If you’re lucky enough to be celebrating a marriage soon – or even if you aren’t and are just enjoying browsing – you might want to learn more about the importance and context of Jewish wedding rings before you make your choice. Wedding rings are often expensive and symbolize an eternal choice, so getting it right is really important. For a thorough introduction into Jewish wedding rings, including the famous Ani Ledodi ring, read on.
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Do Jewish Couples Wear Wedding Rings?
Yes. As with everything Jewish, exactly how they do it will depend on the couple’s specific custom. Some couples wear wedding rings in the secular, global style: both couples wearing a band on the fourth finger of the left hand.
However, many Jewish couples wear the wedding ring a little differently: instead of both groom and bride wearing a wedding ring, only the bride will wear one. She will also wear it on her index finger, and on her right hand. The reason for this is that the right hand has strong associations in Judaism: it’s the hand used for contracts and testimony, and some people may also relate it to the famous phrase, “If I forget Jerusalem, I forget my right hand”.
What Is a Jewish Wedding Ring?
A Jewish wedding ring is the ring that is given by the groom to the bride during a Jewish wedding. As with secular marriages, the ring is also worn after the wedding to signify and celebrate the wedding, even years and years after the ceremony has taken place.
In the original custom, the groom did not have to give a ring per se. He only needed to give a ‘bride price’, an item or amount of significant monetary value. This was an essential part of the marriage contract, and the first time the groom fulfilled his duty of providing for the bride. The ring may have initially been given as the bride price, as it was a convenient and valuable object.
The ring was adopted for several other reasons. First, it was used in marriage ceremonies by communities that Jewish people lived near or were a part of. Second, it had a symbolic value which must have appealed to couples then as it does now: a ring represents eternity, having no end or beginning– a very fitting message to bring to a wedding!
Another note: while in most truly traditional weddings the groom gives the bride a ring, in modern times, it is becoming more and more of practice to have the couple exchange rings. This is done for many reasons. Often, it’s a celebration of the equality in marriages nowadays; sometimes, it’s simply a romantic gesture in which the wife-to-be emphasizes her love for her husband as he does for her.
Are you attending a wedding soon? Check out our collection of Jewish wedding gifts!
How Are Jewish Wedding Rings Different?
Jewish weddings and secular weddings often look very similar at first glance–there is music, dancing, joy, family, and, usually, a woman wearing a very fancy dress. But how are Jewish wedding rings different from other wedding rings?
The answer is that it depends. For some Jewish couples, every part of the process–including engagement and wedding rings–look practically the same as the average Western wedding. As a result, the engagement ring is a thin metal band with a diamond on top, and the wedding rings are plain gold or silver. Jewish couples do not always seek out a specifically Jewish design for their weddings.
However, as with most things in a Jewish wedding, there is a lot of heritage when it comes to picking out a wedding ring. There is a seriously rich history of wedding rings in the Jewish world. Did you know that in the 18th and 19th centuries, some European Jewish communities would design enormous wedding rings with a giant house instead of a diamond on top?
Obviously, this sort of thing is less wearable these days. Not to mention splurging on a ring that heavy that’s made of good-quality gold would make it pretty hard to pay for a wedding in the first place!
Instead, Jewish couples tend to opt for the highly traditional, and very meaningful, ani le’dodi ring. These are rings inscribed or encrusted with the words אני לדודי ודודי לי (ani ledodi ve dodi li), or in English, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine”. It’s understandable why this message is so popular on wedding rings: it encapsulates the deep love couples feel for each other.
However, it also bears a cultural and religious significance: it’s from the Song of Solomon, or Song of Songs, an ancient Jewish poem about romantic love. In this poem, two voices (one male and one female), shower each other with praise, admiration, and yearning. The descriptive and passionate language has made the work the ultimate love poem in the Hebrew language, and it has been incorporated into weddings, ketubahs (marriage contracts), and, yes, wedding rings, for several hundred years.
Other Hebrew wedding rings are available that are inscribed with phrases from other poems, psalms and blessings, for example this stunning Shema Israel Ring. None are quite as ubiquitous as the ani ledodi ring, but they still make excellent options, particularly if you and your partner prefer going off the beaten track and doing things your own way.
What Is a Jewish Wedding Ring Called?
The Hebrew way to say a wedding ring is taba’at nisuim. Sellers of Israeli wedding rings, for instance, would call it this. Beyond that, there is no special word for a Jewish wedding ring – it’s just a wedding ring!
Where To Buy a Jewish Wedding Ring
Fine jewelry is more available now than ever before, and whichever style or material you happen to prefer, there are plenty of options available.
Having said that, if you want a truly Jewish wedding ring, the best option is to go with a Judaica seller. Judaica businesses differ from regular jewelry stores in that it emphasizes Jewish values, aesthetics and techniques. Many Judaica jewelers and craftsmen actually use methods passed down in their families for generations, meaning that they truly do have an insiders’ knowledge of the heritage of Jewish jewelry.
Beyond that, who you pick specifically will depend on what’s important to you. Perhaps supporting an independent or small-scale artist speaks to you; perhaps you want somebody who specializes in a specific material or technique. But remember, this ring will adorn you or your spouse for (hopefully) as long as you live: whatever you choose, make sure you both love it.
The Israeli Center of Judaica is a boutique that curates Judaica and Jewish jewelry from Israel based creators, bringing together a number of smaller businesses to one convenient platform. Inspired by their heritage and surroundings, these artists bring to the table a number of impressive and unique wedding ring designs that are sure to have wide appeal.
Top 3 Ani LeDodi Wedding Rings.
This ring has a simple but stunning, almost antique quality to it. The inscription is raised and encased in shiny black, so their presence and meaning really stand out. The phrase is delicately framed by two double-bands to draw extra attention to its meaning. Available in copper as well as traditional gold and silver, this classic ring works for both men and women.
Not all Hebrew wedding bands need to be a hundred percent traditional. This design comes studded with black diamonds on the front half, contrasting brightly with the inscribed letters. While the diamonds are noticeable up close, from afar they meld into one; people across from you will more likely see a mesmerizing ripple of light than a collection of tightly-gathered diamonds. Play with the gold, silver and copper options to find the perfect one for you.
Combining the above two designs, this ring includes both black Hebrew lettering and a façade of white diamonds. The diamonds peek out from the finger; the band itself is mostly only visible from the underside of the hand.
Mazal Tov To The Happy Couple!
Marriages are extraordinarily happy events, not only for the couple getting married but also for their friends and family. The commemoration of this special day is a sacred and cultural occasion, but ultimately it’s also highly personal. The Hebrew script ani ledodi ve dodi li perfectly encapsulates these two sides of a marriage, being both biblical in its origin and poetic and romantic in its content. It can arrive in different items as well, such as Ani Ledodi Kiddush Cup and Ani Ledodi Gold Necklace. We hope that whatever ring you choose, it serves as a lasting reminder of your love.
Check out the full collection of our Jewish Wedding Rings