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October 21, 1988 - Image 101

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-10-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


The author, in her bridal finery,
sits in front of the chuppah that
she and her friends made.
Photos by Debbi Cooper.

Hosting A
Chuppah Bee

With the help of your friends, you
can make your own chuppah-
a future family heirloom


Special to The Jewish News


he Talmud relates that
parents once celebrated
the birth of their chit=
en by planting trees — a cy-
press for a girl, a cedar for a
boy. When the children grew
up and were ready to marry,
the trees planted for the bride
and groom were cut down to
make the wedding canopy.
In the modern Jewish wed-
ding, many couples and their
families decide they want a
personalized chuppah, the
wedding canopy. Grand-
mothers take out their em-

broidery needles to make
family heirlooms for their
grandchildren, synagogues
commission works of art from
craftspeople, and some cou-
ples opt for raising aloft the
groom's tallit.
If you would like to make a
chuppah, you can turn the
project into a pre-wedding
celebration by involving your
friends in the work, as I did
when I held a chuppah bee.
The chuppah bee can be an al-
ternative to the bridal shower,
particularly if the bride and
groom have lived on their own
for many years and already
have an array of household
In the wedding ceremony,
the chuppah symbolizes the
new home of the bride and
groom. But unlike a real
house, it has no walls, sym-
bolizing that it is open to the
community. Having friends
and relatives participate in
making the canopy can make
this connection between the
couple and the community
even closer. This is especially
true when the finished prod-
uct becomes part of the cou-
ple's real home. Our chuppah
now hangs in our living room.
Using the chuppah after
the wedding is not a new idea.
Among the Ladino-speaking
Jews of the Levant, the velvet
brocade canopy became part
of the bride's dowry. It served
as a bedspread when a new
mother received visitors.

Since we had a traditional
wedding, in which the bride
and groom receive guests sep-
arately before the ceremony,
we hung the chuppah behind
the bridal chair at this recep-
tion. The illuminated ketubah
(marriage contract) was dis-
played at the groom's table.
After the ceremony, the chup-
pah also decorated the ban-
quet hall.
The picture on our chuppah,
a forest scene, faced down
onto the ceremony. On the lin-
ing side were embroidered our

Making a chuppah
isn't an expensive
undertaking, but
it does require
careful planning.

names, the date of the wed-
ding, and the names of the
participants in the bee.
A chuppah bee requires
only a small financial outlay,
but can take many hours of
planning and execution. Give
yourself plenty of time before-
hand to prepare for the bee,
and time between the bee and
the wedding to do any work
not completed by your
The chuppah technically
need only be big enough to
cover the bride and groom,
but most people like to have

the rabbi and the parents
stand under it as well. Our
chuppah was 5 feet by 4 feet.
I suggest working hi appli-
que. This method allows
many people to be working
independently at the same
time, each on a different part
of the whole design. It also
provides a range of work for
people of varying needle skill.
Using embroidered or cro-
cheted squares can accom-
plish the same purpose if this
fits your friends' skills.
lb prepare for the bee, first
sketch your ideas for a pic-
ture or geometric pattern on
paper. Avoid complicated pic-
tures which will be hard to
translate into fabric.
For the final drawing, use
graph paper and work to
scale. If your chuppah is 4
feet by 4 feet, for example, use
a piece of graph paper 8
inches by 8 inches. Each inch
on paper will represent 6
inches of cloth. A tree trunk
that is 6 inches long and 1
inch wide on paper will be-
come 3 feet long and 6 inches
wide on the chuppah. Thus
you will know how much
fabric to buy. It is useful to
color in the drawing with
crayon or pencil, so your
guests at the bee have an idea
what the finished product
should look like.
When you buy fabric, think
carefully about the image you
are creating. Varying textures
can be useful. Our forest



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