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Made in Heaven

Gittel Chany Rosengarten

A wedding in the rebbe’s court isn’t just about sending out invitations and booking a p hotographer. It’s a joyous affirmation of the continuity of the court, a veritable Yom Tov for the chassidim who attend in their Shabbos best — chronicled in the memoirs of the chassidus for years to come. With Shavuos heralding the start of the summer wedding season, a look behind the scenes at the dedicated chassidim involved in orchestrating an affair on par with any major stadium event.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Some upper-tier rebbishe shidduchim are unofficially arranged when both chassan and kallah are still in the cradle. But many require the services of a shadchan. And while anyone can suggest a shidduch to a rebbe’s family, the successful rebbishe shadchan needs a good knowledge of the fine nuances in dynasties and courts, since most rebbes marry off their children and grandchildren to children of other chassidic courts. Some shadchanim have established their niche in this rarefied milieu, but regular folks brave enough to take the initiative can also try their hand. “It’s not for the fainthearted,” says one professional shadchan who arranged several of his rebbe’s shidduchim. He contrasts his position with that of a shadchan outside of the chassidus. “For someone else, it’s just another shidduch within a specific niche. For me, it meant working for my rebbe. I had to be a neutral outsider on one hand, but I wanted what was best for my rebbe on the other hand. The diplomacy I use with balabatish shidduchim is small talk compared to the delicacy I needed here.” If a rebbe’s grandchild is of shidduch age, a wedding date may be scheduled before the formal engagement is made. Rarely does this date need to be canceled in the absence of an actual shidduch, and scheduling the wedding ensures that gabbaim and askanim can plan and strategize in advance. In fact, the upcoming wedding date for the Belzer Rebbe’s second grandchild was set by the Rebbe before the shidduch was announced. It’s the same date, 12 Sivan, as last year’s wedding of his oldest grandchild. In Belz, the Rebbe prefers to be meshadech his grandchildren within the ranks of his chassidim. When the time came for the oldest grandchild to consider marriage, the Rebbe’s son, Rav Aharon Mordechai, together with his rebbetzin, compiled a list of candidates from the Belz Beis Malka seminary whom they deemed suitable, and presented the list to the Rebbe. Rabbi Moskowitz, from the Rebbe’s inner circle, was dispatched to suggest the shidduch. With that, Belz chassidim began planning the grandiose wedding.

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