Friday, August 19, 2016


Because so many of you are anxiously awaiting the report on the wedding, I will begin with that and return next blog to other events!

We finally met the bride Racheli when she arrived for photos at the wedding hall. Because the couple do not see each other for a week before the wedding, we first had Friedman family photos. Then Alexander left and Racheli and family arrived. I must say, her extremely large family which includes aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents and 11 siblings, two married with spouses, are the nicest people I consider myself privileged to have ever met. And this is with a language barrier!

Racheli is lovely. She looks very much like her mother who has a body to kill for after giving birth to 12 kids, the youngest only four! Alexander is tall and slender like the males in the brides family of seven brothers (and five sisters) and fits right in. Older sister and brother are married.

I did not recall this from Rivi and Ashira but the brides wear shetals or wigs to the ceremony. That is because once they say their vows under the chuppah their heads must be covered and they certainly cannot put on a wig in front of everyone!

Once again, I embarrassed my son and male grandchildren (but only my son kicked me out twice) by going on the men's side and taking photos. I dutifully wore a hat (much as I dislike hats on me) and was dressed appropriately but this new family is more religious than prior ones. Alexander told me he figured I had a 90% chance of being asked to leave but...who would ask a camera toting great grandmother to leave?! The son of a friend translated my thank you to the bride's father for allowing me to take photos of the men. Such kindness I am not sure I deserved!
Friend Guy, cousin Nadav, Zalman, Zach in rear

Always the goof off!
The bride was seated on a white sofa to receive her female guests.  Then the groom is led into the women's side by his father and father-in-law-to-be and certain rabbis to do the bedecking ceremony. The groom puts a veil over the bride after checking to make sure he is marrying the right girl. This dates back to biblical times "when Jacob's father-in-law Laben put his daughter Leah in place of Jacob's chosen bride, Rachel. When the groom personally veils the bride, it's a kind of insurance policy against bridal surprises."

The groom and his entourage proceed to the chuppah or marriage canopy and the bride's mother and mother-in-law-to -be along with the wives of special rabbi's follow. Weather permitting the chuppah is outside. All the men dressed in black suits and large hats crowd up to the front while the women are behind and on the side. Pas moi! I crowded right up there with them but being my size, was unable to get good shots. Thus Moses had to be the main chronicler of the ceremony.

The bride circles the groom  seven times. "There are several interpretations of the significance of this number: seven is the number of days of creation, and the wedding ceremony is the creation of a new household; seven is the number of times the phrase “when a man takes a wife” occurs in the Bible; seven is the number of times Joshua circled the walls of Jericho in order to bring them down, and in circling her groom a bride brings down any wall that may remain between them. "

The ceremony itself is rather difficult to follow. Many important rabbis are called to the chuppah to recite certain prescribed prayers, a paper is signed, the wine cup is passed around but I do not recall there was the breaking of the glass.  Someone passed the ring to the groom to give to the bride. Then all the men crowded around singing and that was the end of my view!

"The couple is then escorted to a private "yichud room" and left alone for a few minutes. These moments of seclusion signify their new status of living together as husband and wife. Since the
couple has been fasting since the morning, at this point they will also have something to eat." The bride and groom return to their respective sides and are greeted with singing, dancing and much joy!

The ceremony was followed by a dinner with the men and women seated separately. This couple, as with Zalman and Rivi and Zach and Ashira, will be leading a lifestyle more stringent than the Marc Friedman and Sarah Batya Friedman family. They will go to fewer restaurants if at all, and will obey all the laws of Judaism.

Some of the things that went on in this ceremony were different. The bride's family are all Jerusalemites dating back generations. Most of them, if not all, live in the Rova, or Old City. There are well over 100 family members and where one goes, they all go. It is quite incredible. The bride's mother is one of 18 children, 17 living. One sister was killed along with her three children in a bus bombing many years ago. The bride's father is one of eight. Many of the men are rabbis and own and work at the Silberman Yeshiva. They have known all three Friedman boys since they started school there. Two down, one to go!

Dancing and singing to live music went on for several hours. It is difficult to describe the joy that abounds when one of the yeshiva guys (all the yeshivot not just this one) gets married. Only through being present or watching a video would one be able to understand. And that joy abounds on the women's side as well.
Herbie and Alexander

Zalman, Alexander, Shalom Simcha
Racheli with very pregnant Ashira
 As he has done in the prior weddings, Herbie totally got into dancing with the men. Did his usual kezatska (I cannot locate a proper spelling) but it's the Russian dance where one squats and kicks his legs out in front. Moses was able to get closer and take pics with his incredible Samsung high end phone/camera. (Pictures with me in them plus several others were taken by him and emailed to me.)
Herbie entertaining the groom, his brothers and father
Orthodox couples do not take honeymoons. They spend the week following the ceremony with their families and friends at Sheva Brachot, meals that bring the community into their lives and them into the community. And during the first year neither can travel alone but must take the other along. The wedding meal counts as the first Sheva Bracha. Marc hosted some friends and family at his home the next night and the bride's parents hosted Friday night dinner and Saturday lunch and third meal at the Aish HaTorah building Marc arranged. The bride's grandparents will host the next two nights and Batya the last night on Tuesday.

The professional photographer (and therefore Moses and I) took photos of the married couple with their families as well as those before the ceremony.

There are six Friedman ladies and five Friedman men!

PS: In case you are wondering, all female bridal attire is rented for a very reasonable sum. It is altered and depending on the amount of alterations, the extra fabric remains inside. I recall it can be rented to three different bridal parties before being retired. Ashira's had to be made as the one maternity dress was already rented.

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