Jewish Weddings Glossary of Terms

Robin Beth Schaer
by Robin Beth Schaer

Aliyah: "To go up" in Hebrew, common term for the honor of reciting a blessing before and after a Torah reading.

Aufruf: Ceremony in which the groom (and bride) are honored with an aliyah on the Shabbat before the wedding.

Aramaic: Semitic language related to Hebrew.

Ashkenazi: Jews of Eastern and Central European descent.

Badchan: Emcee of wedding celebration.

B'deken: Veiling of bride before the wedding ceremony.

Benchers: Prayer booklets containing the blessings for a meal.

Birkat Hamazon: Blessings recited after a meal.

Chatan: Hebrew word for groom.

Challah: Braided bread used at celebrations.

Chossen: Yiddish word for groom.

Erusin: Betrothal ceremony.

Ha-Motzi: Blessing recited over bread.

Haray Aht: Aramaic phrase recited during the ring ceremony.

Hava Nagila: Traditional Klezmer song played at Jewish weddings.

Hazzan: Cantor.

Henna: A plant dye used to stain the skin of brides.

Hiddur Mitzvah: The beautification of a ritual object.

Hora: Celebratory dance in which bride and groom are lifted up on chairs.

Huppah: Wedding canopy.

Kallah: Hebrew word for bride.

Kashrut: Jewish dietary law.

Ketubah: Marriage contract.

Kiddush: Blessing said over wine.

Kiddushin: Betrothal ceremony.

Kinyan: An act to demonstrate one's free will.

Kippot: Head coverings.

Kittel: Short, white ceremonial robe worn by groom on wedding day, also worn on holy days.

Klezmer: Traditional Yiddish celebratory music.

Kosher: Food that meets Jewish dietary restrictions.

Krenzel: Yiddish word for crown. Common term for the honorary dance Mezinke Tanz in reference to the crown of flowers placed in the mother of the brides hair during the dance.

Mazel Tov: Exclamation meaning, "Good Luck!"

Mesader Kiddushin: One who officated or leads the wedding ceremony.

Mezinke Tanz: Dance to honor parents who have married off their last child.

Mikvah: Ritual bath.

Minhag: Jewish customs.

Mitzvah: A good deed.

Mizrahi: Jews of Middle Eastern descent.

Nissuin: Nuptial ceremony.

Noche de Bano: Sephardic celebration after the bride visits a mikvah before her wedding.

Sephardi: Jews of Spanish, Portuguese, and North African descent.

S'eudah Mitzvah: Celebratory meal following a religious ritual.

Shabbat: Jewish Sabbath beginning Friday at sundown and ending Saturday at sundown.

Sheva Brachot: Seven marriage blessings recited under the huppah.

Simcha: Celebration of joy.

Tallis: Prayer shawl.

Tenaim: Formal engagement contract.

Tish: Yiddish for table, the light-hearted discussion held before the wedding ceremony.

Torah: First five books of the Hebrew Bible.

Yarmulkes: Head coverings.

Yihud: Brief seclusion of bride and groom immediately following wedding ceremony.

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