Reception How-To’s
Strike up the band. Put on those dancing shoes. Pull your mother’s second cousin out of his chair. And dance. Bringing joy to the bride and groom is a wedding guest’s chief obligation.

Talmudic sages did their share to increase the merriment of the young couple. Rabbi Isaac would dance and juggle three myrtle twigs before a bride and groom. Hai bar Yehuda danced before a bride. Simon the son of Rabbi Isaac juggled while dancing.

Dancing with or around the new couple is one way to bring them joy. Fancy footwork is not a requirement. Hoist the bride and groom up on chairs as a circle of well-wishers swirl around them At some weddings, guests don oversized party hats and harlequin masks, light sparklers and rattle tambourines, balance wine bottles and turn cartwheels, all for the newlywed’s benefit.

The Talmud minces no words chastising those who refuse to gladden the newlyweds. “Anyone who has enjoyed a wedding feast but does notion to make the bride and groom happy has transgressed against the five voices: the voice of joy, the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, the voice of the bride., and the voice of the one who praises God.”

Badchanim: Wedding Jesters
Creating joy is a serious business. At some weddings, especially in Chassidic communities, badchans, professional jesters, are hired to entertain the crowd. These paid or voluntary jokesters deliver puns and comedic jabs in mostly Yiddish rhyme – couplets for the couple.

Adapt the badchan tradition, appoint a merrymaker in addition to the formal head of ceremonies. The badchan can tell jokes, encourage others to entertain the bride and groom, lead the guests in song, roast the couple while wearing a clown nose – whatever comes to mind.


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