One of the most beautiful wedding traditions is the Jewish chuppah. The chuppah, a Hebrew term, is a tapestry canopy that was first identified somewhere in the sixteenth century by Rabbi Moses Issereles. Legend has it that it was actually the groom’s home or an addition to his father’s home for the couple to live. The Bible says in Psalm 19:6 “the bridegroom emerging from his chuppah; however, in Joel 2:16 it says, “let the bridegroom emerge from his chamber [Chedro] and the bride from her chuppah.”
Whichever is true, today the chuppah is not merely a charming folk custom but a touching ceremonial object carried over from ancient times; it serves as the legal conclusion of the marriage process that began with betrothal. And, no matter the exact origin, this ancient tradition is in fact required for marriage and its concept, a tent with four posts with four open sides and a canopy is absolutely beautiful.
As far as the legal aspect, the chuppah constitutes a private domain in regard to the laws of the Sabbath, and it transforms the chuppah, technically, into the groom’s private home and during the service the bride and groom must stand under the chuppah. Please note that it is not necessary for rabbi, cantor, witnesses, or parents to be under the canopy.
This symbol teaches us that this simple, fragile roof, which is now common to both partners, launches the marriage. As William Henry Channing once said, “it teaches them to live contently with small means, to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy not respectable, and wealthy not rich” and that marriage is the establishment of a home, an island of sanity, peace and serenity.
We have seen quite a few personalized chuppahs decorated to reflect the bride’s and family’s traditions and personal taste—from simple to elegant, some with extreme floral arrangements, exquisite fabrics and trims, extraordinary wedding themes, color palette, and others with delicate memorable touches to honor loved ones.
In Baltimore, for those brides that prefer to design their own, we refer them to our dear friend, designer Randy Woods and the team at Wicked Willow, art with flowers. Wicked Willow has an incredible eye for design and style, particularly when it comes to chuppahs. These four distinctly different chuppahs are indeed one of a kind and a mere sampling from this designer and company. From whimsical birch pole chuppah at the beach, satin covered chuppah at the elegant Walters Art Gallery, or Birch pole chuppah at the Grand Lodge, www.wickedwillow.com aims to please.
Whatever you choose to do to for your chuppah–keep it personal, original and romantic. Remember, under this beautiful adornment is where you stand with the traditions of your ancestors, surrounded by your family and friends in anticipation of your future! How elegant and memorable that the symbol of a tallit (Jewish Prayer Cloth) is attached to the top of four portable poles and supported during your ceremony by your four best friends! “Tradition!”
Marsha Jews is the Editor-At-Large(USA) for World Bride Magazine and the founder of Marsha Jews & Company a full service marketing, business development, Wedding/Events/ Conference planning & management; and communications company. Marsha Jews is the Founder/CEO of WKIMRadioNetwork.com.
and the former Founder/Curator of the Herbert Bearman Art Gallery & Director of Events & Weddings at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum.
Marsha was Project Director on two community technology development grants: Harlem Renaissance 2K1 and NY-OneNet at the Institute of Learning Technologies and the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Columbia University, New York.
As President/COO/Associate Publisher at Career Communications Group Marsha managed Black Engineer/Hispanic and Information Technology Magazines; the Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference and was Co-Founder of the Women of Color Technology Awards Conference; Black Family and LaFamilia Technology Awareness Week(s).
The former Executive Director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation of Maryland; presenting Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Ailey II and AileyCamp and Director of Advertising for the 125-year-old Afro-American Newspaper, Inc.
Marsha was Vice President of Operations for the Marine Corps League Exhibit Company, and was the first black woman to produce the Modern Day Marine Force in Readiness Military Exposition and Awards Gala a program of the United States Marine Corps, Capitol Marines and the Marine Corps League, while simultaneously the Director of Advertising for the Amphibious Warfare Review Magazine.
Marsha is active in the community; former board member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and was the first Black Trustee to chair their Annual Gala; Commissioner- Maryland Public Television Commission; Founding board member of the Maryland Association for Nonprofit Organizations; former trustee for the College of Notre Dame and the Maryland Institute College of Art; Trustee at the Enoch Pratt Library, and has won numerous awards; Co‐Author in Incredible Business and is an avid volunteer and speaker.