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Jewish Wedding (Lubavitch Hasidic), Crown Heights, NY, 1984
More than 1200 Lubavitch Hasidic families reside in Brooklyn. Yosef, the bridegroom, or "chosen" in Yiddish, has signed the "ketubah." Now he prays with eyes closed and recites the Maamor, a discourse on the spiritual meaning of marriage. For more than an hour, he is toasted by male friends and relatives sitting with him, after which everyone will leave the table in procession to veil his bride, the "kallah."
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.