Wedding Rituals for Parents

Experiencing a child's wedding from a parent's perspective.

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Dance and Celebration:In Jewish tradition, the wedding celebration continues the holiness of the ceremony; rejoicing with the bride and groom is a mitzvah (commandment). Tradition offers ways to honor parents amidst the joy. Many Jewish couples--even those who don't wish to include traditional Jewish circle dancing in their parties--take time during their receptions to celebrate with their parents. This could done by honoring them with the traditional mizinke dance, originally a tribute to a mother who has married off her last daughter. Today, sons and daughters often honor both parents with this dance, circling the father and mother and presenting them with floral garlands and bouquets. Other couples invite their parents to offer a toast, a poem, or a blessing to their children. In many cases, the children in turn offer a thank you blessing or toast to their parents, or even present their parents with a gift of appreciation.

The possibilities for acknowledging the emotional and spiritual impact of a child's wedding for parents are limitless, and couples, especially with the guidance of clergy, can find innovative ways to include parents in this lifecycle moment. Contemporary couples' independent lives may bear little resemblance to those of the generations that have come before them, but the complex emotions between parents and children remain very much the same.

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Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer is a freelance writer and educator based in Philadelphia. She is the author of two books of plays for children: The Magic Tanach and Other Short Plays and Extraordinary Jews: Staging Their Lives as well as The Creative Jewish Wedding Book.