All imagery by Blake Ezra Photography. This is part 6 of the 8-part Jewish Wedding Traditions Explained series.
This is it, the time has come. With so much preparation carried out for this very moment, the ring placed upon the finger, every guest in the room hurriedly preparing their iPhones to take a shot, and clearing their vocal chords to shout “Mazal Tov”, it’s time to break the glass!
Such is the synonymy between Jewish weddings and smashing a glass, that we hear the most uber-cool Jewish wedding blog has been named after this very tradition. This site wasn’t named ‘Dancing the Hora’ or ‘Eating the Canapes’, but Smashing The Glass, as this is THE moment of the Jewish wedding.
The glass, usually wrapped up in a cloth or napkin, is placed on the floor in front of the groom. However before it is smashed, it’s traditional at most Jewish weddings for the Rabbi or Chazan (Cantor) to sing a Hebrew song called Im Eshkakech Yerushalayim, or in English… ‘If I forget you, Jerusalem’. This commemorates the falling of Jerusalem and destruction of the two Jewish temples that once stood there.
It’s said that whenever Jewish people experience immense joy, they should also remember the less joyous times in their ancestry. With celebration comes commemoration. So once the less beautiful times have been remembered, the time comes for the groom to break the glass. Why is this done? Great question.
There are many reasons that Jewish grooms break a glass at the end of their ceremony, sealing the marriage to their Bride. The first being, in keeping with the song that had just been sung, to commemorate the destruction faced by Jewish people over the past two thousand years, a nod to the suffering that had come before. After all, if you can remember the dark times even on the brightest of days, you’ll never allow them to be forgotten.