“With this ring you are consecrated (m’kudeshet) unto me
according to the laws of Moshe and the people Israel.”
Through this simple declaration and with an exchange of rings, two individuals are joined in a binding union. Two witnesses validate this ceremony that marks a change in the couple’s legal status. But of course, a Jewish marriage does more than changes a person’s legal status. It is a holy, transforming experience. A couple’s wedding day will likely be one of the most significant occasions in their lives. Through it, a couple publicly affirms the love they share, express the beliefs and values they hold dear and dreams towards which they will strive. But it is still more. The word m’kudeshet recited during the exchange of rings teaches us that a Jewish wedding is a “consecration.” It is a sanctification of life itself.
The Hebrew word for marriage is kiddushin– “holiness” is derived from the Hebrew word kadosh (meaning, “to be holy, separate and distinct”). When a couple enters the bonds of kiddushin, they enter a relationship that says to the world that they are set apart from everyone else. Their lives are now inextricably bound together by a holy bond. But a Jewish marriage celebrates more than just the union of two individuals. It is understood to be the beginning of a new world. This is what the Zohar, a book of Jewish mysticism, means when it teaches: “God is constantly creating new worlds by causing marriages to take place.” Marriage marks the creation of a new Jewish family. For this reason, it is a cause for celebration for the entire Jewish people.
You are strongly encouraged to participate in the Beth El Newly Engaged Workshop. Engaged and recently married couples are invited to participate in four 2-hour workshops jointly conducted by the Jewish Family and Children’s Service and our Beth El staff. The workshops consist of exercises, discussions, and Jewish study of important marital issues such as communication, intimacy and sexuality, and building a Jewish home and family.
When planning a wedding, there are decisions to make and events to plan. There are ancient traditions to understand and new traditions to create. To help couples through the maze of planning a simha, we have put together a short booklet. The Beth El Wedding Booklet describes the primary rituals associated with weddings. In addition, it contains our synagogue policies regarding weddings, a time line/check list for wedding planning, a list of resources and contacts in the Minneapolis area, and much more. For more information on wedding traditions or planning a wedding, check out the Beth El Learning Center or speak with one of the rabbis.