Some Traditions are Waiting to be Broken!

At the end of a Jewish wedding ceremony, there is the dramatic moment in which a wine glass (wrapped in a napkin) is placed on the ground. The groom stomps on and shatters the wine glass as the assembled guests shout their congratulations, “Mazel tov!” There are many interpretations for this portion of the ceremony.

  • It is a reminder that life holds both joy and sorrow and that the couple’s commitment must remain strong through good times and bad.
  • It represents the newly married couple breaking with their old lives and stepping forward into their new life together.
  • It symbolizes the fragility of human relationships, reminding the couple that great care must be taken to maintain the marriage bond.

The breaking of the glass by the groom is so integral to a Jewish wedding that many a Hollywood movie uses such a scene as a shorthand way of telling viewers that the bridal characters are Jewish. It was surprising therefore to attend my cousin David’s recent wedding, and to have this very traditional part of the ceremony used instead to symbolize the breaking of tradition. It was the bride, not the groom, who crushed the glass!

I am not a new-comer to unique life cycle ceremonies and I actually find them to be wonderful. David and Ellie, like many young couples, crafted a lovely ceremony that perfectly reflected their union. I should mention that they are both children of intermarried couples and each has one parent who is Jewish by birth. This gave them lots of traditions from which to pick and choose.

  • They opted not to have a clergy person marry them. Instead, a friend became an ordained wedding officiant online and performed the ceremony.
  • From Jewish tradition, they chose to stand under a canopy, the chupah. They chose to bless wine. They chose to sign a Jewish wedding certificate, the ketubah.
  • From the groom’s mother’s tradition, they chose a “Tying of the Hands” ceremony.
  • They also included poetry that was meaningful to them – and to the bride’s parents.
  • They wrote their own vows.

Coming home from the wedding I had lots to tell my friends about:

  • The unique ceremony!
  • The bride’s beautiful dress with its peek a boo midriff, not to mention her smile that lit up the room!
  • Even the groom’s attire was great! It included a bolo tie made by his late grandfather.
  • The outdoor garden venue was fabulous and the cool June evening couldn’t have been more delightful.
  • And the vegetarian food was not only delicious but beautiful to look at – I would hang photos of those gorgeous appetizers in my kitchen!

But beyond all these sights and sounds and tastes, I came home filled with joy from the human connection the wedding provided. I loved being together with my extended family and I loved extending the group further as we added Ellie and her loved ones to it.

Indeed, of all the traditions that Ellie and David included in their wedding, the one most meaningful to me was that they stood under the chupah. This canopy is a piece of fabric held over the couple by four poles. It represents the home the couple will make together, open on all sides to allow friends and family into their lives. I am very grateful that the sides of that chupah were wide enough to allow me, a second cousin, to enter.

Clearly, all these traditions have a lot of significance. If nothing else, they are so recognizable that they pull at our heart strings as they evoke other happy occasions in the past. And I love to get weepy as my heart strings are tugged. But I’ll tell you, I didn’t cry at the end of this wedding. I was too pumped up. Watching Ellie stomp on that wine glass was electrifying! I couldn’t help but think of all the glass ceilings in her future. Let’s face it, some traditions are just waiting to be broken!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 Comments

  1. Stefan Eckert says:

    Nice, in many ways!

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Thanks so much! We are no strangers to new-fangled baby namings, etc. All are great in my opinion!

  2. Bev says:

    Beautiful Lorie! Had me thinking of my Jewish traditions ❤️

  3. Vera Long says:

    Loved your eloquent descriptions! It was as if I were there!!!!

  4. Lisa says:

    💛

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      To the gal who did a great non-traditional baby naming for Little Red, thanks for reading the blog!

  5. Joel Campbell says:

    What a beautiful articulate description of a beautiful story that reflects a beautiful tradition….Well written, my friend.

  6. Rose says:

    Loved your link from the breaking of the wine glass to the breaking of glass ceilings! Bravo! Another great post.

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Thanks, Rose. When Ellie crushed the glass, the glass ceiling was my first thought. Since this young woman has a newly minted doctorate degree, I wouldn’t put it past her!!

  7. Carol says:

    As a Mom to 3 daughters, I loved the wedding blog. Well written and a joy to read. I will share this with my baby girl(32) who is moving in this direction!

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Thank you for reading the blog and for commenting! It is an exciting time when wedding bells start to ring for our kids…

  8. Dorothy Abram says:

    I am so glad you asked me to join into your blog. The description of the wedding was
    beautiful and it brought back all my memories of the week-end. I met so many
    wonderful family members from all the sides of both families and it was great to be
    able to share our week-end together.

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      I agree! I loved being with all our family and I loved meeting Ellie’s family!! Thanks for signing up for the blog. I appreciate your support VERY much!

  9. Barbara Kaplan says:

    Hi, Lorie,
    I loved your blog!!! And, as the mother of the bride, it made me so happy to re-live it through your beautiful description!! Thank you so much for sharing Ellie and David’s wonderful wedding.
    Barbara

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Thanks, Barbara! Glad you liked the blog. As I try to get my name “out there,” I hope you will share it with others.

  10. Dale P Brown says:

    How lucky this couple is to have you describe their ceremony. Both the ceremony and the description were beautiful!

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Thank you, Dale. From one writer to another, I struggled with the piece and was grateful when it finally fell into place. I’m even more grateful that it was so well received.

  11. Eric Sirkin says:

    Lorie, before the groom breaks the glass he says (or is supposed to say a prayer). In Hebrew the prayer is: אם אני אשכחך את חרושלים תשכח ימיני, תדבק לשוני לחכי אם לא אזכרכי, אם לא אעלה את חרושלים על רש שמחתי.

    It is from Psalm 137 from the Book of Isaiah. It was recited by the Jews who were forced into exile after the destruction of the first Temple around 540BC. Translated it means: “If I forget thee O Jerusalem may my right hand wither (become useless), May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem as my greatest joy.

    During EVERY Israeli wedding, US orthodox wedding, US conservative wedding, French Jewish wedding, etc. I said it at both of my weddings – one in Italy and one in Israel.

    It is said so that all Jews present know that at each very joyous occasion we remember the tragedy(s) that have befallen our people.

    Some reform “rabbis” have used a rather liberal interpretation of this tradition to suit their other political purposes in the USA.

    I do not know why it is the husband (by the time the prayer is said the Sheva Brachot have been recited so the couple are officially married) who says the prayer. But orthodoxy it is generally the male who says the prayer.

    All this being said, a new tradition has recently emerged in Israel which I view as very healthy. During the recitation of the Sheva Brachot (7 prayers) a male is invited to give (sing) the prayer in honor of the couple while a woman makes a statement from her heart regarding the couple and her best wishes for them. It seemed to have started only a couple of years ago. My wife and I did this during our recent marriage near Mt. Zion here in Jerusalem…

    best,

    eric

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Thanks for all this information, Eric, and for reading the blog. It’s always amazing how much there is to know about any given subject as you have proven here with the breaking of the glass. Thanks so much!

  12. Eric Sirkin says:

    Sorry, neglected to mention that the breaking of the glass is symbolic for the destruction of the Temple.

    And, with sincere apologies, I neglected to wish you a Mazal Tov on the happy occasion….

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.