16 Jewish Wedding Readings for a Memorable Ceremony

Jewish weddings are deeply rooted in tradition and espouse love, commitment, and spiritual connection. Couples can add readings to further personalize their ceremonies, giving the guests a glimpse of their story and their values as partners.

A profound example of a Jewish wedding reading comes from Ethics of the Fathers 5:16: “A love that is dependent on something—when the thing ceases, the love also ceases. But a love that is not dependent on anything never ceases.”

Below are more examples of readings you can incorporate into your Jewish wedding ceremony, followed by tips to help you choose the perfect reading.    

Jewish Wedding Readings for a Lovely Ceremony

man in white button up holding a star of david necklace

1. Ani L’Dodi v’Dodi Li (Song of Songs 6:3)

I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.

Perhaps one of the most popular choices, this selection from Song of Songs has multiple layers of meanings. It can encompass your relationship with God, your relationship with yourself, and most importantly in this context, your relationship with your partner.

2. Bereishit (Genesis 2:18-24)

And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man is alone; I shall make him a helpmate opposite him.

And the Lord God formed from the earth every beast of the field and every fowl of the heavens, and He brought [it] to man to see what he would call it, and whatever the man called each living thing, that was its name.

And man named all the cattle and the fowl of the heavens and all the beasts of the field, but for man, he did not find a helpmate opposite him.

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon man, and he slept, and He took one of his sides, and He closed the flesh in its place.

And the Lord God built the side that He had taken from man into a woman, and He brought her to man.

And man said, “This time, it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called ishah (woman) because this one was taken from ish (man).”

Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

For the more traditional couples, this reading for a Jewish wedding reminds us that marriage is a divine partnership. The lines also tell the story of the Creation of man, woman, and the entire world.

3. Birkat Habayit (Blessing for the Home)

Let no sadness come through this gate.

Let no trouble come to this dwelling.

Let no fear come through this door.

Let no conflict be in this place.

Let this home be filled with blessing and peace.

This blessing is highly fitting for newlyweds who will be moving into a new home together. When hung in the house, these words can bring good fortune to the homeowners and protect them from any evil spirits.

4. Ethics of the Fathers, 5:16

A love that is dependent on something—when the thing ceases, the love also ceases. But a love that is not dependent on anything never ceases.

This short but impactful Jewish wedding reading reminds couples to love one another unconditionally. In other words, do not let your love hinge on anything like looks, wealth, or passion alone; love your partner for who they are.

5. A Quote from the Baal Shem Tov

For every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven, and when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, the streams of light flow together, and a single brighter light goes forth from that united being.

Baal Shem Tov is a prominent figure in Jewish history; he is known as the founder of Hasidic Judaism. His words are venerated by his followers even to this day. The quote above talks about the ethereal and transcendent beauty of soulmates meeting and uniting into one being.

6. Song of Songs 8:6-7

Place me like a seal over your heart,

like a seal on your arm;

for love is as strong as death,

its jealousy unyielding as the grave.

It burns like blazing fire,

like a mighty flame.

Many waters cannot quench love;

rivers cannot sweep it away.

If one were to give

all the wealth of one’s house for love,

it would be utterly scorned.

Another reading for a Jewish wedding from the Song of Songs, these verses are a prayer for a strong and resilient love. They also tell us to love each other passionately and encompassingly.

7. Excerpt from Robert Browning’s “Rabbi Ben Ezra”

Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be,

The last of life, for which the first was made:

Our times are in His hand

Who saith “A whole I planned,

Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”

“Rabbi Ben Ezra” is a lengthy, complex, and overall beautiful work. The first stanza, however, fits wonderfully within a Jewish wedding ceremony; the words essentially point toward the value of growing old together, as wisdom and appreciation come with age.

8. Quote from Robert Burton’s “The Anatomy of Melancholy”

No cord nor cable can so forcibly draw, or hold so fast, as love can do with a twined thread.

This short and simple quote can be a profound reading for your wedding. It describes love’s power to bind two people—two communities—together. 

9. “I Belong in Your Arms” by Deborah Brideau

Finally I have found a place

Into which I fit perfectly, safely and securely

With no doubts, no fears, no sadness, no tears.

This place is filled with happiness and laughter,

Yet it is spacious enough to allow me the freedom to move around, to live my life and be myself.

This wonderful place, which I never believed really existed,

I have found, finally,

Inside your arms, Inside your heart, Inside your love

This romantic poem can be a heartwarming reading for your Jewish ceremony. It perfectly describes the feeling of warmth, safety, and joy you get when you are with your partner.

10. Birkat Kohanim (The Priestly Benediction)

May the LORD bless you, and keep you;

May the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;

May the LORD lift up His face to you, and give you peace.

Also called the Threefold Blessing, this Jewish wedding reading comes from Numbers 2:24–26. This traditional prayer is usually recited during the Musaf prayer after the Torah reading on holidays, but the words can serve as well-wishes for newlyweds.

11. “Honey From the Rock” by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

Each lifetime is the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

For some, there are more pieces.

For others, the puzzle is more difficult to assemble.

Some seem to be born with a nearly completed puzzle.

And so it goes.

 

Souls going this way and that.

Trying to assemble the myriad parts.

But know this, no one has within themselves, all of the pieces to their puzzle.

Like before the days when they used to seal jigsaw puzzles in cellophane.

Ensuring that all the pieces were there.

 

Everyone carries with them at least one and probably many pieces to someone else’s puzzle.

Sometimes they know it.

Sometimes they don’t.

 

And when you present your piece which is worthless to you, to another, whether you know it or not, whether they know it or not, you are a messenger from the most high.

This sentimental and meaningful reading talks about each of us having individual pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. When soulmates find each other, they can put their pieces together, and they will fit perfectly; this can then be the foundation of a beautiful married life.

12. Excerpt from Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi’s “The Illuminated Rumi”

The minute I heard my first love story,

I started looking for you, not knowing

how blind that was.

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.

They’re in each other all along.

If you and your partner believe in your heart that you are soulmates, this reading will encapsulate that emotion. This romantic poem can make you and your guests swoon at your Jewish wedding ceremony.

13. Excerpt from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Letters and Papers From Prison”

As you gave the ring to one another and have now received it a 2nd time from the hand of the pastor, so love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God. As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love.

It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.

This passage from Dietrich Bonhoeffer is ideal for Jewish couples renewing their vows. You can modify the first paragraph if you are saying vows for the first time. Regardless, the second line is a profound reminder that love alone is not enough for a great marriage—it takes work, commitment, and passion.

14. Traditional Swedish Proverb

Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow.

A short sweet reading for a Jewish wedding, this Swedish proverb reminds couples of the value of sharing. Troubles, challenges, and obstacles are only half as hard if you work together; the joys and pleasures of life are better when enjoyed with your spouse. That is partnership.

15. Marriage Advice From Unknown Author

Let your love be stronger than your hate or anger. Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break.

Different sources attribute this quote to different authors. Regardless, this short excerpt can be a beautiful wedding reading for your Jewish ceremony; it will resonate with everyone, but it is especially important for the newlyweds to hear this piece of advice.

16. “Assurance” by Emma Lazarus

Last night I slept, and when I woke her kiss

Still floated on my lips. For we had strayed

Together in my dream, through some dim glade,

Where the shy moonbeams scarce dared light our bliss.

The air was dank with dew, between the trees,

The hidden glow-worms kindled and were spent.

Cheek pressed to cheek, the cool, the hot night-breeze

Mingled our hair, our breath, and came and went,

As sporting with our passion. Low and deep

Spake in mine ear her voice: “And didst thou dream,

This could be buried? This could be sleep?

And love be thrall to death! Nay, whatso seem,

Have faith, dear heart; this is the thing that is!”

Thereon I woke, and on my lips her kiss.

Emma Lazarus was a prominent Jewish-American poet and activist who wrote during the latter half of the 19th century. The sonnet above is perfect for an intimate Jewish wedding reading, gorgeously visualizing the tenderness and often surreal feeling of being in love.

Choosing a Jewish Wedding Reading: Tips to Keep in Mind

text from the pentateuch

Keep the Reading Short and Sweet

As you look for readings, try to read them aloud and see how long each one takes. You are discouraged from choosing anything over five minutes, as the ceremony might drag along. If so, you risk losing the interest of your guests.

Explore Traditional and Cultural Sources

Before branching out to other works, you may want to look at culturally relevant sources first. For instance, the Hebrew Bible has a multitude of books and verses—think Song of Songs—that will enrich your Jewish ceremony.

You can also research prominent Jewish authors, such as Emma Lazarus and Hayim Nahman Bialik. They might have works that resonate with you and your partner.

Feel Free to Personalize

If a reading feels right, but you feel the need to tweak it a little, you can make small edits such as changing pronouns. However, be careful about personalizations; you might unintentionally change the meaning or lose it altogether.

Similarly, if two or more readings feel right, you have two options. First, you can find a way to incorporate all of them at different parts of the ceremony. Second, if they are short enough, you can combine them into one reading.

Keep Your Guests in Mind

In case not all your guests are Jewish, you may want to choose a reading that they can understand. This may mean having to explain parts of the text or translating it from another language.

Consult Your Officiant

Your rabbi can guide you in the process of choosing a reading. They can point you toward readings that fit the structure of the wedding and your values as a couple.

Reflect on Your Relationship

Essentially, the best wedding readings will encompass your values, principles, and views about relationships. As such, you and your partner should take some time to reflect on what you want your readings to say.

I didn’t include scripts anymore because we already have an article about that. It might be best to reword the title of this article

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