Brian Keating

A Surrealistic Celebration: Attending an Orthodox Jewish Wedding Amidst the Shadows of War



Jews have always faced adversity. Today is the most fraught moment in over 80 years with antisemitism, internal division, and isolation from both enemies and citizens of allied nations all at once.

So you might think no sane couple would marry at the worst time in recent Jewish history.

But you’d be wrong.

Instead, we find solace, strength, and hope in the most perilous of times.

Defying the gloom of war was the radiant, joyous hope of attending an Orthodox Jewish wedding. As a witness to this surrealistic celebration tonight, I was captivated by the profound resilience and unwavering spirit of a community that continues to thrive despite the looming threat of adversaries seeking to eliminate their existence.

An Orthodox Jewish wedding is a most sacred event, where love, tradition, and faith intertwine to defy the shadows of conflict.

Embracing Tradition:

Orthodox Jewish weddings are a tapestry of ancient customs and rituals that have been meticulously preserved throughout generations. In the midst of war, these traditions hold an even more profound significance, reminding us of the resilience of a people who have faced countless trials throughout history. The wedding canopy, or chuppah, symbolizes the home the couple will build together, serving as a powerful reminder of the unyielding hope for a brighter future even amidst turmoil. The bride, adorned in a traditional white gown, radiates an ethereal beauty that transcends the physical, representing the triumph of love and unity over the forces of darkness.

Community Resilience:

What struck me most profoundly was the unwavering sense of community among the attendees. In a time when enemies seek to divide and conquer, the Jewish community remains united and steadfast in their determination to preserve their heritage and way of life. The wedding acted as a testament to the community’s collective strength, as families, friends, and neighbors joined together to celebrate love and create lasting memories. It was a reminder that even amidst war and chaos, the bonds of community can serve as a powerful shield against those who wish to extinguish their existence.

Transcending Fear with Love:

As the wedding ceremony progressed, it became clear that love was the driving force behind this extraordinary celebration. Despite the shadows of conflict looming outside, the bride and groom glowed with an unmistakable air of hope and happiness. Their commitment to each other symbolized a defiance against the forces of hatred and discord, and their love radiated a resilience that could not be shaken. It was a poignant reminder that in times of darkness, it is love that has the power to transcend fear and bring about transformative change.

Breaking glass, shedding tears, facing forward:

The wedding culminated with pronouncement of the couple as married, the groom shattering a glass underfoot to remember the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem. It serves as a moment of reflection on the fragility of life, even in a time of celebration. The act was immediately followed by joyous roaring shouts of “Mazel Tov!”
A reminder of the Fragility of Life: broken glass symbolizes the frailty of human existence, and the Irreversibility of our actions : Once the glass is broken, it cannot be undone, much like the commitment the couple has just made.

This wartime wedding left an indelible mark on my soul.

The surrealistic joyous hope that permeated the air was a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of love. It served as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, the embrace of tradition, the resilience of community, and the transformative power of love can illuminate the path towards a future filled with hope & unity. May we all learn from this extraordinary celebration and find strength within ourselves and our community.


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