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Jewish Wedding (Lubavitch Hasidic), Crown Heights, NY, 2000
Sara rinses her hands before cutting the braided challah, a yeast-leavened egg bread which is ceremoniously divided on religious occasions.
Katrina Thomas's notes: More than populate Israel, there are an estimated 5.7 million Jews in the U.S. In addition to two nationality backgrounds, Ashkenazi and Sephardic, they belong to four movements, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Hasidic. Jewish weddings today combine elements, dating back to biblical times when two separate rites were performed, perhaps months or years apart, known in Jewish law, as kiddushin and nissu'in. The first is betrothal, during which the ring is given, and the second, the actual marriage. Over a period of twenty-five years, I photographed a variety of weddings, some with hundreds of guests and some small, all of them essentially the same but different in regard to details. All couples are united under a chuppah, both rites performed at one time. In general, traditions are kept more reverently by Jews than are customs retained more casually by other religions and ethnic groups.