Written by Paula Jones Last updated: September 13, 2006
We’ve got in touch with the experts ‐ those people who conduct the marriage ceremony ‐ to ask all those wedding questions that you’ve always wanted to ask!
Rabbi Schochet leads a congregation of 1,200 members at Mill Hill United Synagogue, in north‐west London. A father of four, Rabbi Schochet is a regular contributor to newspapers and television programmes. United Synagogues ‐ of which there are 65 in the UK ‐ are orthodox in approach and adhere to the original teachings of the Torah (Jewish book of law).
Q. Where would you hire a chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy) from?
A. If you’re going to have an outside ceremony, there are a number of synagogues which can hire a chuppah out to you. Most synagogues have fixed chuppahs ready for couples who want to get married there.
Q. What advice do you have for non‐Jews who are going to attend a Jewish wedding?
A. In synagogue, male and married female guests should wear a head covering and follow a basic modest dress code ‐ that means no mini skirts and no cleavage. Most rabbis will give a little running commentary throughout proceedings so all guests will understand what’s going on. Also, if you’re attending an Orthodox ceremony, understand that men and women sit separately. There no audience participation apart from standing during certain parts of the ceremony, but this is all done on cue.
Q. Why don’t they play the Wedding March at Jewish weddings?
A. Because it is exactly that ‐ a Jewish wedding. There are many beautiful songs within the Jewish tradition which capture the essence of a Jewish woman ‐ such as ‘Eshet Chayil’ (‘Woman of Worth’) ‐ which can be played as the bride enters the synagogue.
Q. What does a Jewish wedding symbolise?
A. A Jewish wedding is the bonding together of two souls to become one. In the Jewish tradition, we believe that prior to the birth of a soul into this world, God declares who is going to marry whom and thus it’s our mission to find them. When we do find our ‘beshert’ (destined partner) and marry them, the sum total of these two souls becomes greater than sum of its parts. By getting married in synagogue a couple brings God into their union as well.
Q. My fiance and I don’t belong to a synagogue ‐ how can we find a rabbi to marry us?
A. You can get in touch with me! Click here for more information on Jewish wedding ceremonies…
Our various celebrants may offer very different answers to the same questions, not only because of the religious tradition they follow, but because they have their own personal views too ‐ religious questions don’t necessarily have a right or wrong answer!