There are many procedures and traditions when it comes to orthodox Jewish weddings, but one of the most intriguing has to do with jewellery – specifically, the gifting of the wedding ring to the bride and the lack of a wedding ring for the groom.
In orthodox Jewish tradition, the groom – or kallah – is the one who places a wedding ring on the right hand of the bride – or chatan – in order to signify the consent between them. Having said that, the question of Jewish men and wedding rings has become a bit more controversial over recent years, with many Jewish men now choosing to wear wedding rings despite the traditions of the ceremony.
With this in mind, what exactly is the problem with men and wedding rings in orthodox Jewish weddings? How does it differ from mainstream weddings, and is it really starting to change?
The Orthodox Ceremony
Although Jewish weddings often differ in variation, it is likely that you would find a chuppah, which resembles the home of Abraham and Sarah that was open on four sides to accept guests, a kiddushin, which is a part of the ceremony which involves the ring giving, and the breaking of the glass, which symbolises the destruction of the second temple.
According to tradition, the reason a ring is only given to the kallah is that the chatan is actively asking for her consent to the marriage. Centuries ago, this could even be signified through the giving of coin – or something of value – inferring that the chatan is “buying” an exclusivity with her. The ring itself has to be valuable and made of a precious metal, such as the Jewish rings on israeli centre of judaica site, with witnesses judging the metal before the ceremony actually takes place.
This is different to most mainstream wedding ceremonies today, especially in the US, where wedding rings are given both ways. This is due to the fact that, in most ceremonies, the wedding band is supposed to represent the eternal love and commitment that the couple are dedicating themselves to. They are then worn to show the world that they are married and committed to one another.
The Changing Traditions
Having said this, in recent times, there seems to be a change of the tide, especially when it comes to non-orthodox Jewish weddings. More and more Jewish men are choosing to join mainstream western culture, being gifted the wedding ring by the kallah and wearing it during everyday life in order to show their commitment to them.
Although this differs to orthodox Jewish wedding ceremonies, there have been many small, detailed changes over the years. The chuppah, for instance, is supposed to be placed outside, meaning the ceremony would be undertaken outdoors – which is not often the case in the twenty-first century.
Also, in some chassidic ceremonies, the kallah and chatan don’t sit together after the ceremony, and the men and women are segregated. In this way, not every Jewish wedding is going to be exactly the same. Wedding rings, especially, are a great way to symbolise their bond and eternal love, which is why more Jews are taking to it and sharing the ring-giving with the kallah.