Chuppah from Jewish Tradition (Anna Matusewicz)

Title: Chuppah from Jewish Tradition

General Information about Item:

  • Material Lore, wedding folklore
  • Language: Hebrew, English
  • Region of Origin: Middle East
  • Informant: Sara Jaecks-Metzenberg
  • Date Collected: 5-21-2019

Informant Data:

  • Sara Jaecks-Metzenberg is a 51-year-old woman living in Seattle, Washington. She grew up in a non-religious household in central Washington, has been married twice before this, and is a mother of two. She is currently married to Howard Metzenberg, who practices the Jewish religion, and is in the process of converting to Judaism because of this. She began the conversion practice around two years ago, shortly after her marriage to Howard, and finds the process challenging and enjoyable. My mother’s wedding was her first intro into Judaism, and she thinks of the event as my stepfather bringing her into his religion.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: Homeopathic magic ever present in Judaism, the most widely known of which is the tradition of lighting the Menorah during Hanukah to represent the oil that lasted for eight days, according to a passage in the Talmud, a sacred Jewish text. The Chuppah is another example of homeopathic magic as the Chuppah represents the home and it is meant to give the couple a happy life in their new home. Marriage is also a significant rite of transition in the Jewish religion with time spent under the Chuppah being the liminal stage. Additionally, the Chuppah is a representation of God’s influence as it is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.
  • Social Context: I collected this folklore by asking my mother for a piece of folklore that occurred during her wedding to my stepfather. Since I was at the wedding, this was both of our first exposures to the tradition of the Chuppah and to come extent what it symbolizes, though she learned more about it afterwards while converting. The Chuppah is a sort of tent over the couple being married and the whole ceremony with the rabbi takes place underneath it. It is typically a premade structure that can be ornate or simply a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, which can add extra religious significance to the ceremony.  The Chuppah represents the first home of the married couple and also God’s presence in the ceremony.

Item (Direct Quote):

  • “Something that was kind of important to us was the fact that I’m not Jewish—I mean even though I’m studying now—and Howard is Jewish. So we did what is called a Jewish style wedding so we couldn’t do it in a synagogue we couldn’t do it uh formally umm and so we had a friend, who happens to be a rabbi, who married us and we’re supposed to be under a Chuppah, which is a canopy, and uh we didn’t want to go all the way so what Howard did which was very sweet he took his tallit, which is the robes that you wear when you’re, when you’re in temple and he had four people hold that over our head you can you get a tallit when you go through your bar mitzvah right, or bat mitzvah, but bar mitzvah for Howard and he so it was his personal canopy that he did at the last moment he he held it up over our heads then we did we did all the sort of ceremonies that you would normally do only I had no idea really what was going on at the time.”

Informant’s Comments:

  • “It was very sweet to feel like you’re, you know, you’re kind of enclosed in a tent inside of your house inside our house and it was where everything happened and so it gave us a sense of intimacy to the ceremony for me.”

Collector’s Comments:

  • I really enjoyed witnessing this tradition during my mother’s wedding. I could tell the experience meant a lot to her.

Collector’s Name: Anna Matusewicz


  • Wedding Folklore
  • Jewish Lore
  • Rites of Transition



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