6 ways to make a chuppah tradition last a lifetime
By Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman/JNS.org
“Im eshkachech Yerushalayim, tishkach yemini.” If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
Boom. Crush. Crackle. The final step of a Jewish wedding’s chuppah ceremony is the moment that the groom steps on the glass to shouts of “Mazal Tov!”
There are countless interpretations for the tradition of breaking a glass. Some see it as a reminder of the destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem. Others say it is meant to remind us that marriage – and life itself — is as fragile as glass.
Whether progressive or traditional, religious or secular, Jewish weddings almost always include the breaking of a glass. Some use wine goblets wrapped in cloth napkins. Today, however, there are many artists designing vibrant, trendy, and often hand-blown Jewish wedding breaking glasses, and ultimately imaginative keepsakes in which to keep their shards.
Chana Perelman, director of Judaica.com., says it was artist Gary Rosenthal who popularized selling beautiful breaking glasses. Yet, Perelman says, the real joy comes not necessarily during the moment of the breaking, but when the couple decides to keep the glass. “Assign a reliable person—family member or friend—to take care of getting the glass from under the chuppah. The last thing you want is for it to get swept away by the hall,” says Perelman.
What can you do with those shards?
Here are six ideas:
Box it up
If you choose a dynamic breaking glass in a vibrant color, simply boxing the shards in a Lucite or glass box can be a real attraction. The box can sit on a bookshelf or be displayed on a countertop. The box can be purchased at a craft or jewelry store. Keeping such a box around, says Perelman, reminds the couple of that happy “Mazal Tov moment.”
The children — two boys, ages 6 and 8 — were asked to draw what they felt depicted the special day on which their dad would marry his new wife. “When we brought it to the chuppah, the rabbi was able to acknowledge it, and it made the boys feel good and included,” says Klein, who plans to frame the drawing with the glass and put it up in their house.
CAP Shari Klein preserves the broken glass from her Jewish wedding in a bag illustrated by her husband’s children.
Broken glass wedding albums, photo frames, and ketubah (marriage contract) frames are also popular. Gary Rosenthal’s Ahava wedding glass keepsake photo frame, made with the glass shards, is a large round frame that holds an eight-inch circular photo in a brass ring. The couple purchases the frame and receives step-by-step instructions for how to assemble it.
CAP: Artist Gary Rosenthal’s “Ahava” broken wedding glass keepsake photo frame.
The bride can take a piece of glass and commission a keepsake piece of jewelry. A search on Etsy.com reveals a lamp-work necklace from the broken glass of a Jewish wedding, created by Sari Glassman, who explains on the product page that she melted the pieces from the broken glass in the flame and added to them 22k gold leaf.
CAP: A creation of artist Sara Beames, who produces hand-blown glass—coming in a silk organza bag—to break at Jewish weddings.
Perelman recommends embedding wedding glass shards in a piece of pottery. Visit a paint-and-glaze store and ask to use the glass as part of a mosaic pottery project, or commission an artist to create their ideal piece.
Pinterest is an excellent platform for finding creative ideas for what to do with your broken wedding glass shards. Put “broken glass art” in the search bar and you’ll find everything from mirrors, to mosaics, to glass bottle collectibles, to garden stepping stones.
“I think the glass shards themselves are beautiful, and the fact that they harken back to the earliest days of the Jewish people is very meaningful,” says Faye Miller. “How wonderful to have a piece in your home that evokes memories of our people as well as the special moment when you became husband and wife. I love my job and consider it an honor when brides and grooms select my art for their wedding glass.” n
Honeymooning in the land of milk & honey
By Deborah Fineblum Schabb/JNS.org
Israel is a popular honeymoon destination for newlyweds from all over the world. Just look online for honeymoon packages for a sampling of the offerings, ranging from back-to-nature backpacking tours to five-star opulence.
Traditional Jewish couples stay close to home after their weddings for a week’s worth of sheva brachot (celebratory meals) with family and friends. Then, many often, take a few days away before getting down to the business of being married.
The 10-day honeymoon of Josh Tolub and Tabitha May-Tolub in Israel also served as an introduction to Jewish life. As an initially interfaith couple (Tabitha has long since converted to Judaism), they shared the transformative experience of enjoying the Jewish state together.
“It was a wonderful place for a honeymoon,” says Josh, whose family now resides in the Boston area. “It was a true emotional high, going to the Kotel, walking around Ben Yehuda Street, eating kosher Kentucky Fried Chicken, and seeing it all through [Tabitha’s] eyes and the wonderful emotions of her first time in Israel.”
A new program makes it even easier for couples to experience the magic of an Israeli honeymoon. This spring, Honeymoon Israel is sending pilot trips of newlyweds on heavily subsidized nine-day honeymoons. Honeymoon Israel’s co-CEO, Avi Rubel, says the chance to honeymoon in the Jewish state is “an opportunity to take people out of their normal atmosphere and give them a Jewish experience.”
However they are able to get there, opportunities abound for newly minted couples to celebrate in Israel and unwind from the wedding hoopla. Here is a sampling of 10:
For art lovers and mystics: Safed
It can also be Tsfat, Zefat, Zfat, Safad, Safes, Safet, or Tzfat. But however you spell it, this ancient northern city is elevated enough to command majestic views in every direction: from the Golan to Mt. Meron to Lebanon, Tiberias, and the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). For couples seeking to kick off their marriage on a spiritual high, Safed is also home to the mystical Jewish tradition of Kabbalah. In fact, tradition has it that the Messiah will come from Safed on his way to Jerusalem.
For water babies: Tiberias
Perched on the shores of Lake Kinneret, Tiberias gives honeymooners a chance to warm up nearly year-round. Here one can enjoy water sports and a marina along the extensive waterfront, ancient architecture, and historical and religious sites. Moshe ben Maimon (aka Maimonides or the Rambam) and other giants of Jewish thought are buried here.
For history buffs: Caesarea
Standing in the ruins of the Hellenistic and Crusader periods — when Caesarea was a port city and, for many years, the capital of Israel—might be practically the closest thing to time travel. Caesarea was named for Augustus Caesar and was a gift to him from King Herod, complete with a huge port and a thriving metropolis. In addition to a birds-eye view of 2,300 years of history, Caesarea also offers such modern attractions as golf courses, deep-sea diving, live music, an art museum, horse racing, and a large national park.
For nature lovers: Israel National Trail
The Israel National Trail invites hikers to traverse the country from south to north, from the Gulf of Aqaba in Eilat all the way to Dan, near the Lebanese border. The trail, which measures some 620 miles and takes a decidedly scenic path through the country, was the creation of journalist Avraham Tamir who, having hiked the Appalachian Trail, decided Israel needed its own national trail to show off its natural beauty.
For wine aficionados: Zikhron Ya’akov
You don’t need to love wine to honeymoon in Zikhron Ya’akov, but it certainly helps. Blessed with the golden sunshine to facilitate grape growing, Zikhron was established at the tip of the Carmel mountain range in 1882. Visitors will find a town rich in history (during World War I it was home to the underground that helped the British defeat the occupying Turks), the Museum of the First Aliyah, quaint crafts shops and eateries, architectural gems, and some of the finest winery tours in Israel.
For city slickers: Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is Israel’s undisputed economic, retail, and cultural epicenter. Honeymooners will find theater, a never-ending night life, crafts shows, architectural delights (including the world’s best specimens of Bauhaus architecture from the 1930s), a lively, outdoor shuk (market), live music, art galleries, the country’s finest restaurants — and, of course, the pristine white Mediterranean beaches. Nearby, Old Jaffa combines old and new in a decidedly hip fashion.
For heart specialists: Jerusalem
Conquerors have fought and died for Jerusalem for thousands of years, but they never vanquished its eternal beauty and splendor. The Kotel (Western Wall) and its Old City neighborhood welcome some 10 million visitors a year. Other attractions include theater, music, synagogues and yeshivas, architectural tours, historical sites, a world-famous shuk, and countless ancient sites. Getting around the city has never been easier thanks to a modern, sleek, and fast light-rail system. One must-see: the “Rakevet” — a popular walking and cycling path through the German Colony that has risen from the wreckage of a deserted train track.
For rest-and-relaxation seekers: the Dead Sea
The lowest spot on earth, the Dead Sea may be the highest for honeymooners. Couples can wash away the stress of the wedding with therapeutic mud. Located roughly 1,300 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is the world’s saltiest body of water. The salt has eased the pain of thousands who come annually to take in its healing properties.
For star gazers: Mitzpe Ramon
There’s something so romantic about lying on your back on a sleeping bag and having the entire Milky Way arrayed before you. This is the magic of the Ramon Crater at Mitzpe Ramon, where the absence of city lights means that stars are dazzlingly bright to the eye. Plus, there are Bedouin tents nearby to stay in at a low cost. Besides providing your own private light show, Mitzpe Ramon offers jeep, bicycle, and camel tours, rappelling, an array of desert animals, and historical sites.
For beach crawlers: Eilat
Eilat is Israel’s premier resort town, complete with scuba diving (the coral reefs are gorgeous), water skiing, world-class bird-watching, boating, and sizzling nightlife. Thanks to its balmy climate (it rains an average of six days a year), Eilat attracts sunbathers year-round. Look for a busy port and an under-water aquarium, along with land-based activities that include rappelling on steep cliffs, desert hikes, and mountain biking.