What is the “Chuppah” in a Jewish Wedding Ceremony?
The beautiful and unique “chuppah,” from the Hebrew word, חוּפָּה, is one of the most recognizable parts of a Jewish wedding ceremony. The chuppah symbolizes the new home that the couple will share as husband and wife, and consists of a canopy attached to four poles which are either stationary or held by chuppah bearers. This canopy is often gorgeous, made of beautifully colored velvet, lace, tulle, or even silk. It is sometimes covered by a Jewish prayer shawl, known as a tallit.
During a Jewish wedding ceremony, the bride and groom stand under the chuppah. Just as Abraham and Sarah’s tent was open on all sides to welcome people, the chuppah also represents hospitality to the couple’s guests. In a spiritual sense, the canopy over the chuppah symbolizes God’s presence over the covenant of marriage.
Since in Orthodox Judaism, it is ideal that there open sky directly above the chuppah, wedding ceremonies are often held outdoors.
It is a wonderful experience, for me as a Rabbi, to be part of this beautiful tradition. Under the chuppah are wine, cups and a glass that will be broken. I recite blessings and prayers, oversee the giving of the ring or rings, and share aloud the Ketubah, a type of Jewish prenuptial agreement, outling the rights and responsibilities of the groom, in relation to the bride. I may read poetry and lead the couple in the vows they have chosen.
It is a thrilling and almost mystical experience to help orchestrate these moments, combining two lives in such a traditional and powerful way.