Monday, August 13, 2012

JEWISH WEDDING: Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions

Although the basic elements of the Jewish wedding are exactly the same, there are some customs which are different from community to community. 

In the following lines I will present shortly four examples of customs that vary between the Sephardic and the Ashkenazi tradition.

SHABBAT CHATAN: The Ashkenazi tradition is to have the Shabbat Chatan, i.e, the Shabbat in which the groom is invited to be called up to the Tora (alyia) before the wedding, This Shabbat is called "Aufruf" , which in Yiddish means "calling up". In Sephardic communities the groom's Shabbat takes place the Shabat after the wedding.  

BEDEKEN: In the Ashkenazi tradition, prior to the actual wedding ceremony the groom accompanied by his parents, friends, and the Rabbi  amidst joyous singing of his friends, coversthe bride's face with a veil. The bride wears this veil until the conclusion of the Chuppah ceremony. In most Sephardic communities the bride walks to the Chuppa veiled, and the groom unveils the bride. The unveiling of the bride reminds the event in which Ya'aqob Abinu took Leah as his first wife believing that she was Rachel.

UNDER THE STARS: In many Ashkenazi communities the custom is to get married under the stars, i.e., weather permitting, the Chupa would take place outdoors and at night.  In Sephardic communities there is no such custom and weddings take placeoutdoors or indoors indistinctly and preferably during the day

WALKING AROUND THE GROOM: In most Ashkenazi communities, when the bride comes under the Chupa she walks around the groom seven times. According to Kabbalistic sources, the seven rounds represent the seven days of Creation: "Since every marriage is a re-enactment of the creative process, she walks around the groom to indicate that these seven cycles are now repeated". Sephardic Jews don't practice this custom.