Greg Garrison – The Birmingham News
What may have been the first-ever Hasidic Jewish wedding in Birmingham was held Tuesday at the Wynfrey Hotel for Chanie Posner of Mountain Brook and Laibel Berkowitz of Southfield, Mich.
“It is rare,” said Rabbi Yossi Posner of the Chabad House on Overton Road, the father of the bride.
Hasidism is a traditional Jewish movement steeped in mysticism that originated in Eastern Europe in the 18th century. It’s characterized by its emphasis on exceptional piety and joyful expression.
Hasidic men are easily recognized by their untrimmed beards and ever-present head coverings, commonly including hats in the old Eastern European style. Women also keep their heads covered after marriage, sometimes with scarves but often by wearing wigs.
Following tradition, the bride and groom do not see one another for a week leading up to the wedding. Also by tradition, they do not touch before the wedding.
Chanie Posner, 22, said she was introduced to Berkowitz, 23, by her first cousin.
They dated just long enough to plan the wedding — about four months, she said.
The wedding begins with separate receptions. Women are with the Kallah (bride) and men with the Chosson (groom). The couple’s mothers break a plate, symbolizing that just as the plate cannot be pieced back together, the engagement is also irreversible. Then a group of men including the groom enter the bride’s hall, where the groom will place an opaque veil on her head.
They then head outdoors for the Chuppah, the ceremony under the canopy. The blessings are recited, he places a ring on her finger, the marriage contract is read, a few more blessings are recited and the groom smashes the glass. Then the crowd moves inside the hotel for dancing and celebration.