February 13, 2003
"Jewish Weddings" author turns observance into books and a business.
Rita Milos Brownstein, author "Jewish Weddings" (Simon & Schuster, 2002) said she wishes she had known about yichud before she was married.
Brownstein, 50, cited yichud -- the time after the ceremony that affords the bride and groom some privacy to share their first moments as a married couple -- as one of the traditions she learned about while researching her book that she would have enjoyed at her own wedding some 20 years ago.
"Nobody told me about it," she said.
"There are so many beautiful wedding customs and traditions that many people don't know about. I wanted to introduce them so people would incorporate them in their own weddings."
"Jewish Weddings," Brownstein's second book, combines the visual appeal of a coffee-table book with helpful hints and important information about Jewish wedding traditions as well as practical tips for choosing shower themes, invitations, favors and more.
For example, she explains Jewish concepts including aufruf (when the groom is called to the Torah for an aliyah, representing his commitment to Torah as a married man); ketubot (marriage contracts); and sheva brachot (seven nights of parties thrown for the couple following the wedding).
One section of the book contains "How We Met" vignettes, in which Brownstein even shares her beshert story -- the moment she knew she had met her intended.
Another section details real-life weddings, complete with photographs.
A graphic designer by day for the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford (and previously for such publications as House Beautiful and Good Housekeeping), Brownstein spent about a year writing the book in her free time.
Understandably conscientious about design, Brownstein designed the entire book and had copy writer Donna Wolf Koplowitz polish the words.
The author lives in Simsbury, Conn., with her husband, Michael, daughter Ariel, 17, and son, Ben, 14. Judaism plays a "pretty major role" in their lives, Brownstein said, explaining that it helps her make daily choices about business dealings, what to eat and how to treat others.
She started learning more about her religion 10 years ago.
"The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn," she said.
Her Jewish learning led her to write her first book, "Jewish Holiday Style" (Simon & Schuster, 1999), for which she combined her background in magazine publishing and her new observance.
Now Brownstein has found a new way to express her love of Judaism: She is starting a line of menorahs, kiddush cups and other items to be sold in Judaica stores. Â