Wedding in Neve Shalom

The Lord said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

According to Jewish tradition, marriage is the most ideal condition for human beings, as well as the first social institution whose rules were determined by God. In Sephardic societies, the wedding ceremony is usually held in a synagogue. In Istanbul, Neve Shalom is the largest synagogue of choice for this ceremony. The wedding can be performed any day of the week. In the past, it was considered appropriate for a virgin bride to marry on Wednesdays, but today, Sundays are preferred for wedding ceremonies.

The wedding ceremony begins with the writing of the ketubah, which can be considered a marriage contract. According to this, the groom signs an agreement to provide his bride with food, clothing and shelter, and to meet her emotional needs. Protecting women’s rights is so crucial in the Jewish family tradition that the ceremony cannot take place without signing this document. The agreement is written in Hebrew and Turkish in Turkey, and is the property of the bride to be kept in an easily accessible place throughout the marriage.

The wedding ceremony takes place under the chuppah, which represents the home that the young couple will build together. The four open sides of the chuppah, which consists of a tallit stretched over four poles, is considered as the symbol of the hospitality that Avraham and Sarah showed to their people in their own tents. The wedding ceremony, which was held under the tallit until recently according to Istanbul traditions, has now started to be performed under a chuppah upon the request of young couples.

Circumcision Ceremony (Brit Milah)

Then God said to Abraham:

“This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.”

And since the Prophet Abraham, the Jewish nation has embraced circumcision as a symbol of their agreement with God.

Beyond a simple medical procedure, circumcision is interpreted as the acceptance of a newborn boy into the Jewish tradition.

In every country where Jews have lived for thousands of years, this tradition has always been practiced, even though it sometimes required a great sacrifice.

Among all other traditions, the Brit Milah is an indisputable proof of Jewish identity.

It is a sublime occasion for every Jewish parent to experience this ceremony on the bimah of Neve Shalom Synagogue.

Pidyon Haben Ceremony

Then the Lord Said to Moses:

According to the ancient traditions, the first son of a family is dedicated to the service of God in a sanctuary.

Then the Lord said to Moses: “When God brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He promised you and your fathers, you shall devote to the Lord the first offspring of every womb, and the first offspring of every beast that you own; the males belong to the Lord and every first-born of man among your sons you shall redeem.”

Vijola Ceremony

The naming ceremony for newborn girls (Zeved Ha Bat, aka Vijola) in the Sephardic Jewish tradition is celebrated with a special ceremony in a synagogue within a month after birth. During the ceremony, the cantor recites prayers and hymns, blessing the mother’s deliverance (Birkat HaGomel) and the baby’s life and name.

Bat Mitzva Ceremony

Every Jewish girl who turns 12, is considered responsible for her own behaviors. This period considered as the transition to adulthood is celebrated with a Bat Mitzvah ceremony. This significant day can be celebrated individually or during a ceremony that is held collectively every year at the Neve Shalom Synagogue.

Tefillin/Bar Mitzva Ceremony

Every Jewish boy who turns 13 is considered to have the same rights with adults. In other words, he becomes a ‘bar mitzvah’. A Jewish boy who became a bar mitzvah is responsible for his own behaviors and decisions.

Bar is a Jewish word literally meaning ‘son’ in Hebrew and mitzvah means ‘commandment’ or ‘law’. Thus, Bar Mitzvah can be translated as ‘son of commandment’.

The first Monday or Thursday of his 13th birthday, the Jewish boy will go to the synagogue with his family and put on tefillin. From then on he can attend a minyan required for any ceremony. Attending the Shabbat prayer, reading the weekly parashah on the first Saturday following his tefillin ceremony is a tradition every Jewish family celebrates with pride.



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