Bar mitzva and engagement in Nabeul

In memory of Mrs. Kuka Uzan Z"L, for the warm welcome and the willingness to share

Name of speaker: 
Kuka Uzan
Gender of speaker: 
Female
Occupation of speaker: 
Housewife
Age of speaker at time of recording: 
71
Speaker's country of origin: 
Speaker's community of origin: 
Language: 
Judeo-Arabic
Conversation topics: 
Documentation: 
Yehudit Henshke
Year of recording: 
1996

Translation: 

A. Tefillin. At night we bring the barber home. The people who have the means, bring the barber home. Then we sing for the tefillin, make four times the amount of ful and burek. We also make dinner for the entire family. Then, the following day we wear tefillin. On the day of the tefillin, we make couscous with asban (food), with vegetables and more. The people who have the resources donate money to the poor. It didn't matter how much you donate – every amount was highly welcomed. I remember.

B. Did he read from the book?

A. Of course. Why shouldn't he read from the book?

B. He?

A. Yes. Yes. The Rabbi reads it beforehand.

B. Oh, he teaches it.

A. Yes, he teaches it, similarly to how he used to do it in the past. Later on, he stays for three days, without school or anything. A groom for three days.

B. Oh.

A. Three days of tefillin.

B. Did he have a groomsman?

A. What?

B. Did he have a groomsman for the tefillin?

A. What is a groomsman? Oh, no.

B. Groomsman, groomsman.

A. What is a groomsman? Meaning […] the Arab

B. In a wedding there is groomsman. A groomsman. A person who accompanies the groom. Don’t you have a groomsman?

A. Yes, of course. We have a groomsman for the wedding, not for the…

B. Not for the tefillin

A. No. no. They worry for the one from the wedding. He is being surrounded for seven days.

B Oh. He walks with him…

A. Because he is a groom, and we worry for him.

B. Who walks with him?

A. Oh […] he never walks by himself – the groom.

B. Aha.

A. The groom or the bride, the "Arusa" (fiancée). She never walks by herself. For seven days, both the groom and bride are always accompanied by other people.

B. But the groom of the bar mitzva isn't?

A. This type of groom sits… and brings his friends. He spends time with them. Yes, he is allowed to have three days of rest.

B. Does the girl get to spend a few days of rest as well?

A. No, the girl doesn't.

B. They go to school and that is it. Do the girls go to school?

A. That is enough with the girls.

B. Now, about the engagement. How do they get engaged?

A. Oh. The engagement? There are people who arrive in order to create a match for the bride. They are arraigning her marriage. The mother in law arrives and introduces them or […] if both of them show interest - they meet. […] If and when they show serious intentions, the mother in law arrives carrying a present.

B. You don't say present. You say -

A. Bring a present. A present. Yes. She offers her a necklace and sweets. During Hanukka she pays her respect, and offers her debla, makroudh and manikut for Hanukka. She also brings her a red handkerchief and something gold.

A. Aha.

B. Yes. During Hanukka. And Yom Kippur. When Yom Kippur ends, the family of the bride gives the groom a present.

A. Ah. Yes.

B. We were in Nabeul, to each his own.

A. All right.

B. Yes.

A. Did they write a ketuba?

B. Oh, ketuba. Some created something similar to that. My divorced sister in law, her father demanded to write in the ketuba that if someone retracts, his friend must pay such and such.

A. What is the name of this ketuba?

B. It is similar to the ketuba of engagement. But we have no part in it. Only the bride does, while the groom orders it.

A. Oh, you don't take part in it?

B. No, we don't. He is from Gafsa, and she was supposed to marry him.

A. Right.

B. This is how they do it in Gafsa.

A. Do what? Sell property?

B. Yes, they sell property to each other. And whomever regrets it, his friend has to pay for him. I don't know how much.

A. Do you also call it property?

B. Yes, we call it property. Later on, when the wedding takes place. I remember, during the night of the ḥenna, before my wedding day, rabbis came to the house and wrote a ketuba. Then, they took it somewhere else, so that they could read it on the night of the blessing.

A. Oh. On the night of the ḥenna they will write the…

B. Yes. I remember this from my personal experience. On the night of the ḥenna.

A. And… the ring

A. The ring is for the wedding night.

B. And what do they write in the ketuba?

A. They say it. They talk about giving money to such and such, as well as houseware. The bride gives money, the dowry, to the groom. She also gives all of the houseware.

B. Really?

A. Of course, the houseware. […] or she would at least give a mattress, her own bed and accessories for the bathtub and the laundry.

B. And what does [the groom] give?

A. He either buys or rents the house. He also buys the furniture. Whatever is needed.

B. Oh

A. And that is it. Later on, he does the everyday shopping. In the beginning, the bride gives the money.

B. She gives everything. And how long do they wait until…

A. Several months. And if God helps, and the young woman is lucky, a groom arrives […] and takes her without any money. This is a gift from God.

B. Hahaha

A. Is it true?