Friday, March 21, 2008

Island bride is wed outdoors according to the customs of Chabad Lubavitch

Wedding is 'a first for Manor Road'
Island bride is wed outdoors according to the customs of Chabad Lubavitch


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- An outdoor wedding in March is unusual on Staten Island but the chuppah under which Shmuli Bendet and Aidy Katzman were married Sunday was outdoors according to the customs of the Chabad Lubavitch movement.

The wedding took place at the Joan and Alan Bernikow Jewish Community Center in Sea View, and although David Sorkin, executive director, said weddings have been held previously there, it was the first Hasidic wedding.

"It's a first for Manor Road," said guest Anita Diamond as she and her daughter, Ruth Fabes, headed out to the chuppah and the outdoor ceremony that was steeped in tradition.

The new Mrs. Bendet, 22, didn't see her own wedding.

According to custom, her face was covered with an opaque veil placed on her by her 26-year-old groom before the ceremony.

The veil is symbolic of a number of things -- that only her groom shall gaze upon her beauty, that he is not only interested in her physical beauty, which fades with time, and that the bride seeks to emulate Rebecca, who covered her face out of modesty the first time she saw Isaac.

Tradition also holds that the divine presence rests upon the bride's face, which must be covered just as Moses' face was covered when he received the commandments on Mount Sinai.

Behind her veil, the bride says prayers and asks that she will be as worthy as Rebecca, whose marriage to Isaac marked the beginning of the Jewish people.

After the ceremony, which included the bride circling seven times around her groom and a rabbi's blessing over the wine, the couple and their 500 invited guests went back indoors for a wedding feast with music and dancing -- men in one room, women in another.

The crowd included many people who would not identify themselves as Orthodox. It is the mission of Chabad to reach out to all Jews in an effort to make them more cognizant of the many traditions of the religion.

The bride is the daughter of Staten Island's well-known Rabbi Moshe Katzman and his wife, Rebbetzin Chani Katzman.

She and her new husband, who comes from St. Paul, Minn., will spend a year in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, worldwide headquarters of the Chabad movement.

After that they will continue to work as Chabad emissaries although where they'll be sent is not yet known.

"We hope they'll come to Staten Island," Rebbetzin Katzman said.

Leslie Palma-Simoncek is the religion editor for the Advance. She may be reached at Visit her Beyond Beliefs Web log at

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