Who Doesn't Love a Wedding?
by Ted Roberts
Why is it that a Jewish wedding always does a number on our heart strings?
Even my Cousin Myra¹s that featured a garage sale chupa and a one-man band
blowing a kazoo, I say it¹s our pessimism. Pharaoh, Haman, Hitler, and
Stalin did it to us. Somewhere deep down in the midnight of our soul we¹re
expecting the Cossacks to break down the door instead of the gentle knock
of the caterer with 300 Chicken Breasts Florentine. And we¹re thinking
that this union - these two young people brought together by who knows
what motive; love, lust, economics - is our last hope at survival. How
silly. On an evolutionary scale, we¹re tougher than the boulders of
Me and my wife, we love a good wedding. She says it takes a bris, a
family reunion, and a 25th wedding anniversary to equal the joy of a
single marriage ceremony. That¹s why, last week, we drove 400 miles to a
wedding on roads that didn't sport a single decent deli. We almost
We lucked out. This wasn¹t simply a marriage ceremony. It was a
seven-day extravaganza, rich with the rewards we out-of-town guests
expect. I mean to say that we out-of-towners demand. And why not.
Didn¹t I spend $20 on gas? Did I not spend six excruciating hours in the
vocal company of three Barry Manilow CDs - my wife¹s favorite tenor?
Find that in our pre-nup! I was promised NO Barry Manilow and lots of
kugel when we stood under the chupa 48 years ago. Real kugel with plenty
of raisins - not Mama Manishevitz frozen noodles. I tried to insert it
into the ketuba. My Rabbi, a straight-arrow traditionalist, refused.
Anyhow at the wedding, I was all set for a suitable gustatorial payoff
(maybe a kugel entree!) for my $20 gas bill, six hours of Barry, and our
wedding gift - which we picked up at a road-side yard sale. Really a
bargain, because contributing to the gift were several family members who
chose not to make the trip. ("Are you kidding - you guys and Barry
Manilow for six hours! Here, take a fiver for a yard sale wedding gift.")
The wedding was not disappointing. The ceremony and symbolism were
overpowering. They did it all, beginning with the signing of the ketuba.
The ketuba, of course, is written in antique Aramaic so that the groom
doesn¹t understand his commitment to his wife, his in-laws, and her Uncle
Louis, who hasn¹t worked steady since he was fired as a flagman for the
State Highway Department.
They did the badeken, too. The veiling of the bride. Necessary, says
tradition, so that the groom is not overwhelmed by the beauty of the
bride. He shouldn¹t miss the goodness of her soul. With this bride, the
veil should have been of lead; such was her radiance. And for good
measure they should have blindfolded the groom.
There was frenzied dancing by the hungry guests who were magically
transported to Jerusalem, Minsk and the lower East side by an incredible
band from New York.
After dinner the bride and groom were chaired around the room clinging to
each other with a white handkerchief. Not touching - just clutching the
end of the hanky. This is a source of much debate among scholars of
Judaica. One school holds that it symbolizes the physical separation that
must prevail before marriage. Others, notably the Alte Rebbe Chaleria in
Hotlox, Alabama, says that it signifies the last clean handkerchief, sock,
and shirt the young groom will see until he visits his mama on weekends.
Me and Mrs. Manilow stayed two days after the wedding so as not to miss a
single free meal. And why did she blush when I asked the hostess at the
last feed if I could have a couple of corned beefs on rye for the road?
What a mitzvah opportunity for the hostess! And can you name one decent
deli on I-24 between St. Louis and Huntsville.
from the October 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine