Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mazel tov! Hasidic Jewish wedding is a first for Rochester 

What was believed to be Rochester's first Hasidic Jewish wedding Monday brought centuries-old religious traditions to Peace Plaza, where Doba Greene of Rochester and Yossi Schlass of Jerusalem were married.

Guests were given a booklet, described as "our playbill of sorts," to help explain the customs, and anyone who happened to pass by was welcome to stay and watch.

"A Jewish wedding in Rochester is rare, but an orthodox, traditional, Hasidic wedding hasn't been done," said the father of the bride, Rabbi Dovid Greene, co-director of Chabad Lubavitch of Rochester. "Our goal was to make each stage of the wedding both understandable and meaningful, as each ritual is filled with so much significance."

The wedding was held outdoors as a symbol of God's promise to Abraham that his children would multiply like "the stars of heaven."

The Peace Plaza, which has been rented for weddings before, proved to be the perfect location, not only for its proximity to the Kahler Hotel, where the reception for 300 was held, but also because people of all races and religions pass through.

"It's nice for people to see a Hasidic ritual," said Doba Greene, 21, who said her family was sent to Rochester by a rabbi to serve Jews who come to the city for medical treatment and the wider community.

It's tradition that the bride and groom don't see one another for a week before the wedding, but Greene and Schlass, who owns a pizza shop in Israel, where the couple plan to live, haven't seen each other since they were engaged in May.

The couple was reunited just before the wedding ceremony when Schlass placed a white veil made from cloth passed down through generations over Greene's face. The veil has several meanings, including that her husband is not solely interested in her physical beauty, but her inner beauty as well. It also provides the bride with privacy at this propitious time of her life.

The ceremony ended with the groom stepping on a wine glass in remembrance of the destruction of Jerusalem and its Holy Temple. With that the guests began to clap and sing.

"Everybody should get up and dance," the rabbi told the crowd. "It's not a request. It's an obligation."

A fast-paced song began to play and Greene removed her veil, revealing a wide smile as she hugged her family and friends.

"It's always fun to see a wedding," said Lindy Phannestiel of Colorado, who was among the passers-by who stopped to watch the ceremony. "It reminds you of your own."

"It's great that they did this in a public place," said her husband, Eric Phannestiel. "So the public can celebrate with them."


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