How to Exchange Rings in a Jewish Wedding Ceremony
Much like in Christian weddings, Jews exchange rings during the wedding ceremony. Everywhere Jews lived; they picked up cultural customs and wove them into the fabric of their lives. Nowhere is this more evident than in weddings. For example, a traditional Jewish wedding has no vows, such as to have and to hold . . . for better or for worse . . . and so on.
Rather, historically, the groom simply gave the bride some token of marriage (usually a ring), and repeated the following statement:
Ha-rei aht mekudeshet li, be-tahba’at zoh, k’dat Mosheh v’Yisrael.
With this ring, you are consecrated to me, [as my wife,] according to the tradition of Moses and Israel.
Today, however, many Jews include vows, promises, and a host of other statements along with the ring-giving ceremony. In more liberal Jewish weddings, the bride also gives the groom a ring, along with a statement of consecration.
The ring itself has changed over time, too. Traditional Jews stick with the custom that a wedding ring should be a simple, smooth round band, without stones or carving, perhaps as a reminder that all Jews are equal, no matter their wealth or status.
The ring also symbolizes a smooth and happy wedded life, and, of course, the circle is a symbol of perfection and the unbroken circle of the relationship. However, the hands of Jews today display a wide variety of ring styles.