Monday, July 21, 2008

My First Jewish Wedding

This past weekend was wedding number three out of five that MAL and I have committed ourselves to in 2008. I'm a sucker for weddings and all, but five is a bit much in a short span of four months! However, I have to say that our wedding experience this weekend was rather enlightening. Not only did it take place on beautiful Torch Lake, but it was the first time either one of us had attended a Jewish wedding. I wasn't skeptical by any means because a union of two people in love carries the same meaning across a variety of religions. But being the born-and-raised Catholic that I am, I was interested to experience the differences in wedding rituals.

Let me just say, I was moved...almost to the point of converting! OK, so maybe that's a bit extreme, but I was deeply touched by the intimacy of the ceremony and how much emphasis was placed on the two individuals committing their lives to one another. I am Catholic (and God knows I put in my time at Mass while I was attending Catholic grade school!), therefore I feel I can harp a bit on the Catholic religion. Most Catholics will admit -- it's a bit formal and ritualistic. We stand, we sit, we recite prayers in unison, we kneel, we stand again, we come forward to take the Body and Blood of Christ, etc. The Jewish ceremony was nothing like that. Sure there were rituals, like the couple sharing a cup of wine with each other then each other's parents, standing under the chuppa (canopy) and the reading of the ketubah (marriage contract). Maybe it was the way the rabbi spoke so sincerely about the couple, or maybe it was the fact that although there were rituals, they didn't seem particularly rigid. All I know is that my attention was focused the entire time at the ceremony and I have a newly-discovered appreciation for weddings that aren't strictly Catholic.

My two favorite parts were when the rabbi read letters that the couple had written to each other. They, along with those in attendance, were hearing the confessions of a "forever commitment to one another" for the very first time. Yes, I choked up. I also really liked the Seven Blessings, where different members of the wedding party stood up and read seven separate blessings that were bestowed upon the newly married couple.

All in all, the Jewish ceremony could be summed up in three words: short, sweet, sincere. It really opened my eyes to the way different religions celebrate the matrimony of two people in love.

Mazal Tov!


Beckels said...

Sounds like fun! Did they get lifted on the chairs?!

Yes, 5 weddings is a lot- but so much fun! I can't wait to see you!

Tony said...

You went all the way to Houghton for a wedding!? What a drive! Great to see you had a good time and learn a bunch in the process!