When's the last time you attended a livingroom wedding?
The story goes like this: Radna, a non-Jewish tourist from Bulgaria, fell in love with Barak from Israel. They moved in together, about to be another tragic statistic of assimilation. Radna took an interest in Judaism, and began to pressure Barak - completely nonreligious at the time - to find a rabbi to instruct her. Barak asked one of his old army buddies if he knew a rabbi, and was given my phone number. With the Melitzer Rebbe's blessing, I agreed to tutor Radna on one condition - that Barak attend all the lessons. To make a long story short, 13 months later - with Barak observing Shabbos, eating strictly kosher food, wearing tefillin, and praying every day in a minyan - Radna made history and became the first convert ever to be converted in Ashdod's chassidic "Badatz", or high religious court. The dayanim (religious court judges) were amazed at the breadth of her knowledge. "She's another Ruth," said the Melitzer Rebbe.
Radna became Rivka, but with no family in Israel and with very limited means, she began to despair. "How can Barak and I ever get married?", she sobbed to my wife. "We can barely afford food and the rent!" Barak had lost nearly everything from a messy divorce several years ago and is doing his best to start afresh in a small welding business.
My unbelievable wife Yehudit, may Hashem bless her always and fill her life with joy, told Rivka not to worry. "Lazer and I will make you a wedding right here in our livingroom, and it won't cost you a cent!" Yehudit cooked and baked everything from scratch, and the Melitzer agreed to be "mesader kiddushin", performing the wedding a mere hour before taking off to Jerusalem to seal his own engagement.
Allow me to share with you some photographic records of one of the most special weddings I ever attended, and in my own living room. Also, I'd like to express heartfelt gratitude to our wonderful Outreach Program donors, whose generous contributions covered the cost of the musician and the food. Special blessings go to the Leners of New Jersey, the Shiplets of Texas, and the Davis family of Manchester, UK. May Hashem fill your lives with endless happiness, in virtue of the happiness you have granted others.
Signing the ketuba (marital writ), from left: The Chosson (groom), Rabbi Haggai Moshe Tzin (Dean of the Vishnitzer Kollel in Ashdod), the Melitzer Rebbe, Lazer
Melitzer Rebbe explains the ketuba to the groom
Bride circles the groom seven times, under a chuppa (canopy) formed by four men holding a tallis
Melitzer Rebbe performing the marriage ceremony
Melitzer Rebbe reads the ketuba
Mazal Tov! Now the chosson gets his workout...
Keitzad Merakdim lifnei HaKalla! Behold how they dance before the bride!
Sheikh Lazer and next-door neighbor Yankele Shapira making merry for the chosson and kalla
May the voice of joy reverberate across the hills of Judea to our rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, soon and in our time, amen!