JewishWedding and Funeral rituals
TheUS is home to about five million Jews out the total global estimateof 15 million. In the US, there are mainly three groups of Jewsnamely Reformed, Conservative, and Orthodox Jewish. These groupsfollow a culture that is highly influenced by their religion, Judaism(jewishweb.com). Weddings and Funeral are some of the events thathighlight this Jewish culture with the three groups having differenttakes.
ReformedJudaism perceives marriage as a holy union that brings together twopeople and two families. The moment alone is viewed as scared and isthus characterized by prayer. Two distinct prayers are offeredbirchoterusinwhich offer thanks for the engagement and the birchotnisuinfor the actual wedding (jewishweddingtraditions.org). These prayersare largely borrowed from the Tanakh. Orthodox Judaism believes thatthe Tanakh contains the teachings of God that He wrote down Himselfand was handed down to Moses on Mt. Sinai (orthodox-jews.com). ReformJudaism offers a different view which believes that the Tanakh wasactually written and interpreted by man (reformjudaism.org).
Generally,Judaism views a wedding or marriage as a union of two people thatbrings them together before god. It is often likened to the union ofSarah and Abraham from the Tanakh or Christian Bible. Reform andConservative Judaism recognizes such unions of same sex couples(uscj.org). However, Orthodox Judaism does not recognize same sexunions as holy and does not support such (orthodox-jews.com).
Forconservative and Orthodox Judaism, there is an important ritualperformed before the wedding called the Aufruf. Itinvolves thechattal(groom) and kallah(bride) reading from the Torah on the Sabbath before the wedding forConservative Judaism while in Orthodox Judaism, only the groom isinvolved. For the Orthodox Judaism, the groom is showered with sweetsby women of the congregation as wishes for a sweet fertile life(jewishweddingtraditions.org).
Theplace of the bride in the marriage is made clear during the weddingand signing of the marriage contract called ketuvahor ketubah.Under Orthodox Judaism, which follows traditional Judaism laws, thecontract is signed by the groom, rabbi and two male witnesses withthe bride left out (orthodox-jews.com). However, Reform andConservative Judaism allow the bride to sign the contract andadditional female witnesses maybe included. The ketubah,which largely outlines the groom’s responsibilities to the bride,is kept by the bride as proof of the grooms responsibilities underJewish law (Becher 2014).
Anotherwedding ritual that sets one group of Judaism from the other is onveiling of the bride (bride) or badekendi kallahor simply badeken.For Orthodox Judaism, the bride’s face is covered with a veil tosymbolize Rebecca (Rivka) covering her face when she was gettingmarried to Isaac as told in the Tanakh, genesis 29(orthodox-jews.com). For Reform Judaism, the veiling of the bride isdone by the groom after confirming her identity which symbolizes thefact that the groom is not ready to fall for the trick that Jacobfell into when Rachel was substitute for Leah (reformjudaism.org).Additionally, the groom veils the bride’s face to show that he isnot interested in the physical beauty but rather inner beauty (Becher2014).
Thethree groups of Judaism also display different rituals during deathand funerals. Under Orthodox Judaism, death is seen as an inevitablepart of life which is a bridge to the next life. The reading from theTorah “All of Israel has part in the next world" (MishnaSanhedrin 11:1) is often cited as the support for this belief(jewishweb.com). The belief in the next life by the Orthodox alsoprohibits autopsies and organ donation as the body should be buriedas a whole. By this belief also embalming which can lead to loss ofblood is also prohibited. Conservative and Reform Judaism both do notpractice these but allow organ donation and autopsies and post mortemexaminations (reformjudaism.org). In fact, Conservative Judaismviews organ donation as respect to the deceased which brings healingto the living (jewishweb.com).
OrthodoxJudaism insists on burying the dead as soon as possible usuallywithin 24 hours. During this time, the body must not be leftunaccompanied. In contrast, Reform Judaism is more relaxed on thisperforming burials on the second or third day and allowing embalmingof the body and allowing the body to be left unaccompanied.Conservative Judaism insist on Tachrichim(white linen shrouds) to be used to clothe the deceased in line withthe teachings of the Torah that in death all are equal (uscj.org).For deceased males, a kipahand a talitwith one end not trimmed is added to the tachrichim.Reform Judaism allow the deceased to be clothed in whatever cloth thefamily deems fit during the burial (jewishweb.com)
Conservativeand Orthodox Judaism practice the kriah.Itinvolves wearing a torn garment for the mourning family during the7-day mourning period (shivah). A black ribbon maybe worn tosubstitute for the torn garment with parents of the deceased wearingit on the left side above the heart while other family members shouldwear it on the right. For all the groups, music and flowers are notallowed during funerals (jewishweb.com).
Becher,M. (2014). The wedding ceremony. OhrSamayach.Retrieved from http://ohr.edu/1087
ConservativeJudaism (2014). Retrieved from, http://www.uscj.org/
Jewishweb (2014). Retrieved from,
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OrthodoxJudaism (2014) Retrieved from,
ReformJudaism (2014) Retrieved from, http://www.reformjudaism.org/