Daniel Kligerman

Me, on the web

Orthodox Wedding

Last night we attended a cousin’s orthodox wedding.  Neither of us had ever been to an orthodox wedding before, and although we knew generally what to expect, it was an interesting experience that really contrasted some of the other weddings we’ve been to this summer.

The most significant difference between an orthodox wedding and any other wedding is the division of men and women.  During the ceremony and reception, men and women are seated separately; there is even a divider in the banquet hall (called a ‘mechitzah’ in hebrew) to demarcate the two.  The separation is not strictly adhered to–people tend to wander to the other side to do things like talk to their spouse–but in general the idea is that men should be in the company of only men, and the same for women.  To explain it simply, the main idea is that men should not be tempted by women besides their wife, so traditionally this is the system that has evolved.  It’s more complicated than that, but I am certainly no expert.

At many weddings the focus is a long, multi-course meal, interspersed with speeches and some dancing.  Not so at an orthodox wedding: dancing is king, and the meal is a necessary afterthought, served and scarfed down in a matter of minutes as the band becons a quick return to the dance floor.  The dancing is wonderful to watch: spirited, rhythmic; a whole-hearted and uninhibited expression of joy and celebration.

There is no hurry to an orthodox wedding: the meal wasn’t devoured until almost 10pm.  By midnight, as the sweet table was rolled out, we were exhausted and made our escape.  The band was just getting warmed up.

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