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January 27, 1990 - Image 78

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-01-27

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Mother of the Bride
and occasion dresses

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At this time, the two witnesses are
present for the signing of the ketubah.
rFhe groom affirms the agreement by
holding up the handkerchief, and then
the ketubah is signed.

The Ketubah

The ketubah is the legal document
which attests to the marriage. Tradi-
tionally in Aramaic, it sets forth the
legal obligations of the husband to the
wife should he die or divorce her.
"The ketubah reflects the reality of
what was then a male-dominated
society," explains one rabbi, "and is
designed to protect the woman's
rights." There may be an addendum
to the ketubah to deal with a situation
where the husband will not give the
wife a get (divorce).
Many Reconstructionist rabbis use
a more egalitarian ketubah stating the
rights and responsibilities of both the
husband and wife.

The Mikvah

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Some rabbis encourage both the
man and the woman to partake of the
mikvah, to affirm the spiritual aspect
of their coming union. Emergence in-
to a pool of fresh and pure water, refer-
red to as the mayim chayim (living
water), is symbolic of the couple's en-
try into a new life together.
One's spiritual condition is also
reflected in a fast on the day of the
wedding. This fasting is likened to
Yom Kippur, in that it is a self-
introspection that will culminate in joy.
This fasting is customary, but the laws
are relaxed on the issue.
Along with the fasting, it is also sug-
gested that the future bride and groom
not see one another before the wed-
ding. It is customary for the couple to
be apart immediately prior to the wed-
ding, although some say three days
and a few recommend a week. This
reflects the philosophy that absence
makes the heart grow fonder.
Another very ancient custom, hav-
ing its origins with the first Jewish
marriage recorded in history, is the
bedecken, or veiling ceremony: When
Rebecca approaches Isaac for the first
time (Gen. 24:65), she covers her

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