The sea of bearded men in black frock coats and fedoras, lifting their voices in ancient Hebrew chants, was the first hint that this was no ordinary South Carolina wedding.
Then there was the striking brunette bride, her eyes shielded by a rectangular face covering, led by her parents and grandparents seven times around the somber groom under a flower-decked chupah, or canopy, overlooking picturesque Rockyford Lake. The female and male guests were separated, as prescribed by Orthodox Jewish tradition, under two peaked white tents to witness the ceremony.
Chaya Epstein, 22, of Columbia, and Mendy Moscowitz, a 23-year-old rabbi from Chicago, wed Tuesday on a beautiful spring afternoon in Columbia’s first Chassidic wedding, an event that one visiting rabbi from California declared “an absolutely historic moment in Columbia.”
“This represents a community coming into its own,” said Rabbi David Eliezrie, of Yorba Linda, Ca.
Orthodox Jewish ritual included the reading of the marriage contract, the veiling of the bride, the ceremonial circuit around the bridegroom, the giving of the bride’s ring, the seven blessings and the final breaking of the wine glass and the welcome shouts of Mazel Tov!”
Rabbi Baruch Hertz, leader of congregation Bnei Ruven in Chicago officiated; his father had married the parents of the bride 27 years ago. Rabbi Baruch Epstein of Chicago, father of the groom, Hesh Epstein’s, brother, reminded those gathered that while men are traditionally physical protectors of women, “on the transcendent level it is women who protect men.”
Chavi Epstein, the bride’s mother resplendent in a soft brown Chantilly lace and silk gown, has sent her nine children off, one by one as they came of age, to attend rabbinical schools in places like New York and Chicago. Now, her daughter had returned to be wed in her hometown. CONTINUE READING...