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Kiddushin before Kiddush

Rachel Shapiro

To both ease the financial burden and work around already-booked halls and unavailable dates, some Israeli families have resuscitated the centuries-old custom of Friday weddings. Not everyone is willing to be a trendsetter, but in the Jewish State, where Friday is the one day off, baalei simchah who have tried it say they’re happy to be trailblazers.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

friday weddings“A little over 27 years ago, my son got married on a Friday morning, and two years ago I was fortunate to be at my grandson’s wedding, which was also on Friday,” relates Mrs. Avigail Ravitz, the widow of MK Rabbi Avraham Ravitz z”l, recalling her family’s trailblazing wedding dates. Although in the European shtetl and even in the old yishuv of Eretz Yisrael, Friday morning weddings were standard, at the time the Ravitzes’ first Friday wedding seemed bizarre. Yet as the years passed, an increasing number of families have chosen to schedule their children’s weddings specifically on Fridays, having the chuppah by the morning light followed by a seudah or buffet and dancing; or in some cases, having the seudah as the Friday night meal.

The idea for the Ravitzes’ not-yet-fashionable date actually came from Rabbi Avraham Ravitz himself. “When our son Shimshon became engaged, my husband told me that he was tired of the standard quarter of a chicken with rice and potatoes,” Mrs. Ravitz recalls. At the time Rabbi Ravitz — who would become an MK two years later — was a contractor, kiruv expert, one of the heads of Ohr Somayach’s Israeli program, and a social activist who was never blindsided by glitz and glitter. “Besides that, he felt that it was a lamentable waste of money; the amount we would save could be used to buy important things for the new couple. When we broached the idea of a Friday wedding with our new mechutanim, they were surprisingly quite excited. The wedding took place in Ohr Somayach. It was pouring rain, but that didn’t dampen the joy. After the chuppah, everyone danced in the reception hall and enjoyed a spread of cakes and fruits. The wedding ended at about two and everyone went home. Then our whole family and the kallah’s family got together again for a Shabbos seudah that also served as the seudas mitzvah of the wedding. We had planned for the kallah to be wearing her wedding gown, but the dress was filthy from the mud and rain and she had to change. She didn’t seem to mind — she was so busy greeting friends who came at the end of the meal for dancing and the first sheva brachos — it was like a continuation of the wedding.”

Mrs. Ravitz liked the arrangement so much that she wanted to duplicate it for the weddings of her other children, yet none of her ten subsequent mechutanim agreed to even consider the idea. But as the years went by and their son celebrated his own son’s engagement, he’d also been at enough weddings to know he wanted something different.

“The mechutanim were actually intrigued by the idea of a Friday wedding,” Mrs. Ravitz relates of her grandson’s simchah. “My son contacted the Armonot Wolf hall and asked if they could arrange a wedding in the morning. The owners of the hall were surprised, and apprised him of his good fortune: They had just been in touch with a philanthropist who had decided to sponsor 16 weddings in the hall on condition that they would be held on a Friday morning, since he was interested in promoting the old-time practice.

“My son was astonished, since he had never planned on receiving the wedding for free, but of course, he was happy about it. They also told him that this same philanthropist had promised to sponsor all the meals for Shabbos sheva brachos for 40 guests.”


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