the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

The breaking of the "gloz" (glass) is probably the best known part of the Jewish wedding. It comes right at the end of the ceremony and is followed by festive shouts of "Mazel-Tov" and the bride and groom's first "kush" (kiss) as a married couple.

What is the meaning of the breaking of the "gloz"? There are many explanations.

In Abigail Pogrebin's new book titled, " Stars of David - Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish," Alan and Marilyn Bergman are interviewed. The Bergman's have written most of Barbra Streisand's famous lyrics ("The Way We Were," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," etc.). Alan, 80, tells about a ritual that he started years ago. Whenever he attends a Jewish wedding, he always picks up the broken glass, and puts it in a glass box. He gives it to the couple for their first "yortog" (anniversary).

Marilyn writes, "Those small acts, in and of themselves, bind and extend us. Stamping the glass under the chuppah is just one custom--most people don't even know what it symbolizes--but it makes a wedding Jewish, one couple to the next. As I imagined Alan bending over these shards, I suddenly wished someone had done that for me and my husband."

According to Rabbi Jamie Korngold, " Saving the glass is a new thing, similar to the fancy ketubot people now use. It's a big industry now to save them and make a mezuzah out of the broken shards. I would say 75% of the couples n ow save them."

And Rabbi Marc Wilson acknowledges that collecting the shards of the " mazel-tov" glass is a relatively new thing. " I am not cynical about it, because it is a nice sentiment. I have often seen one of the bridal party gather up the shards and present them to the couple as a memento, without any commercialized hoo-hah. Their highly-advertised commercialization of the contents of mezuzahs, menorahs, kiddish cups, etc., is kitschy. Then again, so much of contemporary American-Jewish ceremonial art is kitschy. Its become a considerable cottage industry, so to each his/her own. BTW [by the way], a more delicate and ancient bridal-glass related custom, practiced to this day in (I think but not certain) the Great Synagogue in Rome-- the glass is broken with a small, golden ceremonial hammer. Nice."

A Google search will show one web site after,,, etc. ,--which sell keepsakes for your crushed wedding " gloz."

Rabbi Tracy Nathan's Yom Kippur sermon (5754) titled, "Two Kinds of Sorrow, Two Kinds of Joy," discussed the wedding ceremony:

"I think when we have the experience of crying at a wedding ceremony and then dancing with joy afterwards, we feel we have been to a really good wedding. For a moment, we let ourselves open up to what might be missing in our lives, to let our hearts open to that moment filled with both sadness and the fullness of joy. Is this not what the breaking of the glass is about during the wedding ceremony? A recognition of mortality in the midst of a time of deep joy."

And what does this "shrayber" (writer) think about the keepsakes? " Es gefelt mir." (I like it!) ______ Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe married her husband, Howard, in 1958. The practice of saving the shards of the "mazel-tov" glass was not done at that time. However, she did receive a "K'nippel"--money tied in a knot in the corner of a handkerchief.


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

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