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Here come the brides

Chuppah, ketubbah and mazel tov: Elon's Jewish wedding

by Ashley Barnas,
  • Brides Eva Yaffe and Traci Weisberg smash their glasses at the end of the mock wedding ceremony, symbolizing their long-lasting love for each other. Photo by Ashley Barnas.

  • Hillel hosted a mock wedding to share Jewish culture. Hillel board members Eva Yaffe and Traci Weisberg were wed on Sunday. Photo by Ashley Barnas.

 Glasses are smashed. Chairs seating the wedding couple are raised in the air as the attendees circle around them singing. Bread is passed around and food is in abundance. The best parts of the Jewish wedding ceremony are not the most meaningful to the Elon students who participated in Sunday's mock ceremony. It's all about the exchange of rings and the pronouncement that follows: "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."

"The aspect of the whole ring, the ring that's not broken really strikes me because it's the whole idea of the never-ending circle," sophomore Michelle Wrightman said. "It's a consistent cycle between life and love. That, I love. I love the dancing, I love the food. For me, there's so many traditions and rituals throughout the thing, that it's so special. It doesn't age."

Wrightman played the role of the rabbi in Elon Hillel's ceremony. The Jewish group hosted a mock wedding to share the Jewish culture with others. In years past, Hillel has sponsored a mock bar mitzvah to accomplish the same goal.

"The best way to learn is to do," Nancy Luberoff, Hillel campus director, said. "This is a center of experiential learning and most of the students here haven't experienced a traditional Jewish wedding except what they've seen on TV, so it's a way to learn about what the Jewish traditions are in a fun way."

The contemporary Jewish wedding had a twist: two brides and no groom. Freshman Eva Yaffe and junior Traci Weisberg were coupled for the ceremony by default.

"Eva and I are both on the (Hillel) board," Weisberg said. "She had already wanted to do it and there were no guys that were available for tonight, and I kind of got nominated to be the other bride."

The processional began with the two officiants, followed by each bride accompanied by her mock parents, and then a handful of flower girls.

Sophomore and Hillel President Allie Solender represented Yaffe's mother. Unlike many of her fellow Hillel members, she has been to one Jewish wedding. She said her favorite parts were the dancing, music and food.

The brides stand under the chuppah, a wedding canopy as simple as a cloth or elaborate like the one used in the mock wedding: four large branches supporting a colorful woven canopy. Four close friends or relatives support the corners of the chuppah.

"The two things that seal the marriage in the eyes of Jewish law, which is now state law, is the placing of the ring on your beloved's finger and the signing of the wedding contract," Luberoff said.

The contract, or ketubbah, is read by the officiant and signed by the couple. After, the marriage is affirmed, vows are conveyed, the wine is blessed and the rings are exchanged. The ring is placed on the pointer finger and it traditionally has no holes or stones in it. Seven blessings are recited by members of the audience before one of Weisberg's favorite parts — the breaking of the glasses.

When the time came, Weisberg daintily lifted her glittering pale blue gown to crush the glass with her black heel. Both brides were hesitant, but once Yaffe heard her glass successfully crack, Weisberg gave her own another fierce stomp — the cue for the audience to shout "mazel tov!" The breaking of the glass is significant of the couple's love for one another and how it should last for as long as it takes to make the glass whole again.

The brides leave the room and have a few minutes together, a custom called Yichud, used to reflect on the moment they just shared. When they re-enter to greet guests, the party begins.
Challah, a sweet circular bread, sometimes with poppy seeds or sesame seeds, is blessed and passed around after the ceremony for everyone to eat a piece.

Yaffe and Weisberg sat in the middle of a circle on two chairs. They nervously waited to be lifted up, but once they were mid-air the laughter began. While in the air, they had to hold a handkerchief together and not let go as the wedding guests danced and sang around them.

Hillel's mock wedding was tailored to suit the needs of the two brides, but the theme of the wedding being a marriage between two families, remained. The wedding  doesn't center on God or faith. It is more about how the participants live their lives.

"It's less about the religion and more about the togetherness," Weisberg said.

Members of the mock wedding said they hoped the audience would learn more about the culture and traditions of the Jewish wedding by attending their ceremony.

"And just see how much fun Jewish people actually have," Yaffe said.