The wedding Tallit – a special Jewish touch
The wedding Tallit – a
special Jewish touch
For North American Jews, it can come as a surprise to visit a synagogue in Israel and see kids running around wearing a tallit. In Mizrachi (sometimes called Sephardi) synagogues, it’s customary to wear a tallit from the age of bar mitzvah.
Most Ashkenazi (European) Jews do things a little differently: except when they’re called to the Torah for an aliyah, men don’t wear a tallit until after marriage, making a tallit one of the most meaningful gifts a groom can receive.
The tallit is a traditional gift from the bride or her family, but naturally, it has to be chosen with his tastes in mind: what size does he prefer?; is he looking for pure black and white, or would he be more comfortable in something a little more nuanced? Don’t forget the atarah, either, the “crown” that decorates one side of the tallit to indicate which way is up and add weight so it doesn’t slip off his shoulders. Some carry a simple blessing, while others are richly adorned in silver or other metals.
The first Shabbat the groom walks into synagogue wearing his new tallit, he is truly accepted by everyone around him as having “arrived” – he’s joined the community as a married Jewish man. While the wedding certainly makes the marriage legal, for lots of Ashkenazi men, pulling that brand-new tallit on in front of the entire congregation is what truly makes it official.