By Michael Orbach – The Jewish Star
Tatyana and Alex Shalshin have been together since they were 17 and have two beautiful children, David, 5, and Nicole, 1. On December 13th the couple, already married according to civil law, will have a full Jewish marriage ceremony on national television as part of Chabad of Mineola’s 17th Annual Chanukah Telethon.
“We always wanted to have one because getting married legally is just for the papers, it’s not really a marriage,” explained Tatyana, who emigrated from the then-Soviet Union when she was 11-years-old.
“We always wanted to have a ceremony with the chupah but it costs a lot of money and there are a lot of people to invite.”
Rabbi Anchelle Perl, who runs the telethon, approached the couple a few weeks ago about having a traditional ceremony during the telecast. The couple readily agreed and the full Jewish wedding, from the bedecken to the chupah, will be aired as part of the program. The couple lives with their two children in Mineola where Tatyana works as a chiropractor and Alex is currently finishing up his fellowship in Pulmonary Critical Care at Winthrop hospital.
“We figured it’s G-d calling,” Tatyana laughed. “We always wanted it and now it’s time. It just kind of landed in our lap.”
Alex was born in Moldova and raised in Brooklyn. He was circumcised when he came to America as an adolescent, though neither Alex nor Tatyana were raised religious.
“It’s an enriching experience,” Alex said about the upcoming ceremony. “You’re going back to the roots of our traditions for many thousands of years, back to our ancestors. We’re looking forward to continuing our traditions and we hope one day our children will carry on these traditions. ”
Alex and Tatyana’s families will attend the chupah.
The telethon will raise money for Chabad of Mineola’s activities, which include outreach, drug prevention, daycare, and financial aid. Chabad’s prison visitation program will also be expanding this year to include female inmates.
Rabbi Perl said that, given the financial climate, this telethon is more important than ever.
“We’ve had 2500 phone calls from people looking for help,” Rabbi Perl told the Jewish Star. “Not simply for a hand-out, but simply people living between jobs; people whose houses are about to foreclose; people needing food.
There are many things being done quietly. We paid bills in supermarkets.”
Last year the telethon raised half-a-million dollars and Rabbi Perl hopes to raise the same amount this year. Despite the bleak financial outlook, he says the telethon will focus on the positive, like the Shalshin’s re-wedding, and a latke eating contest with latkes supplied by a local supermarket, Brach’s.
“The emphasis is on having fun eating latkes,” Rabbi Perl said,” but we have to keep in mind many of those who don’t have any food to eat and come together for those people.”
Rabbi Pearl’s Chanukah Telethon will air December 13th on WLNY TV 10/55 from 7-11 p.m. The Neshoma Orchestra will perform for the wedding, and the show will also feature a performance from the Dancing Rabbis and the Meshuga Daddies, a local comedy troupe.
“When the going gets tough, the light keeps growing,” Rabbi Pearl said.