On July 4th, Hubby and I went to our First Jewish Wedding.
Thanks to our dear friends, Pam and Glenn, who we met 17 years ago on a plane to Puerto Rico, we have learned and experienced so many wonderful traditions and celebrations in the Jewish culture.
Pam (who we fondly refer to as “Bub” or even more affectionately “the Bubster”), has exposed us to and invited us to join them in bar mitzvahs (both of her sons and her dear hubby), bat mitzvah (their daughter), Passover (with family and friends), Chanukah (gifts and foods and cards), and now, one of the most beautiful wedding ceremonies we have ever attended.
We have watched Kyle grow into an amazing young man, and we have fallen in love with sweet Anna along with Kyle. Theirs is a love that was destined to be despite the difference in religious backgrounds. You see, Kyle is Jewish and Anna was raised Catholic. (Much like Pam and Glenn where Pam was Jewish and Glenn was Catholic). The wedding ceremony for both, however, was a Jewish ceremony. This was a Reformed Jewish Temple and Ceremony as opposed to Orthodox, so I’m sure there may be many differences that I am not educated enough in the religion to discuss.
But I thought I would share what a beautiful ceremony Kyle and Anna celebrated and the deep, beautiful meaning behind the symbolism.
The structure that Kyle and Anna stood under on the altar – along with both sets of parents, Best Man and Maid of Honor – is called a Chuppah. The chuppah symbolizes the first home for the new couple. It is open on all sides to welcome family and friends who will support the couple as they begin their life together. It was beautiful to hear them recite their own, hand-written, very personal and very endearing vows to each other.
The heart of the Jewish wedding ceremony is The Seven Wedding Blessings. Themes of joy and celebration and the power of love are expressed while the number 7 reminds all of the seven days of creation. The first blessing begins with Kiddush and the final blessing culminates with the image of the community singing and celebrating with the bride and groom.
Anna and Kyle created a very special Ketubah in a photo of the two of them with many special words on it. Ketubah means that which is written and was an ancient contract – written in Aramaic (the language of the time) – as a guarantee of monetary compensation in the event of the dissolution of the marriage. In present day, the Ketubah represents emotional love, trust and commitment to one another. The Ketubah is signed by the couple and witnesses prior to the actual wedding ceremony.
The Kiddush is the blessing over the wine. The first cup symbolizes the cup of life to be shared together. This blessing is combined with the ancient betrothal part of the ceremony. Laurel Barr, the Officiant of the Wedding, who was also the cantor for Kyle’s bar mitzvah over a decade ago, performed the ceremony in such a sweet and humorous and personal way that all of us there could not help but share in the joy.
I loved how the whole ceremony involved both families the entire time culminating with hugs and prayers,
and wrapping Kyle and Anna in Kyle’s bar mitzvah prayer shawl. It truly brought tears to my eyes.
And, of course, the ceremony concluded with the ancient tradition of breaking the wine glass. The meaning of this is somewhat controversial. One common explanation is that breaking the glass is a symbol of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Also, the shards of glass are plentiful, and this can represent the hope for abundant happiness in life.
The long-awaited kiss was welcomed with cheers and tears and smiles.
Here is the happy couple.
And our dear, sweet Bubby and Glenn ❤
followed by Kyle’s sister, Ally,
and brother, Bryan. All smiles as they joyfully welcome our beloved Anna into the family.
The reception was so much fun! We were immediately greeted with a SWEET candy bar featuring bowls full of favorites,
and take-out containers for midnight snacks.
Though there was no cookie table as is tradition in our Pittsburgh/Mars region, there were plenty of sweet treats between the candy
and the beautiful cake and pastries.
We had a very special table. The BEST table at the wedding! Table #14.
Table #14 featured a picture of Kyle at 14 years old (as well as one of Anna on the other side at 14). This was the year our families had a Football bet between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, who were vying in the playoffs for the Super Bowl position. The family bet was that whoever’s team won had to send all their team’s paraphernalia they owned (sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats, towels, etc.) to the other family – and that family had to wear it to work and school one day that week. Well, our dear Griffith family lost – but they sure had fun with it. In fact, they made us a complete album of photos with each of them wearing their Steelers shirt or hat in school, with their class mates, with their work friends, even a family photo of them “mooning” us in their shirts! (You’ll have to visit to see that one!)
This one at Table #14 was Kyle pretending to flush our sacred Steelers Terrible Towel down the toilet!
It was fun to watch them do a traditional Hora chair dance where the groomsmen carried each of them up high and everyone danced around them. Kyle recorded the whole thing with his GoPro.
And we all hooped and hollered! And I danced well beyond 20,000 steps on my FitBit that evening!
The day after, Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom just happened to show up at breakfast in coordinating black and white chevron outfits – and matching smiles!
And when I expressed to the family that this was our first Jewish Wedding, Anna, the new bride, said,
We smiled and hugged.
Thanks for letting us be part of it dear Griffith and Genova family!
We love you!
Cheers & Hugs,