Volume 24 Number 49
                       Produced: Thu Jun 27  7:43:33 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Attending remarriage of a parent after divorce
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Extravagance of Weddings
         [Susan Hornstein]
Huge Wedding Expenses (mj 24 #48)
         [Chaim Wasserman]
         [Janice Gelb]
Wedding Expenses
         [Andy Levy-Stevenson]
Weddings (2)
         [Jerry B. Altzman, Edwin R Frankel]


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 09:35:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Attending remarriage of a parent after divorce

In v24n44, Sam Gamoran writes:

>  At my father's request, my brothers and I *did* attend our father's
> second marriage after our parents' divorce (we were quite young at the
> time and it did not even occur to us to ask a poseq).  After we
> returned home to our mother, I learned how much the wedding, which she
> of course did not attend, upset her.  Had I known this in advance, I
> likely would not have gone.
>  From this personal experience, I can easily understand a minhag not to
> attend a second marriage AFTER DIVORCE because of the feelings of the other
> parent.  However, I fail to see how this could be a problem fro a widowed
> parent remarrying.

I have no personal experience here so this is speculative, but... the
positive side of one's going in that situation is that it is a good thing
that the father wants to maintain contact with his children, still
considers them HIS family as well as his ex-wife's family.  Much better
than the father's not wanting them there, IMHO, even though of course
their mother will be upset about it.  

JUST my 2c.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


From: <susanh@...> (Susan Hornstein)
Date: 25 Jun 1996  12:41 EDT
Subject: Extravagance of Weddings

On the topic of the exorbitent cost of weddings and other simchas
in our communities, we fully agree with all of the previous posters.
I'd like to add another dimension to this discussion.  We recently
received a letter of solicitation for Tzedaka, sanctioned by well
known Modern Orthodox organizations, hand written by a family head.
There was a cover letter from the organization mailing it out.  The
letters spoke of this large family, their desperate situation, the
potential that their many children would be without food to eat, oh
and by the way, the fact that the oldest son and daughter are of
marriagable age, and weddings cost so much.  If it had stopped at
the part about the starving kids, I think we would have sent some
money.  I understand that there is a mitzvah of Hachnasat Kallah,
of helping to provide weddings for needy brides, but I can't believe
that anyone really needs more than a bottle of wine, and maybe some
schnapps and sponge cake, a challah or two, and some gefilte fish or
soup to actually make a wedding, IF THEIR CHILDREN ARE GOING HUNGRY!
How far is the mitzvah of Hachnasat Kallah expected to go?  Isn't it
better to provide household goods to a new couple than a one night
blowout that's gone when you leave?!  Are people really putting
"making a nice wedding" up there in their priorities with feeding their
families?  In our opinion, this is a serious reversal of appropriate
Torah priorities, social priorities, family nurturing priorities, and
any other kind of priorities you wish to add.  P.S.  Once, a meshulach
(Tzedaka solicitor) came to our door asking for money for his
honeymoon.  We sent him away.

Susan and Justin Hornstein


From: <Chaimwass@...> (Chaim Wasserman)
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 1996 08:37:13 -0400
Subject: Huge Wedding Expenses (mj 24 #48)

Alana speaks with a lot of sense and great sensitivity. There are two
reactions and several comments I should like to add to the discussion
concerning huge wedding expenses.

[1] Alana suggest sitdown vegetarian. That is fine with me (I am
vegetarian most of the time). You will get a lot of resistance from
those who will quote the talmudic dictum that "no simcha [ought to be
celebrated] unless meat and wine are served."

[2] Experience with four weddings of my own children and over 600
weddings as a rabbinic "captain" (mesader kiddushin) or
co-captain-participant has me convinced with certainty that professional
photography especially top-of-the-line videos is well worth all the
money. Its value grows ever greater with the passage of time especially
as the older generation passes on.

And two comments: [1] Art work at home is a wonderful way of decorating
a newly organized household. Who said, however, that a kesubah needs to
be written so that it costs many hundreds of dollars? A kesubah is a
legal document which has the same validity as any other legal
document. At no times does a legal instrument have to be hand executed
and artistically embellished to the tune of many many hundreds of
dollars. Of course, if a nice uncle-aunt or grandparent would like to
gift this to the couple then "kol hakavod!"

[2] Certain socio-economic groups must have things just right with all
of the "customary" ways of doing things. The daughters of Rashi and the
Rambam's son did not get married in the "customary" manner in which
yeshivish and neo-chassidish circles of today consider to be as
essential as a halachah handed down from Moshe miSinai. Also, what do
you with people who are well-to-do? They must maintain their status and
upper class integrity. How are they convinced to "cool it"? (With thesse
people I have seen bar-bat mitzvah celebrations which cost as much as a
wedding.  Any suggestions?

chaim wasserman


From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 09:10:58 -0700
Subject: Shidduchim

I read with interest Sam Saal's message about singles events (Vol 24,
#45). I've run a few in my time and, as a matter of fact, am helping run
a fledgling one at my synagogue. I admire his efforts, especially in
writing a manual to help people run Shabbatonim.

However, I guess I wasn't as clear in my original message as I had
hoped.  What I would like to see happen is a community-wide
acknowledgment of matching singles up on a one-to-one basis, not
necessarily for them to contribute more funds to singles events
(although that would certainly be helpful too). For example, for
everyone, single or married, in the Jewish community to keep Jewish
singles that they know in mind as they come in contact with *other*
Jewish singles. For rabbis to encourage their congregations to invite
singles together for a meal, and to keep in mind the singles in their
congregations. For families to keep their single cousins and aunts and
uncles in mind. And so on.

This is done fairly often in large frum communities; the purpose of my
post was to encourage those in smaller frum communities, or those in
alternative observant communities, to do so as well. Large singles
events are useful and can be productive; however, not everyone shines in
a large gathering, and not everyone feels comfortable being "on
display," as these gatherings almost always require. One-on-one matching
is still, I believe, the most effective way to get couples together, but
will only work if the whole community sees it as a priority and has
their consciousness raised about it.

-- Janice
Janice Gelb                  | The only connection Sun has with this      
<janiceg@...>   | message is the return address. 


From: Andy Levy-Stevenson <andyls@...>
Date: 24 Jun 1996 11:47:53 -0600
Subject: Wedding Expenses

I heartily agree with Alana's post about lessening the cost of
weddings. Since I'm from Britain, we decided it would be fun to have an
afternoon tea for our wedding, rather than a full plated meal. We let it
be WIDELY known that the meal would be milchig so people wouldn't have
hot dogs for lunch beforehand! Because of the timing, few people availed
themselves of the open bar but had wine instead.

We did have a photographer, flowers etc. (although our flowers were very
simple) but like Alana, we insisted on a terrific band (local), and a
big dance floor. Add to that a sufficient number of frum friends to
counterbalance the largely non-frum family that didn't leap immediately
into the dancing, and we had one heck of a wedding.

It's still talked about five years later as one of the most fun weddings
our community's seen: Why? Because we're blessed with friends who took
it on themselves to bring a freihliche spirit, and blessed with family
who (after some hesitation) came along happily for the ride.

One wonderful side-effect of the buffet tea was the seating arrangement;
there wasn't one! We simply set substantially too many places (maybe 250
when there were 200 guests) and left it to people to seat themselves. My
in-laws are divorced, so they were able to establish their various areas
with equanimity and still allow everyone else to visit easily. Further,
those of our friends who prefer separate seating at simchas did just
that. For anyone struggling with seating plans, I highly recommend this

 Andy Levy-Stevenson                Email:     <andyls@...>
 Publications Specialist            Voice:       612.330.9269
 Public Radio International         Fax:         612.330.9222
 100 North Sixth Street, #900A      URL:   http://www.pri.org
 Minneapolis, MN 55403, USA           


From: Jerry B. Altzman <jbaltz@...>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 10:47:06 -0400
Subject: Re: Weddings 

   On Mon, 17 Jun 1996 13:36:06 EDT, Diane Sandoval wrote:

[...on ending the "opulence" of weddings...]

When my wife and I got married WAAAAAY back when (1992), we faced a, how
shall I put it, acute shortage of money. Neither one of our parents are
particularly wealthy, and it took some serious negotiating with the
caterer (who was looking at the possibility of losing a
Sunday-afternoon-in-June booking at the last minute if he didn't bend),
we implemented some of Diane's suggestions, and I include my comments.

   1.  End the full smorgasbord.  Despite some brave souls having tried to
   eliminate it from time to time, the full smorgasbord is still
   acceptable, whereas it should be regarded as the exception to the norm
   (if at all).  For weddings at times when it is expected that the seudah
   will be served much later than the previous meal of most guests, light
   hors d'oeuvre or danish and beverages would be more than sufficient and
   can be served attractively.

We have found that at most weddings we have attended, there is simply
TOO DARN MUCH FOOD served. If you serve a lot of food, people will eat
it, and eat it, and eat it, and gorge themselves. If you serve some
food, people will eat that and not gorge themselves (and be in better
shape for dancing later). We had passed hors d'oeuvres and danishes and
received comments from some of our guests how welcome a change that was:
"I couldn't imagine having a huge smorgasbord at 11:30 anyway!"

   3.  Reduce the size of the bands.  With the use of amplification, fewer
   pieces are needed than are being used currently.  In fact (my pet
   peeve), the noise level created at many simchas currently makes them
   less enjoyable than they might be because conversation is impossible.

We have found that, at the weddings we attended, 4 pieces makes a good
balance between variety of instruments and loudness. (We even had to ask
them to turn down the volume a little bit.) It is almost axiomatic that
the more pieces in the band, the noiser overall, and this can, for many
people, reduce the overall enjoyment of the _simcha_.

   4.  Other elements of the food service can be cut back and still have a
   more than acceptable seudah.  There is no need for the number of courses
   still served at some weddings.  In addition, one or more courses could
   be served buffet style; this is probably the most radical change, but
   many bar and bat mitzvahs (including one I attended yesterday) are
   buffet style and are very simchadik.

We had a buffet wedding, and it so impressed one of our guests that
*she* had the same thing served at her wedding (on our first
anniversary, in the same hall...I guess imitation really is flattery.)
Many folks commented on that as well, saying that they liked having a
little better portion control (and the caterer allowed us to add a
little more variety). Don't sweat about crowd control at the buffet
tables, either. Most people, dressed up in suits and ties (or tuxedos,
depending on your tastes) at a wedding don't engage in horribly
anti-social behavior.

Also, there is, in general, a big extra charge for Viennese dessert
tables (is that what they're called), when by the time people are all
danced out (you hope) something smaller (sorbet and wedding cake) may do
just as well.  Of course, those dessert tables are really tasty, and
those of you with a sweet tooth may just decide that dessert is just
something on which one CAN'T scrimp...

One thing that Diane didn't mention: unless things have changed greatly,
there is a lot of pressure applied by the caterer, the bands, and the
photographer to get a wedding with "all the bells and whistles" since
this of course increases their profit margin. People have to realize
(maybe after seeing a few lower-key weddings come off very nicely) that:

	- Your friends won't think any less of you if you don't have 
	  a big smorgasbord/dessert table/six-course meal
	- The music can be just as nice with 4 pieces as with 7
	- You don't watch your wedding video nearly as often as you think
	  you will, and others usually aren't nearly as interested in watching 
	  it as you think they are... 

So remain the one in control of your purse. Remind the
caterer/photographer/band director that you aren't made of money, and
you want to do what you can with $XXXX.

Of course, you can have a wonderful wedding with a smorgasbord, huge
dessert table, 9-piece band (with harpist), huge floral arrangements and
multiple videos running. It's just that these things are nowhere near
necessary to be able to share a nice simcha with your friends and
family, so your parents don't have to get a second mortgage on the house
to help you share your simcha.

jerry b. altzman   Entropy just isn't what it used to be      +1 212 650 5617
<jbaltz@...>   jbaltz@scisun.sci.ccny.cuny.edu                KE3ML

From: <frankele@...> (Edwin R Frankel)
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 16:23:14 -0700
Subject: Weddings

>From: <Diansand@...> (Diane Sandoval)
>I heartily concur with Gad Frenkel (Vol 24, No 43) that the cost and
>extravagance associated with weddings is an issue which should be dealt
>with in the orthodox community.  However, the extravagance is not only
>in the size of a wedding (as perhaps implied in the wonderful story of
>the Rebbi of Ger, which Gad relates), but also in an opulent setting.
>These two elements should be dealt with separately.

Ms. Sandoval makes many noteworthy points in her correspondence.  We
ought all remember that the Chazal did what they could to keep marraige
costs down.  A reading of maseches Kiddushin will remind us of the
minimal costs associated with entry into marriage. Is it not a shame
that this halachic model is not extended to be the arbiter for all
aspects of the marriage celebration.

Ed Frankel


End of Volume 24 Issue 49