Judaism 101

Want to feel confident walking into a synagogue, seder or shiva? Start with our Judaism 101 video collection.

Ketubah: The Jewish Wedding Contract

Marriage is about making a strong partnership. The marriage contract, or ketubah, formalizes some of these agreements, and there are many different ways to make it personal to your ceremony and relationship.

Chuppah: Jewish Wedding Canopy

While certain traditions appear in most Jewish weddings, there is always room for reinterpretation and reinvention.

Whether you’re planning a wedding or attending one, these videos can give you a brief explanation of the history of these traditions, and the many ways that couples have found of adapting them to our own time, and their own relationship.

 

This particular video about the Chuppah is part of a larger series exploring the basics of Jewish Lifecycles. Jewish tradition is often specific. There are a myriad of Jewish subcultures and people, and the conversations in this series explores the array of choices people make in interpreting ritual today. To learn more about Jewish Wedding traditions, Jewish Mourning Traditions and Jewish Baby Traditions please take a look at our collection of 20+ videos about rituals – old and new – presented through animation and interviews, here on our site.

 

Gratitude for Chuppah Video

The Lifecycles Project was made possible with generous support from The Koret Foundation, as part of their Initiative on Jewish Peoplehood. Based in San Francisco, the Koret Foundation supports groups like G-dcast that contribute to a thriving community enhancing the quality of life for all. Many additional thanks to our G-dcast writers, narrators, producers, directors, sound engineers, musicians, educational advisors, artists and animators for working so hard on this project. A very specific thank you from everyone at G-dcast to Camille Angel, Barbara Barza, Mayana Bonapart, Ben Bromfield, Rachel Brodie, Blaire Brown, Tammy Chang, Menachem Creditor, Lisa Finkelstein, Danielle Foreman, Roni Handler, Peter Kachtik, Stu Kelman, Julie Bernstein Klein, Deborah Kolben, Sarah Lefton, Chai Levy, Rachel Levinson, Aaron Mandel, Liz Nord, Russel Neiss, Matthue Roth, Emily Savage, Matt Savage, Dan Schifrin, Jeremy Shuback, Ilana Sichel, Lindsey Silken, Jeanne Stern, Oren Stevens, Brett Vanderbrook, Marilyn Wacks, Lesley Wynn, Leah Yamshon and David Zeeman.

Koret Foundation

What to Expect at a Jewish Wedding Ceremony

Don’t be in the dark about Jewish Wedding Traditions. There’s a lot of variation that you can expect, but just a few basic ingredients make up the core.

Engaged? Jewish Traditions Before a Wedding

So, you want to get married? Here are seven Jewish customs and traditions to know about before you meet under the Chuppah.

Why We Break the Glass at Jewish Weddings

What is this breaking the glass thing all about? Sure it’s fun to break things, but that’s not the only reason that we break the glass at Jewish weddings! There are many different interpretations of this tradition, so we’ve collected three.

The Hora: How to Dance at a Jewish Wedding

The Jewish wedding dance is super famous, and it’s called the Hora! When Hava Nagila starts playing, you don’t want to be the only one in the room who doesn’t know the hora!

To really dance like a pro, learn the words to Hava Nagila, and Siman Tov and Mazal Tov with our other Judaism 101 videos!

Siman Tov u’Mazal tov Lyrics video

Headed to a Jewish wedding? Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah? Any simcha (joyful occasion)? If you’re going to celebrate, or dance the horah, get ready by learning this staple of Jewish melodies – Siman Tov u’Mazal Tov! It’s easy and it’s fun.

The lyrics are in Hebrew, and they mean
A Good sign and Good luck! For us and for all the people Israel

L’chaim! And go get dancing! PS: to learn to dance the horah, check out this video from our Judaism 101 collection!

Hava Negila singalong

Hava Nagila (הבה נגילה‎) means “Let us rejoice,” and it’s an Israeli folk song that you have probably heard many many times at weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies, not to mention episodes of TV shows. It’s a staple of pretty much any Jewish band.

The tune is based on a Chasidic melody and was set to music in 1915’s Ottoman-era Palestine, when Hebrew was being revived for the first time as a spoken language in almost 2,000 years (since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE).

Ready to party? Make sure you know the words first with this Hava Negila lyrics video from Shaboom! LET’S REJOICE!

Explaining Multiple Traditions in One Ketubah

Shawn and his fiancee came from two different Jewish communities. They examined their own rituals about witnesses and found a new way to sign their Ketubah, Jewish wedding contract, that honored the traditions of both sides.

Couple Reinterprets the Sheva Brachot

Why not recreate the Sheva Brachot? When Miriam and Babak got married on top of a mountain at sunset, they re-examined all of the ancient Jewish wedding traditions and found personal twists to add. One powerful reinterpretation was a water ceremony created by Miriam and Babak to represent the Sheva Brachot (שבע ברכות‎ literally “the seven blessings”), traditionally chanted beneath the chuppah during a Jewish wedding ceremony.

 

Examining The Ritual of Breaking Glass

Why do Jews have a ritual of breaking glass at a weddings? At one of the many Jewish weddings that Elizheva has officiated as a lay person, she and the couple examined the ritual of breaking glass. Rather than simply breaking it, they used it as a moment to talk about brokenness and the Kabbalistic notion of a shattered vessel that exploded and created the universe.

This particular video is part of a larger series exploring the basics of Jewish Lifecycles. Jewish tradition is often specific. There are a myriad of Jewish subcultures and people, and the conversations in this series explores the array of choices people make in interpreting ritual today. Learn more about Jewish Wedding traditions, Jewish Mourning Traditions and Jewish Baby Traditions.

Margee Talks Wedding Tradition

When Margee and her partner decided to get married, it was important to them to have a traditional Jewish wedding. Despite the obvious nontraditional part of their wedding – they were two women planning a lesbian marriage. It took a lot of conversations to decide why and how to use traditional, Hebrew, religious language as a way to affirm their unique place in the Jewish community.

In the words from the Rabbi who tied this sacred knot between Margee and Kate, “The gift of this couple’s love is more than “tolerance,” more than “social inclusion” – it is holy. Jewish law has always striven to create wider circles of belonging, and it is good to that what was once within and now beyond Jewish acceptability has been replaced by the holiness of two women in Jewish covenantal relationship.

 

How to Get a Jewish Divorce

Want to learn about Jewish Divorce? Just as Judaism offers rituals to make marriage sacred…when divorce is necessary, Judaism also provides a sacred context. Interesting, right? While issues about ending a marriage can be messy and complex we have explained the one piece that can be rather… simple.

There are a myriad of Jewish subcultures and people, and the conversations in this video explores the array of choices people make in interpreting different types of Jewish rituals today.

 

This project was made possible with generous support from The Koret Foundation, as part of its Initiative on Jewish Peoplehood.

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