How to be a Jewish Shomer (Best Man)
What is a Shomer?
In Hebrew the word 'shomer" means a guard or watchman. In the context
of a Jewish wedding, it refers to the groom's best man. The Shomer's
main task is to make sure the Groom (Chatan) gets to his wedding as
worry-free as possible.
The counterpart of the Shomer is the 'Shomeret', the Jewish best woman.
Her job is similar to the Shomer's: to help the Bride (Kallah) get to
her wedding free of worry and stress. Many items in the list below
apply equally to a Shomer and a Shomeret. There are, however, issues
specific to the Kallah that are not mentioned here. I would be happy to
hear from Shom'rot (plural for Shomeret), and would be glad to create
another Web page for the Jewish Shomeret.
Glossary of Terms
This document contains many Hebrew and Yiddish terms that may need
explanation. There is a glossary
of terms that will clarify these terms (click here).
a written list of everything and anything related to the wedding.
Update it whenever you think of anything relevant to the wedding. Refer
to it constantly. There will be MANY details, both big and small. You
don't want to forget anything.
- Part of your
job is to be with the Chatan at all times starting the night before the
wedding. Accompany him everywhere he goes (yes, he may go to the Men's
Room alone :-)
- You may want to take the
Chatan and a close friend or sibling out to a nice restaurant the
evening before the wedding. It is a way of making a close friend feel
closer, and it gives the Chatan a welcome and sane opportunity to relax.
the Shomer's prime goal is to remove any worry from the Chatan. The
Chatan should not be preoccupied with anything but getting married.
Your job is to handle money issues, family, friends -- everything!
Whenever possible, make the decisions on your own.
in close contact with Kallah's Shomeret throughout. This will enable
coordination (e.g., that the Chatan and Kallah shouldn't accidentally
meet each other). If you both have a (quiet!) cell phone, that's
- Do you need to get anything from 'gmachim': e.g., candle holders for the Chupah?
- Make sure you know the complete timetable: what time to bring the Chatan to the hall, pre-Chupah photo sessions, etc.
- Make it your business to know who all family members are.
The evening before the wedding
- Make sure the Chatan goes to sleep early the night before. NO LATE NIGHT OR STAG PARTY!!!
the Chatan will be handling the financial payments on his own (i.e.,
not his parents), sit down with the Chatan, get a list of which
professionals need to be paid (e.g., the hall, the caterer,
photographer, the band) and how much. Get the money / checks / credit
card from the Chatan. Remember, he must not deal with any of this at
the wedding -- a sure source of aggravation!
On the day of the wedding
the Chatan's suit is at the cleaners or tailor, make sure you get it back in time.
very special and loving suggestion is for the Chatan to write a
personal letter to the Kallah. Make sure he has the time (e.g., an
hour) and the privacy to compose the letter. When written, deliver it
to the Kallah.
- Another suggestion is for the
Chatan to send flowers to the Kallah on the wedding day. As usual, you
should handle the arrangements (i.e., ordering, having the Chatan
dictate a note to the floral service for inclusion, etc.)
- Accompany the Chatan to the Mikvah. Ascertain the hours beforehand. Plan it so he goes before
Mincha (see next bullet).
- The Chatan needs to daven Mincha with vidui. Assuming he's already been to the
(see previous bullet), plan on his needing much more time than the rest
of the Tzibbur (congregation). A very nice spiritual touch, if you're
fortunate to be in Yerushalayim/Jerusalem, is to take him to the Kotel
(the Western Wall) for Mincha. Take a taxi both ways; a bus will take too long and may tire him out.
- Make sure the Chatan rests in the afternoon on the day of the wedding!
Take him somewhere quiet where no one can interrupt -- no phones, no
visits, etc. People will want the phone number of where you are, or
they'll want to visit the Chatan. Be tactful but firm: NO! Be sure to
turn the phones off to avoid waking him. Make sure your own cell
phone, and the Chatan's, is in silent mode.
- Be sure you have the following information well in advance of the wedding:
is the Mesader Kiddushin (the officiating Rabbi)? How will he get to
the hall and back home? Should you arrange a taxi to pick him up and
take him back? If so, at what time? Will he be paid, and how much?
- Who will call out the names of the 'kibuddim' under the Chupah? Make
sure he has the final list of names before the Chupah begins.
- Witnesses ('Eidim')
- Who will be the 'eidei Kiddushin' (the ones who sign the "K'tuba")?
- Who will be the 'eidei yichud" (the ones who witness the Chatan and Kallah as they enter a private room together)?
- To maximize the 'kibuddim' (the honors given to guests and friends) the two sets of eidim can be different people.
- Who will read the K'tuba under the Chupah?
will get which Sheva Brachot under the Chupah? Speak to the Chatan,
Kallah, and their families about this. Remember that it is customary to
give the first two (2) brachot to the same person.
will get Sheva Brachot after the wedding meal? Get the Chatan, Kallah,
and both families' preferences here. It is a good opportunity to give a
'kibud' (honor) to someone who may have come from afar, etc.
- Make sure you have the necessary items before taking the Chatan to the wedding hall
- Kittel (a white shroud, if the Chatan intends to wear one) and/or a
Tallis (a Jewish prayer shawl)
taking cards with the Sheva Brachot printed in large format. Each
person who makes a bracha under the Chupah gets the bracha he needs to
say. You can use these for the Sheva Brachot after the meal, too.
is a minhag (custom) for the Chatan not to wear jewelry under the
Chupah. You may want to take the Chatan's watch until after the Chupah.
- At the hall, make sure you have the following items
- Wine for under the Chupah
- Ashes (for placing on the Chatan's forehead)
- A cup for breaking under the Chupah (this act serves as an expression of sadness over the destruction of the Temple in
- Either drive the Chatan yourself to the hall, or take a taxi.
After the wedding
Chatan and Kallah should not deal with any financial payments after the
wedding. If the couple's parents are handling these issues, fine. If
not, you should handle it for them. If you are handling it, you should
have gotten the necessary money from the Chatan / Kallah beforehand. If
you need more money, solve the problem on your own. Don't drag the newlywed couple into it!
transportation for the couple after the wedding. Ask the Chatan if he
would like you to accompany him and his wife to their hotel or new home
to handle the check-in procedure, payments, etc.
- Determine where the wedding gifts should be transported to.
This probably seems like a lot of work (and it is!). The position of
Shomer carries with it a great responsibility: making sure the Chatan
and Kallah, king and queen for the week, experience a worry-free
wedding. This, in all probability, will be the greatest gift you can
Rechov Shaulson 59/6
Har Nof, Jerusalem 95400
I'd like to thank Reuven Engelberg (of Har Nof, Jerusalem) for
introducing me to the art of being a Jewish Shomer, and for teaching me
how to carry out this important 'mitzvah'.
© Moshe Rubin 2006-2009. All rights reserved.
Last updated: 8 February 2009