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Staff Writer

 Keitzad m’rakdim lifnei ha-kallah? “How does one dance before the bride?”

This question, seemingly simple, is in fact a classic formulation of the array of normative procedures, customs and traditions surrounding the marriage ceremony and its attendant activities. Journal Watcher, in a seemingly counterintuitive way, turns first to Yemen for a look at something old, something new.

Struggling To ‘Get’ Out Of Unhappy Marriages

For agunot, the wedding is the easy part; it’s the divorce that’s a Herculean challenge.

Staff Writer

 When Sharon thinks back to her wedding night, she remembers how the lights of Jerusalem enveloped her, how she adored her groom, and also this: a kiss. After Sharon removed her deck tichel, the opaque cloth that fervently Orthodox brides wear to hide their faces, her new-mother-in-law grabbed her, planted a kiss on her cheek and whispered, “You’re part of the family now.”

Love, Lost and Found

The biblical romance between God and His people, just like all other emotional entanglements, is complicated.


 Love is not just joy and sweetness. “Love hurts” as the song goes and nowhere is the range of emotions that love excites more obvious than in the Bible.


My husband, a convert, is more observant than I am.


It is not because Claude was born Catholic that I consider us intermarried. No, it’s the conversion to Judaism that that did it. Though the smoke has cleared for a while—now that Shavuot is over, we are blissfully holiday-free until September—I know that when the High Holidays come, the differences between our commitment to religious practice will make themselves known once again.

 Melinda Camber Porter, Joe and Melinda Dancing in the Sunlight, 1985, Watercolor on paper 24” x 18”

Post-Wedding Planning

Looking beyond the ceremony to the realities of marriage.


 Weddings are perfect moments in time: celebrations of love, certainly, but also carefully crafted productions that express status, values and religious identity. Saturday-night dinner dance or Sunday afternoon in the backyard? Factory-farmed prime rib or sustainable wild salmon? Seven circles around the groom or none at all? Nothing is too insignificant to help a couple display their identity.

 Elderly couple embraces under the chupah after their wedding at Malben home for the aged. Netanya, Israel, 1959. Courtesy of th

The Decorated Contract

From birds to cityscapes, throughout history ketubah art reflects local traditions and contemporary styles.




 ‘And here is our ketubah…” 

Displayed proudly and prominently on the wall of a living room or bedroom in many a contemporary couple’s home, the ketubah—the marriage certificate—has become a mainstay of Jewish décor, a proud symbol both of the couple’s Jewish identity and of their bond with one another. And indeed, in modern, egalitarian contexts, the ketubah betokens mutuality and reciprocity.

  Fragments of the earliest surviving illuminated ketubah, Krems Austria, 1392 Vienna, Nationalbibliothek. Reproduced by permiss

Something Old, Something New

Algerian Jewish wedding traditions inspired a one-of-a-kind dress.


 I had never envisioned my own wedding until I met my husband Isaac four years ago. We wanted to create a wedding that would reflect both Jewish traditions as well as our own personalities. The summer before our wedding we spent three months in France, studying the colonial archives. At the time I was just beginning my dissertation about Jews during the Algerian War for decolonization (1954–1962).

 Norma DiSciullo

Dearly Beloved

On not losing a father, when gaining ‘the one’


 The weekend before our wedding last year my fiancé Jonathan and I, along with our beaming parents, visited the Long Island vineyard where we would be married. The day was bright, and Jon and I walked with the bouncy gait of the newly engaged. We had chosen the place just days before, and we were eager for our parents to see it — and love it. At 32, I was still bent on getting their approval on most things.

  Young married couple in the Cyprus detention camp spending some free time ‘at home’ in their blanketed-off section of a hut.

Revolutionary Love

When a prominent kohen fell in love with a convert in 1782, newly independent American Jews flouted halacha.


 The values of the American Revolution—liberty, freedom, and democracy—profoundly affected the Jewish community. Having successfully rebelled against the authority of England and its king, many early American Jews no longer submitted unquestioningly to any authorities, even religious ones. Like their Protestant and Catholic contemporaries, they insisted upon the right to make decisions, including marital decisions, for themselves.

 Ketubah of Jacob I. Cohen and Esther Mordecai.  Courtesy The Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.

Rabbi For A Day

Officiating at a wedding gives professor a new perspective on matrimony.


 I have suffered most of my life from a large case of rabbi envy. I was brought up surrounded by them, not only in school and shul, but at family gatherings as well. Uncles and later cousins carried the title. I eventually married the daughter of a rabbi. There was no escaping their sermonizing and officiating ways.

 Bride and groom under the chupah, with the author (not pictured) as rabbi. Photo: Karen Tweedy-Holmes.
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