I’ve been invited to an aufruf for a friend's wedding. What is that?

Answered by
Rabbi Daniel B. Syme

Aufruf (pronounced "owf-roof," or more colloquially "oof-roof ") is a German word meaning "calling up" and refers to a synagogue celebration on the Shabbat preceding a wedding. The custom is biblically based. According to the Talmud, King Solomon built a gate in the Jerusalem Temple where Jews would sit on Shabbat and honor new grooms.

In a traditional setting, the groom is called to the Torah for an aliyah (the honor of reciting the blessings before and after the reading of a section of the Torah) on the Shabbat morning prior to the wedding. After he completes the concluding blessing, the congregation sometimes showers him with candy, indicative of their good wishes for a sweet and fulfilling marriage. In an egalitarian setting like that found in a Reform synagogue, both partners in a couple will be called up. Often, in Reform synagogues, aufrufs take place during Friday night services, at which the rabbi will bless the couple.