Weddings are one of the loveliest forms of celebrations people can have and the way people celebrate the love of two people is heart-warming with all the details it consists from preparation to the wedding night itself. There is no single detail that you would want to miss because every detail matters.
Even if the wedding was very simple but what makes it even more beautiful is the traditions that makes it rich and authentic. Every society has their own set of traditions in weddings and they all have deep meanings and would make great memories for generations to remember. I personally enjoy the traditions in weddings and I think that no matter how modern we get, traditions should never be erased and must be celebrated in every way possible.
As you probably know, I am Amazigh by ethnicity as both my parents are and I have previously written an article about the traditional Amazigh Wedding in Libya and it made a huge success as I wrote about the details of my mother’s wedding and attached pictures. That day, I remember that my mom and my aunts sat all together. We all watched through the old pictures and they remembered many details, recognized people in the pictures, and we laughed so much.
It was such a lovely way to remember those details and get to see my mom’s face while she gazes at the pictures of her own wedding. Pictures must be treasured and that’s how I see them at least.
Every family would store old family pictures somewhere in the house, an attic, or storage room, or the grand bedroom but they will always be saved in a special corner. Taking them out one day is like taking out a box of treasures. You will be blown away by how beautiful every picture is and it takes you back in time even if you didn’t witness some of the scenes in any of the pictures.
I also wrote about the traditions and diverse details of weddings in Libya wedding which differs from the Amazigh wedding in terms of some traditions and even some of the outfits worn are different. In general all weddings are beautiful and this time I am highlighting another wedding which is part of the Libyan social net back in the days before they were sent to exile and this is the Jewish Libyan wedding.
I have previously wrote about the Libyan Jews and their existence in Libya before 1967 when they were sent to exile and never granted the right to come back home. They are scattered between Italy, UK, USA, and Israel.
Maybe even in other parts of the world but what remains is that they are still Libyans and Libya will always be part of their story no matter how many people try to erase or ignore this fact.
Research and blogging have given me the chance to look for answers and reach out to those who might have answers to my endless questions. I managed through writing to find traces of Libyan Jews but one whom I am very glad I got to finally connect with is Mr. Raphael Luzon whom I read his book titled ”Libyan Twilight: The story of an Arab Jew” in 2018 and his book made me know the real story of Libyan Jews and specifically the story of his family.
His book got me really emotional while reading it, I sincerely cried because it moved me to my core and I felt disappointed that we were deprived of an important part of the Libyan social web. Mr. Raphael reached out to me last year to let me know how proud and happy he is when he read the article I published on the traditions Jews practice between the past and present and I was surprised.
I never thought I could personally be in contact with him and hear stories from him. It is one of the things I will always be grateful for which is the ability to write and for getting the chance to discover this side of me. I have reached out to Mr. Raphael for this piece as he has witnessed many weddings and he knows all the details.
He welcomed the idea and was very thrilled when I proposed it. I also read a chapter in a book entitled ”The New Tripoli – 1912” by Eithel Brown and it is translated to Arabic. It has chapters of stories about different parts in Tripoli and other parts in Libya like Yefren and Gheryan. One of the chapters is about the Jewish Wedding. It was really short but very informative, however, I wanted to know more from Mr. Raphael.
Jewish weddings are always done on a Wednesday and a week prior to it, celebrations kick off. But in modern days, they start the wedding night is on a Sunday. Each day, there is a form of celebration. Libyan Jews still celebrate the wedding the same way they did in Libya.
The groom is not allowed to see the bride three days before the wedding night. The first night, it is called girls night ”ليلة البنات”, the bride to be gathers with her close girlfriends and they celebrate the night by singing and playing Darbouka.
The second night which is called Leilat Guffa ”ليلة القفة” and it is when the Groom’s family send gifts, desserts, and clothes to the family of the bride and this night is only for both families to exchange gifts and celebrate it closely. The third night is called Elabbar night ”ليلة العبار” and it is a tradition only done by the Jews when the Groom and his family go to the bride’s house.
Once they arrive with the music, one of the Bride’s family members goes up to the roof top where he stands and throws Elabbar as the groom enters the bride’s house. Elabbar is a traditional water bottle with a Roman design. After the man throws it, it would break which indicates that the bride and the groom are meant to be together even when they tried to use Elabbar to stop the groom from entering.
Then comes Henna night ”ليلة الحنة”, usually it is done a night or two before the wedding day. This is usually done in the Bride’s house or a hall if the family would invite many people but back in the days and still to this day, many Libyan families celebrate Henna night in the Bride’s house.
In this night, the bride must wear the pink badla ”as called Elbodri”. Women must put henna to her hands and her head as well. Also, as part of the tradition, friends of the bride must put a little of the bride’s henna in their hands for good luck. The groom must put two golden liras in the bride’s hands and the bride’s family must give gifts to the groom.
The night before the wedding day, the bride must go with her mother and women of the family to a special pool that is designed to collect rain water in it and it is filtered seven times. The bride must enter this pool completely stripped seven times as an indication of purity and holiness. This place is called the Mikveh and it is constructed to collect rain water and this tradition can be done in the sea as well but it is preferred to be done in the Mikveh.
Mikveh or mikvah (Hebrew: מִקְוֶה / מקווה, Modern:mikve, “a collection”) is a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism to achieve ritual purity. Married Jewish women must go to the Mikveh once a month after they get married. After all the celebrations comes the big night; the wedding night. It is mostly celebrated at synagogue ”الكنيس”.
The bride and the groom must have two witnesses from each side and the groom must give the ring to the bride then the prayers and religious ceremony begins by Rabbi. The prayer is done according to Mousa and Haroon. Number seven is very important in Judaism and it always indicates to blessings. The Rabi recruits seven prayers.
Then the Rabbi pours wine in the wine cup. After he tastes it, he hands it to the groom to drink from it then the bride drinks from it too. Then the groom must cover the cup and put it under his leg to break it as a form of mourning the destruction of temple in Jerusalem.
Finally women will ululate (Zaghareet) and everybody is happy by the marriage. After the wedding is finished. The newly weds would get invited by seven of their friends. Each friend will take a night to invite them over for food and a lovely gathering. Hearing these details from Mr. Luzon brought back many wishes of having a social cohesion within the Libyan community. Having Jews and Muslims living a peaceful life one day back home is a wish I hope it comes true in the future.
The diversity of traditions in weddings in Libya is very beautiful and I hope you got to enjoy and imagine these lovely details and I hope one day, we get to celebrate a Jewish wedding in Libya. Special thanks to Mr. Raphael Luzon for providing these valuable details in order for me to share them with you, dear readers.