Significant Person: Moses Maimonides

Ethics: Bioethics

Ethical teachings:

  • Pikuach Nefesh (preservation of life)
  • Tzelem Elokim (made in the image of God)
  • Commandments of the Torah (laws and mitzvot - positive ones to be upheld and negative ones to be refrained from)

Pikuach Nefesh

Abortion and Euthanasia: directs Jews to not interfere, but rather preserve life

  • What they will do: avoid abortion unless under specific circumstances
  • Quote: “there is a time to be born and a time to die”
Orthodox - traditional and strictProgressive - Move with the times
Oppose: should preserve lifeSupport: if the mother’s quality of life is at jeopardy

Tzelem Elokim

Surrogacy: directs Jews to conceive naturally with biological sex cells to respect G-d’s omnipotence as creator.

  • What they will do: condemn surrogacy and not engage with it
  • Quote: “Thou shall not commit adultery”
Conservative - want to conserve the laws
Oppose: Sex cells must come biologically therefore to maintain the commandment “thou shall not commit adultery”

Commandments of the Torah

Gene therapy: direct Jews that they are the co-custodians of creation and help preserve G-d’s creation

  • What will they do: Jews may edit G-d’s creation in order to “subdue” creation for positive reasons
  • Quote: “Fulfill the earth and subdue it”
Follow a range of mitzvotIf it benefits creation

Significant Practice: Marriage

  • Marriage is a significant practice in the Jewish tradition, symbolising the union of a chatan (groom) and kallah (bride)
  • NOTE: Marriage is a rite, not a ritual, as Jewish adherents are expected to be married once in their lives.

Stages of the rite

  • The Jewish marriage ceremony can be split into 2 distinct components: Kiddushin (dedication) and nisuin (marriage)
    • Kiddushin basically stops the chatan and kallah from trying to marry anyone else.
      • In modern traditions, the Kiddushin is usually where the legal marriage contract is signed.
      • After Kiddushin, a get (Jewish divorce contract) is required if the couple wishes to split
    • Nisuin is the official religious marriage ritual

    Nisuin can be thought of as the bit where they tell G-d that they’re married now

    • Nisuin is the requirement for a marriage to be recognised by Jewish law.
    • Nisuin has historically occured up to a year after Kiddushin, but nowadays, both Nisuin and Kiddushin are performed as part of one longer ceremony
  • “Calling up” of the groom to read the Torah
  • Occurs during Shabbat 1 week before the wedding
  • In progressive Jewish traditions, both the bride and groom read from the Torah
  • Orthodox Jewish women visit the Mikveh pool
  • Form of ritual purification before marriage
  • Occurs one week before the wedding
  • “Veiling of the bride”
  • First time the Chatan and Kallah see each other on the wedding day
Reading of the Ketubah
  • The Ketubah is read aloud to those gathered

  • The Ketubah outlines the obligations of the groom to the bride, including food, clothing, and “marital relations”


  • The ketubah is considered a legally binding contract, although some countries1 do not recognise it in their legal systems

  • In orthodox traditions, the Ketubah is read in Aramaic, while Progressive and Modern couples may elect to have it read in their local language as well, or for a shortened version to be read.

  • The reading of the Ketubah marks the end of Kiddushin

  • Chatan and Kallah approach the Chuppah (A canopy supported by 4 poles or attendants) with their parents after signing the Ketubah
  • The Chuppah represents the new home that will be built by the couple after marriage
  • Remainder of the ceremony occurs under the Chuppah
Circling of the Groom
  • Kallah circles the chatan 7 times
  • Symbolises the breaking down of walls between the couple
  • In Progressive traditions, the groom and bride circle each other
Birkat Erusin
  • Initial blessings are said over wine
  • Performed by rabbi or family member
  • After the blessings, the Chatan and Kallah drink from the wine
Giving of the Rings
  • The chatan places a ring on the finger of the kallah
  • Chatan says:

“Behold you are sanctified (betrothed) to me with this ring, according to the Law of Moses and Israel.”

Sheva Berakhot
  • “Seven Blessings”
  • Formalises Nisuin
  • After the blessings are read, the chatan and kallah drink from the same cup
Breaking Of The Glass
  • The glass from the Sheva Berakhot is wrapped in a cloth and broken under the foot of the chatan
  • Serves as a reminder that even in great times, the couple will encounter strife

Marriage and the beliefs of Judaism

Marriage is an expression of the beliefs of Judaism, allowing adherents to fulfil their religious obligations.

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References/Extra Context

  1. Maldives, Mauritania, Somalia, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, Western Sahara, Algeria, Morocco, Comoros, Niger, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Palestine, Jordan, Djibouti, Libya, Mayotte, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Senegal, Gambia, Iraq, Kosovo, Mali, Turkmenistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Turkey, Guinea, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Oman, Kyrgyzstan, Brunei, Sierra Leone, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Kazahkstan, Syria, Burkina Faso, Malaysia, Albania, Chad, Lebanon, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Cote d’Ivore, Eritrea, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi, Kenya, India, Uganda, Suriname and Russia do not accept Ketubah as legally binding under any circumstances. Israel is the only country where every part of the Ketubah is considered legally binding. ↩︎