Learn about some of the rituals of a Jewish Wedding
Think about what it means to make a commitment to marry someone
By the end of the lesson, the children will have learnt about the rituals in the Jewish wedding ceremony and thought about what it means to make a commitment to marry someone
- Brainstorm: What is Marriage? – Children to think about what marriage is and what it means to them. List on the whiteboard different thoughts and opinions. Children should be encouraged to think about who can get married, why people would get married and what it means to the couple and the family to go to a wedding. Ask children to give examples of weddings that they have been to.
- Rituals at a Jewish Wedding – Show children the clip of the wedding scene from Fiddler on the Roof. Ask the children to concentrate on what they can see being used and what actions take place during the ceremony. Make a list of the ritual objects and actions that they observed. (chuppah, circling, drinking wine, rings, smashing the glass etc.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aglgcKj4W0Q
- The Riutals – Discuss the significance of the rituals in the wedding ceremony:
Chuppah – A canopy under which the couple stand during their wedding ceremony. It consists of a cloth or sheet, sometimes a tallit, stretched or supported over four poles, or sometimes manually held up by attendants to the ceremony. A chuppah symbolises the home that the couple will build together.
Circling – Just as the world was built in seven days, the kallah is figuratively building the walls of the couple’s new world together. The number seven also symbolizes the wholeness and completeness that they cannot attain separately
Drinking Wine – A symbol of joy associated with Kiddush. Marriage, called Kiddushin, is the sanctification of a man and woman to each other.
Rings – In Jewish law, a marriage becomes official when the chatan gives an object of value to the kallah. This is traditionally done with a ring.
Smashing the glass – Many different reasons behind this. The Orthodox interpretation is about the destruction of the temple. A Liberal interpretation often given is that glass is breakable, but a marriage is not,
- The Ketubah– Show children examples of a Ketubah and explain the significance of signing the Ketubah. Traditionally the Ketubah sets out the rights and responsibility of the groom in relation to the bride.
- Option 1: Make a Chuppah – Explain to the class that they are going to work in small groups to make a chuppah. Make a project plan together listing what is needed and allocate roles. If the synagogue has a chuppah then put it together to show the children. Use kitchen roll holders or pipe cleaners as the poles and decorate with cloth, paper or any other resources you wish. Show children a tallit and encourage them to decorate the chuppah in similar patterns. When children have made their chuppah, lead a discussion about the significance of marriage and what it means to make a commitment to one person. (If the synagogue chuppah is used, have the discussion under this).
- Option 2: Drama and Discussion – Isaac and Rebekah – Having read the play and/or the story, ask the following questions and discuss the answers with the children:
(a) Is this an arranged marriage? Are there any advantages in this?
(b) What was the most important characteristic that attracted Rebekah to Eved?
(Focus on her act of loving kindness in fetching him water and his camels).
(c) What was the most important aspect for Abraham?
(Why do parents often want their children to marry people from the same culture or background?)
(d) Why do you think Rebekah was willing to leave her home and go with Eved?
(Are people sometimes tempted by wealth or power when they marry?)
(e) Did Isaac and Rebekah have a ceremony or legal document to show they were married?
(What is the difference between being married and living together?)
(f) What would the story be like if it took place today? – Children could re-write the play / act out a different scenario.
- Other Types of Relationships – Discuss the importance of equality in Liberal Judaism and how all types of relationships are welcomed. Perhaps list the different types of relationships seen within your own synagogue, such as one Jewish parent, same sex relationships/wedding, unmarried parents, mixed faith relationships etc. Refer to the Liberal Judaism website for more information http://www.liberaljudaism.org/
- Read Through Marriage Ceremony – Under the chuppah (if possible) read through the marriage ceremony from the Siddur pages 596-600, noting all the key parts of the ceremony.