brighton beach,new york
By Larry Gordon

It’s the best of the best circumstances, thankfully. It is wedding season, if there is such a thing.

Though weddings had to take place surreptitiously during the pandemic, as the emergency faded, everything seemed to flow back to normal quite naturally, and it was business—or simcha—as usual, baruch Hashem.

Even during COVID, we attended several weddings that seemed absolutely conventional once you were inside the wedding hall, but rather unconventional when you look back at what we had to do to get inside these venues that were supposed to be closed.

Were we doing something wrong by attending these events? Well, these were religious ceremonies in which we were participating, protected by our First Amendment rights and the freedom of religion.

Of course, that constitutional protection did not stop state government, under the direction of the nearly forgotten Andrew Cuomo, from declaring a public health emergency which, dangerously, was supposed to supersede our G-d-given and lawful rights. In the end, after a long delay, the courts ruled on the side of freedom of religion. So, in other words, we had a right to that sushi and prime rib.

I don’t want to count the upcoming simchas, but I’d like to share them with the readers. I was debating whether I should share the names of the people making the simchas, and as you will see shortly, I decided to include them because these are all great simchas. But you and they have to understand that in most instances, I only know one of the two families involved.

I would also note that we attended a few bar mitzvahs and a couple of brissim as well, but I am sticking primarily to wedding-associated events in this column.

One of the challenges this week is that two of our mechutanim are making weddings for their children on the same night. I can tell you what the plan is, but I cannot relate how it worked out because the two weddings are taking place as we go to press.

One wedding is Eli Hazan’s, my son Yochanan’s brother-in-law, who is marrying Nechama Nussbaum. The other is Esther Ray’s, my son Dovi’s sister-in-law, who is marrying Yitzie Miller. Eli’s parents, Esther and Michoel Hazan, and Esther’s parents, Sari and Alan Ray, are the mechutanim. Figuring out how to handle a situation like this can only be considered a good problem to have. The Hazan wedding is at the Brightstone in Passaic, NJ, and the Ray wedding is in Williamsburg at Ateres Avrohom. The plan is to start out early for Passaic and then make our way to Brooklyn.

According to Waze, the distance from Passaic to Williamsburg is 18.4 miles; under optimal circumstances it should be about 35 minutes of driving time. But that does not take into consideration traffic or parking. We are determined, however, to make it to the best parts of both weddings, G-d willing.

The great wedding tug-of-war is about how far to travel to attend a wedding. For example, two weeks ago we went to a great wedding at the Rockleigh Country Club for our friends Lisa and Judd Lesser. It was a beautiful wedding, and we were pleased to attend. At the same time, Rockleigh, NJ, is on the border in terms of how far to travel to a wedding.

Actually, Rockleigh is not that far from Monsey, but it’s about 80 miles from Lakewood, so they really do not belong in the same traveling category.

Let’s go back to COVID for a moment, when there was an inordinate number of weddings in Lakewood, NJ, even though both families involved may have lived just a few minutes away from us here in the Five Towns. With the ever-changing COVID rules, those were extenuating circumstances, and local governments in the various New Jersey townships were more lenient when it came to religious events like wedding ceremonies.

Over the years, as far as I can recall, I’ve been to Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami for weddings, but mostly for family. Now there are a couple of out-of-town or destination weddings coming up that we would have liked to attend if the calendar were not so filled, thankfully, with local events.

One is the marriage of Ilan Portnoy, the son of Sarah and Tanchum Portnoy who live nearby in Lawrence. This wedding will be taking place on Saturday night, December 10, in Mexico City. The other wedding, of Reuvi Landy, the son of Tami and Jeff Landy, takes place four days later, on December 14, at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. Jeff is the deputy mayor of the Village of Lawrence. We would have liked to attend both events, but there are weddings and other family events keeping us here—close to home—and a few days later, iy’H, we are leaving to Israel for Chanukah.

I should add that this coming weekend, our mechutanim Orly and Jeff Stern of Miami Beach are making a vort here in New York. Their son Sruli is getting engaged to Mindy Kahn. I hope I’m not ruining any surprises. (I don’t think I am. Really.)

Also, our son-in-law Jeremy’s son Yakir announced his engagement to Talia Diner of Montreal last week. So it’s really not that much about who is making what wedding where, who the caterer is, or who’s singing at the festivities. Neither is the reception, the bar, or the main course (if you stay that late) really central to all these events.

The great thing about all these occasions is watching family members march down the aisle as, step by step, in the direction of the chuppah, the generations gradually begin to change.

From inside our family I enjoy observing how, in this case, my sons are adding new family members, too—new brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law—one small step at a time. I watch them visiting and staying over for a Shabbos when they are in town.

It is a confluence of simcha in the season when we read how our forefather Yitzchak met and married Rivka, and Yaakov married Leah and then Rachel. This is where the story of the future of the Jewish people begins, and this is also where my story of a very busy simcha season comes to a conclusion.

Mazal tov to all the families involved in these beautiful simchas. May all the couples be a source of great nachas for many years to come.

Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at 5TJT.com. Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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