Certainly there are only few arguments concerning love not being the most beautiful thing possessed by humans. When it is eventually found and nurtured, it becomes a treasure and natural binding force that helps two get along. Just like a gift, it usually ignites the mindset to feel secured with the beautiful possession in one’s grasp. Understanding how this works and getting into the position of utilizing the potential energy that comes with it- then it becomes good blessing finding a superb match.
The story of Gershon and his beautiful bride is fascinating when told across Jewish Nigeria. Going through the love corridor for quite a lengthy time, and then experiencing the expected happy ending is one of the sweetest stories one can imagine.
Moreover, something about the Jewish women is tendency of being modest and priceless. Her worth is far above the value of rubies, according to the Eishet Chayil. The heart of her husband trusts in her and nothing shall he lack. She is robed in strength and dignity and cheerfully faces whatever may come… No wonder the popular saying- our Jewish mothers are truly the best!
This post covers the wedding ceremony, which was a classic Jewish Chuppah combined with a touch of Igbo traditional-style of celebration. The event, which took place in Anambra State witnessed guests in attendance from three different continents in the world.
Brief Profile of Gershon- the Groom
Name: Gershon ben Daniel
State: Anambra State
Synagogue: Igbo Jewish Community Synagogue
Occupation/Profession: Entrepreneur/Commercial Sculpture
Education: Graduate of Fine & Applied Arts from Auchi Polytechnic
Taking A Wife Jewishly
The customs of Judaism have successfully passed from one generation to the other. Simply by observing to do as commanded according to the Torah, and teaching these ways to our children- the promise of perpetual covenant has been fulfilled ultimately. Hence, the reason for the great importance of the family institution in terms of sustaining and expansion of Judaism globally.
He who finds a wife has found a good thing. Now when a Jewish woman is involved, not only has he found the path of strength and luck- but by so doing created an active spot in the genealogical tree. However, everything must go down through the right way, under the Chuppah (the Jewish wedding canopy). Just as every other people are known with a particular marriage concept, Jews do not get married without the canopy and breaking of glasses. This in the actual sense is the beauty of the model of getting wedded Jewishly.
Welcome To The Leophine Residency Hotel!
On the 25th of August, everything was set for the occasion that has been announced a couple of months beforehand. Although, it looked like a perfect timing- as the event coincided with the ending of the National Jewish Youth Seminar (2019) – giving many of them the opportunity to witness the ceremony. So the venue of the seminar was the take-off point for most of the younger guests at the wedding. Surely, it’s one of those memorable days for them to attend the matrimonial union of two wonderful youths joined together as man and wife.
Shortly before the start of the event, the color-studded hall was filled to the last seat. To get the record straight- this Chuppah has the most number of people coming from different locations across the globe. So with several smiling faces seated inside the beautifully decorated hall, the expectations were high, as well as the whole excitement that comes from such gathering.
Let’s Meet The Bride- Gilla
Here are some noteworthy profiles of the beautiful bride of the day:
Name: Gilla marat Gershon
State: Anambra State
Synagogue: Igbo Jewish Community Synagogue
Occupation/Profession: Fashion Designer
Education: Graduate of Imo State University
Make Way For The Queen As She Appears In The Crowd!
Her entrance into the great hall was an eye-catching moment for many who eagerly wanted to see how she looked on that special day. Dressed in a sparkling white robe, her charming smiles brightened up the entire place as she moved in the midst of the crowd. Flanked on both sides by pretty looking bridesmaids and friends from Israel, they made their way to the front passing through the sideways.
However, prior to entering the building, the bridal train had put up a little outdoor show. This preliminary activity saw the whole bridal group surrounding the queen of the day. They chorused a few wedding songs meant to cheer up the bride and remind her about the uniqueness of the day. The songs were led by the young Jewish women from Israel who were thrilled to have played an active role in the wedding during their short visit to Jewish Nigeria.
The melodies resumed again right in front of the audience inside the big hall. Their voices sounded so beautiful as they entertained the people with sweet Hebrew songs. And as the bride finally sat down, she was circled around by other women and younger Jewish girls.
Veiling The Bride Before The March To The Chuppah
Jewish girls, of course, just like many others, don’t get married without a veil on their faces. But the striking difference is that the veiling is usually done by the husband, before the march to the Chuppah takes place. The Chuppah (which means wedding canopy in Hebrew) symbolizes that the man and the wife ought to live together under the same roof and be happy for the union together.
Walking across the hall in short strides, Gershon moved towards his bride who was seated in front of the hall. As this was happening, there was a rousing standing ovation given to the couple, with sweet Jewish melodies in the background. After staring and beholding her beauty, he gently covers her face with the veil and quietly moved towards the canopy. Officially, this signaled the start of the Jewish wedding ceremony.
Jewish Weddings- and The Seven Circles!
Customs generally have unique ways of defining the set of people associated with it. By the repetition of certain processes from time to time, and whenever its demand arises- eventually a culture is thus established. Among some of the noteworthy traditions of Jewish wedding, the concept of the seven circles is quite interesting. It is customary for the bride to go round the groom seven times under the Chuppah. Basically, there’re different reasons for this ancient practice; one of which according to the sages- the ritual of going around the man represents a protection exercise against any form of evil spirit.
But anyway, when people don’t look at it from the spiritual dimension- then it simply seems like the bride going round the groom could just be a way of admiring him closely, one more last time before accepting the marriage ring! However, for any of the above reasons- Gilla completed the task cheerfully, and a great shout of joy went up from the crowd.
Kiddushin- Sanctification of Bride and Groom
Dani Limor (from Israel), the officiating minister for the occasion, took some brief moment to explain some of the features of a typical Jewish wedding. This was important as the audience was a mix of both Jews and non-Jews. Carrying every person along was absolutely very professional, and a way of promoting the rich cultural heritage of the Hebrew people.
The sanctification of the bride and groom is that part of the event, during which the bride is betrothed to the groom as he places a ring upon her finger. But prior to this point, the officiating minister would first raise a cup of wine and recite the following prayers:
Blessed are you, HASHEM, our God, King of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the wine.
Blessed are You, HASHEM, our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has command us regarding forbidden unions; Who forbade betrothed woman to us, and permitted women who are married to us through canopy and consecration. Blessed are you, HASHEM, Who sanctifies His people Israel through canopy and consecration.
At the end of the prayers, the bride and groom each shares from the cup of wine.
The next step after the wine is the Betrothal, which is giving the ring to the bride. At this moment, the audience was watching with greet delight, keen interest and full of admiration for the young couple. Before reaching out for the ring, Gershon brought out a piece of paper from his pocket and recited a prayer in Hebrew which says:
Behold, you are consecrated to me by means of this ring in accordance with the Law of Moses and Israel.
The Ketubah & The Sheva Brachot (Seven Blessings)
The Ketubah (marriage contract) usually contains details of the marital obligations between the man and wife. Following the traditions, the contract certificate is first handed over to the bride, who in turn hands it over to the husband. Then by signing the contract he has accepted the agreement. After which he would present it to the bride, who is also required to counter-sign, and then keep this important document in a safe place.
The next stage of the Jewish wedding is the pronunciation of the Sheva Brachot, which is the seven blessings. Hardly do Jews come together in any gathering without saying different prayers of blessings. There are various reasons to thank the Almighty Father in Heaven according to a particular place and time.
Blessings are powerful declarations meant to affirm G-d’s supremacy, and designed to help man change the course of things to his/her favor. The seven blessings recited during Jewish weddings are meant to help launch the new couple on the path of progress, happiness and meaningful success in every aspects of their life. The recitation of these blessings, according to the tradition, is usually shared among a selected number of people. To this effect, the following people were called up by the officiating minister:
- Gadi Bentley
- Yitzhak ben Peneil and
- Nathan ben Levi
The highlights of the Seven blessings can be summarized under the following headlines, giving absolute respect to HASHEM and acknowledging Him as:
- The Creator of the entire Universe
- He who fashioned the man
- He who fashioned man in His image and Likeness
- The giver of Children
- He Who gladdens the groom and bride
- The Creator of joy and gladness, groom and bride, mirth, glad song, pleasure, delight, love, brotherhood, peace and companion.
- He Who created the fruit of the vine.
The Jewish Tradition of Stomping on a Glass
Stomping on a glass is one of the most popular features of Jewish weddings. This tradition dates back to a couple of centuries ago and still widely practiced today across the globe. Usually, the glass is carefully wrapped to avoid direct contact with the body, before it is smashed by the groom in front of everybody.
The question remains- why do Jews break glasses at weddings? There are several reasons for doing this according some authorities, which are listed below:
- As a reminder of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem
- The noise from the shattering of the glass frightens and scares the demons around
- The smashing of the glass is like a form of incantation: that affirms “As the glass shatters, so may the marriage never break.”
- Covenants in Judaism (just like breaking the tablet at Sinai) are made by breaking or cutting something.
Standing right before the over 250 guests, Gershon smashed the glass with the heel of his shoes. Shouts of Mazal Tov erupted from all corners, with a standing ovation. Shortly after this moment of happiness, then it was time to escort the couples out of the venue, to allow them have some private time. This act is known as the Yichud, which ends the first part of the ceremony and officially completes the forging of the marriage bond between Gershon and Gilla.
The Rich Cultural Heritage Of The Igbo People
A lot has been said about the ancestral linkage between the Igbo tribe of Eastern Nigeria and the Israelite. This fact has been proven beyond many reasonable doubt citing references on the similarities of some traditions, religious customs, and certain behavioral patterns shared between both regions. Nevertheless, how interesting seeing this relationship sustained in this modern day as an important team from Israel (consisting of 4 females and 5 males) were on ground to witness the occasion. In fact, they were the main officiating group for the Jewish wedding.
In the second section of the ceremony, Gershon and Gilla entered the venue in a grand style, accompanied by an Igbo traditional musical group. Both of them, appearing no different from a handsome young chief and his African lolo (wife). As they closed in on the front of the hall, passing through the narrow sideways and advancing forward through the center, the audience were thrilled to the display of the sound of the traditional music. Certainly, this was one of the most memorable moments of the entire day.
The remaining part of the occasion was anchored by another master of ceremony who added more amusement to the event. The cutting of the wedding cake, eating the festive meal and drinking followed in line accordingly, until the final dance party began!
The Seudat Mitzvah Dance Party
Most Jewish weddings end with the Seudat Mitzvah, thereby bringing the whole event to a happy and memorable end. Such an unforgettable ending is often viewed by many as the peak of the ceremony. Because, the moment everyone has been waiting for- is to join the new Jewish couples in the dancing stage.
Usually, the couple would be made to entertain the crowd by engaging in special reception style of dance common at Jewish weddings. In one of these dances, known as the Hoarch- the couples are seated in two separate seats and hoisted into the air.
But that evening, the remaining audience (mostly Jews) were overwhelmed with joy and decided to do additional things for fun. They decided to give some of the foreign guests an unforgettable experience in their visit to Nigeria. At the point when the dancing space was crowded, both Dani Limor and Professor William Miles were hoisted into the air at different point by excited-Jewish youths. There was also a moment when the DJ played an Ethiopian song in honor of two of the Ethiopian/Israeli Jews among the visiting guests. The dance party continued and lasted until it was dark outside, making it one of the most talked about Jewish weddings in Jewish Nigeria.
Appreciation: We’re Grateful – From Gershon & Gilla
The families of the bride and groom are immensely grateful to everyone who was part of the wedding celebration. Both the officiating team and the organizing management committee were exceptional in carrying out their functions effectively. And our profound thanks to these brothers (Harim, Yoseph, Shmuel) for making us a lovely and holy canopy at the wedding!
Also, not forgetting all the heads of Synagogues across Jewish Nigeria and other representatives who graced the occasion, and the youths who made it down to Ogidi after the one week National Youth Jewish Seminar. We truly thank you all for coming around to be with us.
As you all made out time to join us in making our occasion worthwhile, our prayers is for the Almighty Father also make a way for you all, taking you from your current position to where you want to be! Amen.
Mazal Tov! Many Happy Returns In The Years Ahead..
Occasions like this that could happen once in a lifetime are true definition of making history for both the couple and everyone around on that special day. Taking this action(s) means getting into a position- with good expectations of an improvement and a better tomorrow. However, as it may be, whoever HASEHM stands with, then who can go against them? But yet, for the coming months and years ahead to be favorable- then it’s important to remain focused and study to become a better Jew. By understanding to seek knowledge and wisdom, one could blossom and thrive like the cedar in Labanon. Wishing Gershon and Gilla many happy returns in the months ahead. Mazal Tov!
About the Writer: Avraham ben Avraham is a Nigerian Writer, Business Consultant, International Tour Guide and a Jewish Travel Blogger. He is the founder of the Jewish Nigeria Blog (his 2nd blog after the Jewish Standards). His upcoming project is the Jewish Nigeria Online Forum and Parnasa Network (Nigeria). He is a member of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce (New Jersey).
Additional Photo Gallery:
Some additional photo collections from the wedding!
Upcoming Stories On Jewish Nigeria Blog:
- Kulanu Across the Globe: Celebrating 25 Years Anniversary
- A Maiden visit to Gihon Hebrew Synagogue (Abuja) to mark the beginning of the Miles-Cohen International Tour
- The Visit of Professor William Miles To Jewish Communities Across Ebonyi State
- The Jews of Akwaibom State
- Sights and Sounds of The 2nd National Jewish Youth Seminar 2019
- An interview with Gateon Natali and Shlomo ben Yaakov
- National Jewish Youth Seminar Shabbat
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