Whether a glitzy, large wedding which requires two wedding planners, or a fully DIY eco- friendly affair, no two weddings, and no two couples, are alike. But when you strip away the crafts, bling, and creativity, all couples are the same: they are seeking a mythical day, and a personalized meaningful ceremony that speaks to who they are.
The Jewish wedding ceremony is beautiful, timeless, and can speak to our hearts and souls. If we understand it.
I operate on the assumption that most couples grew up with the wedding ceremony of Fiddler on the Roof and have learned little more, except perhaps what they Googled after they got engaged, or what they have seen when attending weddings themselves. Enter Beyond Breaking the Glass: A Spiritual Guide to Your Jewish Wedding, by Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener. Every couple with whom I work receives a copy, as a gift, of this book.
Now, equipped with an accessible resource, they can ask the questions: “What is a chuppah? Why do we have one?”, or “How can I personalize the ceremony?”, and more. The answers, in the Reform tradition, are offered options in a non-judgmental tone.
Each couple has embraced this book differently. Some take the checklist found beginning on page 115 quite seriously, copying it and handing me a copy at our last meeting with each ritual item carefully marked and why. Others have read about rituals, and learned about circling for example, for the first time, and found it to be a poignant celebration of their love for each other. Some have even found this book as an opportunity to explore Jewish life more fully, finding the symbols and prayers so beautiful that they are left wanting more.
The book Beyond Breaking the Glass: A Spiritual Guide to Your Jewish Wedding is a step in empowering couples to rely on an ages old, magnificent Jewish tradition to fulfill their desires to create the perfect wedding day. It isn’t filled with bling, but it is filled with something much deeper: the ring of a ceremony filled with deep and relevant experiences.
Rabbi Allison Vann serves Suburban Temple – Kol Ami in Beachwood, Ohio.