By Carol Guzman
Believe it or not, Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days to
get engaged. Perhaps, like me, you’ve noticed a lot more engagement
notifications or engagement photoshoots show up on your Facebook feed. According
to Brides, there is an uptick of engagements that take place
during December through March. As many of my friends prepare to take the next
step in their relationship (MAZEL TOV!) below are some Jewish customs that couples
may partake in during their engagement.
- Have a family member or close friend throw
you a L’
Chaim: Similar to an engagement party, a l’chaim is a
celebration where an engaged couple’s family and friends gather together to congratulate
the couple as they begin to plan for their big day.
Literally meaning the ‘conditions,’ the tena’im is
a document that signifies two families approving a match between their
children. The document can include instructions for finances, the time and date
of the wedding, and the penalties each family will face if either person
decides to back out. It is also customary for attendees to smash a plate to
commemorate the families’ approval of the union. The tena’im is a tradition
that has evolved over time and has modern reinterpretations.
On a Shabbat service before the wedding ceremony, the couple is called up to
the bimah, a synagogue’s elevated platform, and is given the honor
of an aliyah, the recitation of the blessing before and after the
Torah reading. Once the couple has finished reciting the blessing, it is
customary for congregants to pelt throw fruit gummies at the couple to
wish them a sweet and happy marriage.
a Wedding Officiant: A wedding officiant is a wonderful resource
that can help the couple incorporate Jewish traditions to make the wedding a meaningful
Jewish event. Whether you opt to have Jewish clergy, or a close friend
officiate the wedding, the earlier you communicate what ceremonial traditions are
important to you the better. Clergy members may also provide pre-marriage
counseling which can help the couple visualize and prepare for their future together.
- Genetic Screening:
During your pre-marital counseling sessions, your wedding officiant
may recommend getting carrier screening during your engagement. At least one in
four individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish descent is a carrier for at least one
“Jewish” genetic condition. However, it is important to note that while
individuals with Jewish ancestry are more likely to carry some of these
conditions, anyone, regardless of ethnicity, can be a carrier of any condition.
Therefore, it is important for Jewish and interfaith couples to know their
carrier status when planning for a family.
The Sarnoff Center wishes you mazel
tov on your engagement! Whether or not you choose to incorporate some of these customs
during your engagement, remember to focus on what is most important – your
relationship to each other.
To learn more about the Sarnoff
Center’s affordable, accessible carrier screening program or to speak with a
genetic counselor, visit JewishGenetics.org/cjg/get-screened
or contact us at GeneticScreening@juf.org.