Is Being Invited To An Aufruf Worthy Of A Gift?

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Dear Miriam, 

I was invited to a friend’s aufruf but not to the wedding. Is it customary for me to get the couple a gift? 


Guest with (or without) a Gift


Dear Guest, 

First, let me start with what an aufruf is. On the Shabbat before a wedding, one or both of the people getting married may be honored during morning services. In an egalitarian setting, both members of the couple will likely be on the bimah together to have an aliyah (saying the blessings during the Torah reading). The rabbi will then give the couple a pre-wedding blessing and the congregation will probably throw candy and wish the couple a mazel tov with singing and possibly dancing. 

While services could last two hours or more, the actual aufruf part is likely less than ten minutes. Afterwards, especially if they’ve gone out of their way to include guests in the aufruf, the couple or their families will probably sponsor a kiddush lunch, and people will stay around to talk and wish the couple well. 

If the couple is getting married out of town, or having a small wedding, or having a huge wedding that still can’t accommodate everyone with whom they want to celebrate, they may make a bigger deal out of the aufruf and expand the guest list beyond the wedding guests. In some cases, especially if the wedding itself involves travel, they may also have the aufruf further in advance than the Shabbat immediately prior to the wedding. I’m guessing one of these circumstances is at play here, which is why you’ve been included in this celebration but not the main event. 

You are not expected to give a gift if you are only invited to the aufruf and not the wedding. However, a token of congratulations is always thoughtful and appropriate. Consider a donation to the synagogue where the aufruf is being held, or to some other cause you know matters to the couple. Even just a card would be a kind gesture that shows your appreciation for being included in this way and expresses your hopes for the couple. Nothing beyond that is expected or necessary. 

Though you didn’t ask, I’ll add that you never know what constraints a couple is dealing with when making their guest list, so don’t second guess your friendship or wonder why you didn’t make the cut. Go to the aufruf, throw some candy, and enjoy a low key way to celebrate the couple, and one that comes with no strings attached. 

Be well,