Badhan

Hebrew lit. entertainer. A merrymaker, rhymester, and musician who entertains primarily at weddings. Professional Jewish singers called badhanim or leizanim ("jesters") are mentioned in medieval rabbinical literature (e.g. R. Elijah b. Isaac of Carcassonne's Asufot) as entertainers at weddings, and at Hanukkah and Purim celebrations. In Eastern European Jewish communities, the badhan worked as a professional wedding entertainer.

In response to rabbinic prohibition against excessive merrymaking, the badhanim introduced a new style of entertainment – the forshpil – in which the badhan addressed the bride with rhymed lyrical praise while the women performed the ceremony of bedeken (covering the bride with the veil before proceeding to the huppah, the ceremonial canopy).