Category Archives: Jewish Weddings

All Wrapped Up in Love: Incorporating a Tallit into Your Jewish Wedding


I have heard that many couples incorporate a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) into their wedding. What is the reason for this?

There are two main ways a couple can incorporate a tallit into their Jewish wedding ceremony:

  • they can use it as the canopy for the chuppah (marriage canopy)
  • the couple can be wrapped in the tallit for a portion of the wedding ceremony

Why do this?

When my daughter was a newborn, my beloved aunt made for her a beautiful baby blanket. The enclosed note read:”May she always be wrapped in love.”

As that small flannel blanket serves, for my daughter, as a reminder of abiding love, another four corned cloth serves, in Jewish tradition, as a reminder of an abiding, loving relationship: the tallit.

A tallit is a four cornered garment, with special knots at each of the four corners called tzitzit. Going back to the Torah, those tzitzit serve as a reminder of the sacred relationship that the Jewish people have with God and Torah. When we look at the tzitzit we are to remember the commandments and traditions of our people. (If you’d like to learn more, Rabbi Amy Scheinerman has a great explanation of tallit.)

Beyond this: if you were to ask someone who wears a tallit, or who remembers sitting next to a beloved grandparent or parent in synagogue who wrapped himself in a tallit, she might well share with you that the act of wearing (in the Hebrew, wrapping oneself) in that tallit helps her feel connected with, surrounded by, even enveloped by the loving protection of the Holy One.

A tallit can thus serve as a reminder of the Jewish home you are creating together.  Beyond this, it can be a way to consciously invite the loving Presence of the Source of Life and Love to surround you at the moment of your marriage. To be with you and guide you as you build your life together. Indeed, to help you wrap each other in love.

Dipping Challah in Honey: Celebrate a Sweet First Year of Marriage

Old Honey Pot (6740954363)

When most of us think about Jewish wedding traditions, our thoughts turn to the preparations for and to the day of the wedding itself. But what happens afterwards?

Whether you’ve already been celebrating holidays together, or are just now establishing your shared home life, Jewish tradition marks the first year of marriage in a special way — each week at the Shabbat dinner table.

In many homes, challah, that delicious twisted Sabbath bread, is dipped in salt on the Sabbath eve as a reminder of the Temple service long ago. However, during the first year of marriage a couple can dip their Shabbat challah into honey. Being sweet, the honey celebrates the sweetness and joy of their love and of their new life together.

This tradition of dipping challah in honey takes a page from Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) when everyone dips apples into honey to express their hopes for a good and sweet new year.

I imagine you could adapt this tradition in a number of ways – perhaps, by finding other sweet spreads (Nutella, anyone?) or, after the first year of marriage, by placing a jar of honey next to your challah on the Shabbat closest to your wedding anniversary.

Planning Your Jewish Wedding: What is a Ketubah?

What is a ketubah?  Why should we think about incorporating one into our wedding?  How do we pick one out? 

Originally a ketubah, or Jewish wedding contract, was a legal document that was given by a groom to his bride. It laid out the basic commitments the husband made to his wife, and its original purpose was to provide legal protection to women during marriage and in case of divorce or widowhood.

A traditional illustrated ketubah.

A traditional illustrated ketubah.

As the roles of men and women changed, and marriage became a commitment between two equals, the role of the ketubah has evolved as well.  Today in Reform (and other progressive) Jewish practices, the ketubah is a document that expresses the commitments the wedding couple makes to each other. These commitments might include: honoring and cherishing one another; listening to one another; or acting with love and respect towards one another.

“Above all, choose a ketubah with artwork you love and with words that speak to you, frame it beautifully, and display it proudly in the home you establish together.”

I encourage you to view choosing your ketubah as an opportunity to connect with each other about what matters most.  Take some time some time to discuss what being married means you. What are the commitments you make for each other? What are you hoping as you establish your home together?  How do you plan to care for and live with love towards one another? Use your answers to these questions to pick out a ketubah text that speaks to you and your relationship.

You’ll likely notice that most of the time a ketubah will include artwork.  This is because the ketubah is not meant to be tucked away in a drawer.  It is meant to be hung in the home, as a visible reminder of the loving commitments you make on your wedding day.

If you are asking a rabbi to officiate at your wedding or commitment ceremony, it is a good idea to ask him or her to take a look at the ketubah you’re considering.  She can help make sure that the text of the ketubah is a good fit for you. And, because some of the information that a couple needs to provide is in Hebrew, she can also help guide you in filling it out.

Above all, choose a ketubah with artwork you love and with words that speak to you, frame it beautifully, and display it proudly in the home you establish together.