You and your groom have been planning for months and months, probably. Every conversation involves the word “wedding” and every time you see white, you get excited. The wedding planning process consumes a big chunk of your life, but the wedding festivities don’t really begin until about a week before the special day.
On the Shabbat prior to the wedding, the couple goes to synagogue and experiences the Jewish custom called the Aufruf. In modern congregations, the bride and groom experience this together, but traditionally, the Aufruf is when the groom is called to the bimah for an aliyah and recite a blessing over the Torah. Judaism honors children and the gifts they bring to the world. Creating children means continued faith and Torah study for the Jewish people. Therefore, it is no surprise that the groom’s aliyah includes reading the letters of the Torah, which contain the ten utterances of creation.
When the Aufruf takes place in relation to the wedding day varies depending on the family of Jewish people to which the bride and groom belong. Ashkenazi Jews enjoy the Aufruf ceremony on the Shabbat before the wedding. The Aufruf is held for Sephardic Jews on the Shabbat after the wedding. So, to recap: Ashkenazi, before; Sephardic, after. It’s even in alphabetical order and everything. Add that to the catchy methods to learn things like PEMDAS for math or Every Good Boy Does Fine for memorizing lines on a treble clef staff. But I digress…
Here’s the best part of the Aufruf. The congregation throws candy at you!!! CANDY. Thrown. In your direction. It’s like Halloween for almost-married grown ups. Like everything in Judaism, it’s symbolic. The candy symbolizes a sweet and fruitful marriage blessed with many children.
After the Aufruf, the family hosts a Kiddush for the congregation. Clearly it is an unspoken Jewish law to eat after any sort of milestone, so Aufruf joins the company of such life cycle occasions.
Our Aufruf was fun and special. Just being up on the bimah together, holding hands, reciting an aliyah, and receiving the rabbi’s blessings reminded us that the wedding day was near where we would again be brought together under the chuppah to become husband and wife. If your rabbi offers an opportunity for an Aufruf, I highly recommend taking part in this custom because it’s a wonderful stepping stone on your path to the ultimate wedding experience.