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I recently received an invitation to a friends wedding and I noticed that it said he would be "Called to the Torah" with a date and time approximately 1 week before the wedding.

I am not Jewish, so could someone please explain to me what the purpose is of this pre-wedding event and who is expected to attend?

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Update: I did end up attending this event and learnt plenty in the process. It still didn't register that this would be part of the regular Shabbat service, so was interesting from that point of view also. Very culturally enriching and a blessing. –  xiaohouzi79 Dec 11 '11 at 2:16
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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

This is not an adult Bar-Mitzvah; rather it is an Orthodox tradition that a chosson, groom, gets an aliyah a week before his wedding. Usually he does not read from the Torah, but many Sefardim do. Usually only the members of the congregation attend and sometimes the groom's close friends come as well.

This is generally called an "aufruf" -- yiddish for call-up -- because they call him up to the Torah. It is done in middle of the Shabbat prayers between Shacharit (the morning service) and Mussaf (the additional service), usually at the end of the Torah reading, unless the groom is a Kohen or Levi. The time on the invitation is usually the time of the beginning of prayers but it is possible that they gave an estimate of the "call-up".

No need to attend if you are attending the wedding, but it is definitely a very nice gesture, and the groom will surely appreciate it. It is customary to throw candy on the groom at the conclusion of his "call-up". Some also sing and everyone wishes the groom "Mazel Tov".

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+1, though it can definitely use dejargonification and contextualization for the uninitiated. Two specific issues, though: (1) Re "usually at the end of the Torah reading, unless the groom is a Kohen or Levi": In my experience, it's usually at the end anyway. (2) Re "an aliyah a week before his wedding": In my experience, it's usually the Saturday before, not a full week before. –  msh210 Nov 4 '11 at 17:02
    
Agree with @msh210, also this "custom" of throwing candy is frowned upon in many places, and actually is improper. –  AviD Nov 6 '11 at 6:58
    
@msh2010 there are certain communities where they do not call up kohanim and leviim to other aliyos even though maftir is not an issue halachically. You're right about the dejargonification - love the word. And I apologize for "the week before" - I meant what you said. I used the evaluation of the user's question - "about a week before." –  zukebutt May 1 '12 at 21:18
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@AviD How do you know that it is improper? What are your sources. Also, I never said if it was proper or not. I was just telling the user posting the question that it is not irregular. –  zukebutt May 1 '12 at 21:18
    
Fair enough, I was not rebuking you for mentioning it :). As for whether throwing candy is proper or not, there are several halachic reasons (and non-halachic), but that's really it's own question, isnt it... –  AviD May 1 '12 at 22:57
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This is called an Aufruf, see wikipedia for more.

If you're comfortable attending a service, congratulating him, and likely throwing candies, by all means feel free to go. If not, don't worry about it. It's less important than the wedding.

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Note that the actual Aufruf is a brief part of a long (typically on the order of 2-3 hours) service, most of which is unintelligible to people who aren't familiar with it and/or Hebrew. –  Isaac Moses Nov 4 '11 at 15:44
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