A Jewish Wedding on Friday the Thirteenth

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The look of pure love in Jesse’s eyes when he looks at his bride and recites his wedding vows is as obvious as Miriam’s joy in hearing them. It’s the sort of look that everyone should want their partner to have for them. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Friday the thirteenth may not be everyone’s idea of the perfect anniversary but for Jesse and Miriam Samuels it’s the perfect day to add to their already fairytale romance.

The couple met on a dating web site and it only took half of the first date and listening to Jesse’s “Eight Rules of Life”, which Miriam completely agreed with, before they both knew they were meant to be.  They married in a civil ceremony on January 21, 2014 and have lived in wedded bliss since but they are both Jewish and wanted to be married in the temple. Jewish Temples are pretty scarce in these parts of the USA so the couple renewed their vows and they were sealed in a traditional Jewish ceremony which took place at the Pioneer Center; it may not have been the temple but they did have two Rabbis; Rabbi Helene and Rabbi Zucky, officiate the service.

Rabbi Zucky recites the traditional Jewish blessings over the couple of which there are seven linking the couple to their faith in God. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Not that this couple had anything to prove to their community, anyone who knows them, knows how deeply in love they are and if they  don’t already know, one look at them and it’s obvious. Jesse looks at Miriam in a way that would make your heart melt; the way every woman wants her man to look at her, with pure love. Anyone who’s heard Miriam speak of her husband has gotten an earful of how wonderful and dedicated he is to her; together they truly make the perfect couple and are a constant reminder to everyone that true love does exist and can be found no matter how old you happen to be. This particular couple happens to be in their 70’s.

The wedding began with the couple’s friends holding up the Chuppah, (canopy). The Chuppah represents the home the couple will build together and is open on all sides to welcome people with unconditional hospitality. The Chatan (Groom) says a blessing for the marriage under the Chuppah.

Two cups of wine are used, the first accompanies the Betrothal blessing and is recited by the Rabbi then the couple drinks, for the first time, from the cup.

Tradition states that the Chatan must give the Kallah (Bride) an object of value for the marriage to be official. Traditionally the gift is a ring, plain and simple without adornments to symbolize the hope that the marriage will be one of simple beauty. The couple also recited their own vows to each other at this time the bride remained dry eyed throughout this part of the ceremony which is more than be said about the groom but the love that shone through the tears was genuine and touching.

The couple, each in their own turn, holds the wine glass to the lips of the perspective spouse without the recipient being allowed to touch the glass themselves.

The marriage contract is read in the original Aramaic text and outlines the Chatan’s responsibilities to his wife. Protecting and providing for a Jewish wife is so important that the marriage may not be solemnized until the contract has been completed.

The seven blessings, which link the Chatan and Kallah to their faith in God as the creator of the world, are recited over the second glass of wine which, after the blessing have been bestowed, the couple “serves” to one another. The couple, each in their own turn, holds the wine glass to the lips of the perspective spouse without the recipient being allowed to touch the glass themselves.

The final part of the ceremony is the breaking of the glass. It is often, mistakenly at this point that many will yell out Mazel Tov which means congratulations or good luck but it is inappropriate because the breaking of the glass actually symbolizes sadness at the destruction of the temple. In Jerusalem it identifies the couple with the spiritual and national destiny of the Jewish people.

The happy couple, Miriam and Jesse Samuels. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

It is the Ashkenazi custom to the break the glass before the reading of the marriage contract; the Sefardic custom is to break the glass at the end of the ceremony. It is often joked about that this is the last time the groom will ever get to “put his foot down.” Jews, even at the moments of their greatest joys are mindful of the Psalmist’s injunction to “set Jerusalem above my highest joy.” It is after this symbolic gesture is complete and the ceremony has ended that the guests can then give the shouts of good luck and congratulations to the happy couple; Mazel Tov!

Comments

  1. Teri Nehrenz says:

    Jesse and Miriam are truly an inspirational couple, never a harsh word about the other has been spoken by either. Their love is pure and strong and Miriam NEVER stops telling folks how truly amazing her hubby happens to be. Love them both, congrats you two lovebirds. The ceremony was lovely and thank you for letting us be a part of sharing in your happiness.

  2. Miriam Samuels says:

    Teri, thank you so much for this beautiful article. We will treasure it.

  3. Helen Hakanson says:

    Miriam – Thanks for sending me this link. I am so happy for you and Jesse. I know that being married by a rabbi in a traditional Jewish ceremony is really important to both of you, and I am glad that you were able to finally have this. Love to both of you. Helen

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