Reality of a grand Hasidic wedding

May 23, 2013

Jerusalem

By Ronen Zvulun

Coming back home at 5am sunrise, I was just beginning to digest the grand event I was lucky to witness and cover: the wedding of the grandson of one of the most influential spiritual leaders in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community.

GALLERY: ULTRA-ORTHODOX WEDDING EXTRAVAGANZA

The wedding, attended by some 25,000 people, was a massive event that was conducted like a military operation.

How do you take care of thousands of people, feed them, accommodate them, seat them and provide safety for the huge crowd? There was a 20-story stand that needed to hold thousands of dancing Hasidic men.

“One million plastic cups” bragged one of the ultra-Orthodox men who I was squeezed in next to. A team responsible for managing the event were running around, communicating through radio headsets. A control room overlooked every corner of the venue and a production company was responsible for the live coverage of the celebration, which was displayed on large screens placed throughout the neighborhood, giving people who couldn’t make it into the venue itself an opportunity to witness the wedding.

The female guests sat some two kilometers (1.2 miles) away from the men in a separate hall, where they followed the men’s celebration on large screens.

About 50 percent of prime-time television in Israel is taken up by reality television programs. Members of the Hasidic community are often isolated from the secular society and would not watch popular television shows. This made me think that this celebration, which drew large numbers from their homes, was like the Hassidic community’s prime-time viewing. It can be thought of as a kind of “reality show” within the Hasidic community.

At the end of the day, the massive turnout from various sects of the ultra-Orthodox community who came to show their respect for the legacy of the Belz community and its spiritual leader, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, left its mark on me.

11 comments

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beautiful pictures and a very interesting thought as this ( and other events done inside this communities) has some similarity to the secular tribale bone fire — TV.

Posted by nir | Report as abusive

A little sexist, right?

Posted by nycapollo17 | Report as abusive

middle age flavor. it is sad we have to hear Israel is a modern society where women have equal rights: 2 km away ?

Posted by phoen2011 | Report as abusive

So, explain it Ronan, if you can! What was the mark left on you? The event looks a bit sick to me, or am I missing something?

Posted by Rinaldo36 | Report as abusive

it is sad we have to hear Israel is a modern society where women have equal rights: 2 km away? < No it’s not sad. This is their tradition and they are proud of it! You keep your traditions, they keep their traditions.

Posted by AndreBruton | Report as abusive

Scary stuff. She looks like she is going to some sort of sacrifice. All those men watching. Yuk

Posted by diddums | Report as abusive

Interesting. One gets the impression that one woman is as strong or stronger than 25,000 men with all their words, rules, and rituals.

Posted by Cleveland2012 | Report as abusive

I found this very disturbing.

Can anyone explain to me why they have 6-8 children, all collect welfare, refuse to assimilate, believe they are superior to everyone else, are aggressive and cowardly (at the same time), resemble the islam-o-fascists in their treatment of women, are misogynistic, all wear glasses, go to school forever but only study religion … and oh, are some of the ugliest most inbred rubes on the planet…BUT, it’s WRONG to hate or dislike them? and doing to makes one an EVIL anti-semite?

Oh, wait, it’s because the “normal” billionaire jews run America…never mind, carry on people, nothing to see here.

Posted by Foxdrake_360 | Report as abusive

Looks to me like collective evil incarnate. Poor girl.

Posted by Rinaldo36 | Report as abusive

The remnants of a society that was nearly destroyed in WWII celebrating the ritual of marriage just like they did in late Medieval Europe. This is both fascinating and troubling.

Posted by rikfre | Report as abusive

I know it’s their tradition but could we wait for people to enter religion until they are 18 years old at least? I think if you believe as a woman that you are dirty an impure and deserve to be treated worst than an object you are insane but it’s your call you can believe whatever you want.

But raise girls to believe this and be il treated and in general all the bad stuff you read about hasidic customs (and a lot of other sects and religions to) is far to gross and cruel.

If you want to keep traditions after you know what is to be treated like an equal is your call but all this kids deserve non religious good education and equal treatment for boys and girls.

Posted by Conejitowicked | Report as abusive