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Marriage is one of the most sacred and joyous of Jewish ceremonies. Traditionally, the marriage rites begin with the drawing up of a contract between the groom, bride, and their families. This agreement serves as an engagement. On the Sabbath before the wedding itself, the bridegroom is called up to the reading of the Torah, as is the father of the bride. Traditionally, the groom and bride fast on the wedding day. The wedding ceremony takes place under a huppah, or canopy, which represents the home. It is traditionally held in the open air. Preceded by the reading of the marriage contract, or ketubah, the ceremony consists of a series of benedictions thanking God for establishing the family, for creating man in His image, and for the joy of the wedding festivities. After the first benediction, the bridegroom places a ring on the finger of the hand of the bride, and says, “You are sanctified to me with this ring in accordance with the Law of Moses and Israel.” After the benedictions, ending with a prayer for the happiness of the bride and groom and for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the bridegroom breaks a glass. This is done to bring to mind the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, which must not be forgotten even on the most joyous occasions. Among certain Orthodox Jews, the festivities last for a whole week. Special benedictions for the happiness of groom and bride are said each evening, concluding with a feast on the seventh day.

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