Rabbi Barbara Aiello
In his interesting and most useful book, “The Joy of the Jewish Wedding,”author Sol Zim writes
about the history and traditions surrounding the chuppah. He says, “In Talmudic times the marriage
was effected when the groom brought his bride into a ‘chupa,’ – special living quarters arranged for
the couple in the home of the groom’s parents. This bridal pavillion was often made of crimson silk
embroidered with gold… when the bride changed residences, the community recognized that the
couple was legally married.”
Zim goes on to say that as early as the 1300’s in Europe, the chuppah was an accepted symbol of
the Jewish marriage. Then economic difficulties created a situation where it was just too costly for
families to prepare a separate “chupah” residence. Thus the idea of the chuppah as wedding
canopy was born.
Rather than a completely separate residence, the chuppah became the symbolic room of the new
home that the couple would share as husband and wife. Today the chuppah is the most
recognizable symbol of the Jewish wedding. It is a canopy attached to four poles which are either
stationary or actually held in the hands of four chuppah bearers. The canopy itself can be made of
silk, velvet, tulle or lace. It can be multi-colored or plain, covered with flowers and greens. A tallit
(the Jewish prayer shawl) often graces the canopy and many times the tallit used is one that has
been in the family for generations.
Rabbi Barbara encourages couples to personalize their chuppah, using special cloth from family
celebrations to give it special meaning. The photos here are examples of personalized chuppot
created by couples and their families.
Chuppah (the bridal canopy)
The chuppah or wedding canopy is the
centerpiece of the Jewish wedding and
a beautiful way to personalize your
Jewish Interfaith wedding as well. In
this photo Jennifer and Enzo created
their own chuppah from pieces of
African cloth collected while they were
both aid workers in Africa. Rabbi
Barbara is available to help you create
your own personal chuppah as well.
|© 2007 Rabbi Barbara Aiello, All rights reserved.