Jewish Weddings


Jewish Weddings


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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 Myraıs that featured a garage sale chupa and a one-man band blowing a kazoo, I say itıs our pessimism. Pharaoh, Haman, Hitler, and Stalin did it to us. Somewhere deep down in the midnight of our soul weıre expecting the Cossacks to break down the door instead of the gentle knock of the caterer with 300 Chicken Breasts Florentine. And weıre 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, weıre tougher than the boulders of Sinai.

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. Thatıs why, last week, we drove 400 miles to a wedding on roads that didn't sport a single decent deli. We almost perished.

We lucked out. This wasnıt 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. Didnıt I spend $20 on gas? Did I not spend six excruciating hours in the vocal company of three Barry Manilow CDs - my wifeıs 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 doesnıt understand his commitment to his wife, his in-laws, and her Uncle Louis, who hasnıt 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 shouldnıt 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. Who knows?

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

The perfect diamond wedding ring will complete the perfect wedding.

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