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The Simchah Must Go On

Azriela Jaffe

Chassan and kallah are all decked out in their finery, the hall is clean, set up, and ready for a lively wedding — but outside, snow is swirling around, rendering travel nearly impossible. As the East Coast of the United States experiences one of its worst winters ever, what’s happening with all those weddings scheduled months ago? A peek at some simchahs that had to contend with nature as one of the mechutanim.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Psachya Septimus lost his chance for five-minutes of fame. As a busy freelance musician, he’s managed to work during just about every blizzard that has hit during the last twenty-five years. He tracks weather reports carefully, and he knows the drill: A simchah isn’t a simchah without music. He just has to be there.

To that end, Psachya has flown out of an airport days early and has stayed long after simchahs — sometimes for days on end — when there was no way to travel home. He’s a “no matter what” guy — he’ll be there, no matter what, unless it’s physically impossible for him to do so. But there was one time that it was.

In 2002, amid one of the storms of the century, there was just no way for him to leave his house in Highland Park, NJ, to make it to a simchah in Brooklyn. Travel was impossible. Ever reliable, he spent three hours on the phone finding a keyboard player from Brooklyn to substitute for him. And that was the time that the local news stations grew tired of reporting yet again about how much snow there was and what a mess it was to travel. They needed some fresh reporting, and they found it. The only people crazy enough (in the newscaster’s words) to hold a wedding in the middle of a blizzard is the Jews. He found a Jewish wedding in progress, and Psachya’s replacement was broadcast live playing at the wedding.

Meshugah, or just incredibly dedicated? In our community, there is little, if anything, that will stop a simchah from taking place as planned — come impassable roads or high snow, the show will go on. This winter has generated some of the most memorable snow simchahs, prompting us to set out to collect some of such stories.


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