On Sunday afternoon, as we were trying to absorb the new guidelines issued in the wake of the spread of Covid-19, I got a call from my daughter.
“Mum do you still have that chuppah gemach with the candle holders and stuff.”
“Yes why. Do you have a friend who needs it?”
“No – we need it – we’re having a chasunah here in our house tomorrow.”
“Huh – did one of your boys get engaged and you forgot to tell me?”
“No. I don’t know who the couple is, but they need somewhere to have their wedding.”
My son-in-law Menachem manages several simcha halls and Shmuel, who works for him, asked if he could borrow one or two items, as the hall couldn’t be used at the moment. Menachem asked why and when he discovered that Shmuel was hosting his cousin’s wedding the following day in their very small apartment he offered his own instead.
Special times call for unusual measures. The rabbanim had said that no wedding should be cancelled or postponed. Simcha halls were not being used as public gatherings of more than 10 people were no longer allowed.
All through the night, on Motzei Shabbos, while gatherings of up to 100 people were still allowed, weddings had taken place. In fact, there were more weddings that night than on any Lag B’Omer.
Now an alternative option had to be thought of and all over the country makeshift venues for weddings were conjured up. A park in Ashdod, the outdoor yard of a yeshiva in Jerusalem, the garden of an apartment block in Petach Tikvah. The advantage of all these places was the open-air and the space, which enabled guests to stand apart from each other. Also many people who lived in apartments overlooking these venues offered their porches to visitors who wanted to join in the celebrations.
Our children have a larger than average living room and a very large porch and they conscripted their kind neighbors to join them which meant they had four areas to have the guests spread out – two porches and two living rooms. And one of the homes could be used as an ezras nashim.
At 8:30pm that evening Shmuel and his wife came to see their apartment. They were thrilled. It was more than perfect.
At 1:30am they called a caterer and ordered the food. Usually most caterers don’t consider providing food for less than 200 people, but everyone has been revise their old norms.
Menachem converted their boys’ bedroom into a cheder yichud, and he and Sarah set about cleaning and clearing their home and their neighbor’s of most of the furniture. The porches were also cleared and washed down and Menachem called in some friends to help set up a chuppah and decorate the porch pillars.
Menachem called a prestigious floral designer, he had occasionally used, who unfortunately was not so busy and asked if she was prepared to volunteer her services to help decorate their porch and chuppah. She was more than happy to be involved in the mitzvah and soon their Jerusalem mirpeset was transformed into a beautiful simcha venue.
I would have loved to have seen it and to have helped, however, as part of the senior age group and having had health challenges over the last year I knew I had to keep away.
All family members of the young couple who were in the country (one side was from chutz le’aretz) were there including children. Very few other guests were present for the chuppah because of the need to limit the number of participants.
The beautiful Kallah’s chair, borrowed from a simcha hall, was set up in the neighbor’s living room and after an emotional bedecking, the women went out onto the neighbor’s porch to watch the chuppah which was just a few meters away.
After the chuppah all the young children were taken out and other guests arrived for the small seudah with more guests swapped places after the seudah so some young friends of the chosson and kallah could join in the dancing.
Yes, the wedding took place in usual circumstances, but the unit of Klal Yisrael will always be a part of their lives.