What Is an Aufruf? Originally published May 25-26, 2018

An aufruf is a formal presentation to the congregation of the intended couple very soon to be married. 

The word is Yiddish,  אויפרוף  (often pronounced OYF-roof), and in its verb form it is  אויפרופן.  (We could do a box just on Yiddish pronunciation in various areas of the world!)  We pronounce it here in our congregation to rhyme with “hoof-hoof.”

It means “calling up,” and involves calling the bride and the groom (or just the groom in more historically-minded congregations) to an aliyah – the honor of blessing and witnessing the reading of the Torah during a service.

During the aliyah, the rabbi will say a Mi Shebeirakh over the couple (Mi Shebeirakh is not just a prayer for the ailing), and in some congregations folks will hold a tallit, a prayer shawl, over the happy couple, hinting at the huppah, the wedding canopy, to come.

And in some congregations folks will throw candy at the happy couple, to wish them a sweet life.  Everyone sings “Mazal Tov” (good star) and “Siman Tov” (good omen).  Some congregations even sing and dance once around the shulhan or even around the whole room!  And then it is back to the Torah reading.

Historically, nuts and raisins were tossed at the couple, thought by some to signify wishes for fertility.  Some sources say there is an additional reason for throwing the almonds and raisins. The Hebrew word for nut is egoz. The gematria (numerical value) of those letters is seventeen, which is also the value for chet (sin) and for tov (good). A marriage can be very good or very bad, depending on how married life is conducted. So, too, almonds can be either sweet or very bitter, and wine can be used for purposes of intoxication or for sanctification. Marriage can be lived with drunken abandon or it can be gloriously sanctified.

We are delighted to meet the happy couple this weekend, as we are to meet all happy couples.  May they renew their love every minute of every day, for very many years, and may their path be lit by the wisdom of the ages.