As we came to this part of our planning process there were a few steps to consider.
- Traditionally, each blessing is recited by a Jewish man – we are egalitarian and also have close family who, by technical orthodox standards, are not Jewish.
- How can we choose only seven people? We want to honor both sides of the family and our family is quite large, and we have close friends who deserve an honor too!
- The English translation is so far gone for me to connect with – Could I and should I find a way to make it more meaningful for me?
- What about that uncle who isn’t religious, but we want to honor?
So we began to address these for ourselves.
- We chose to honor men and women of importance to us. As Conservative Jews, we believe men and women can equally be counted in a minyan and therefore can equally perform the mitzvah of reading one of the sheva brachot.
- We decided to honor more family and friends by having two readers honored per sheva brachot. One read the Hebrew followed by a reading of the English translation. For each sheva brachot, our families became symbolically integrated as well by having one relative or friend per side under the chuppah with us for each reading.
- In wanting to keep close to our roots and not veer too far away from the deep tradition of the sheva brachot, we reviewed many times and in the end only changed a few translations slightly, making them our own interpretations of the Hebrew text.
- In regards to that uncle – of course he was honored and would have read anything under our chuppah, but we made sure to give him one of the English translations that we changed slightly, knowing that its statement would not undermine his beliefs.
The main point – as with every step of Jewish Wedding Planning – take your time, review and reassess your priorities here and craft your Sheva Brachot to your unique connection with them and the tradition. As always, with the ceremony, check with your officiant to make sure everything’s kosher!
Here’s a peek at our translations/interpretations that we used under our chuppah.
1.The first blessing follows the tradition of beginning joyous occasions with a blessing over wine.
2.The second blessing honors G-d for creating the universe.
3.The third blessing alludes to the creation of man and woman, because newlyweds are considered to be reborn.
4.The fourth blessing refers to the creation of humans in the divine image, an image that continues to live with each generation.
5.The fifth blessing speaks of the joyous union of the bride and groom and the happiness that this bond creates throughout Zion and Jerusalem.
6.The sixth blessing prays that the bride and groom experience the joy Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden.
7.The final blessing contains ten synonyms for joy, paralleling the ten times that Israel is called a Kallah (bride) in scripture. (happiness, gladness, jubilation, cheer and delight, love, friendship, harmony and fellowship )The blessing ends with a prayer for joy and gladness in the streets of Jerusalem, and under the chuppah with the bride and groom.