The bride and groom have been separated for the week leading up to the wedding. They will come together minutes before the ceremony so the groom can help the bride slip on a veil covering her face. After the ceremony, the couple celebrates separately at parallel men’s and women’s receptions.
On Tuesday, Nissi Naparstek and Chaya Grossbaum will marry in a large, traditional Hasidic ceremony — a rarity in Minnesota. The Jewish population in Minnesota is estimated at 45,000, and the number of orthodox Hasidic Jews, followers of a branch of Judaism that arose in the 18th century, is a tiny fraction of that.
Most Hasidic families travel to New York City for traditional nuptials and kosher receptions.
But the couple decided to celebrate in the bride’s home state, said her father Rabbi Mordechai Grossbaum of the Minneapolis Chabad Lubavitch. More than 380 people are expected to attend at the Mermaid events center in Mounds View, which has agreed to allow in a kosher caterer.
The couple met through a family friend, who is also a matchmaker. Chaya Grossbaum, 23, was living in Philadelphia teaching at a Jewish school when she met Naparstek, 24, who was living in New York and is ordained to be a rabbi.
Their whirlwind courtship occurred during the weekends, and they knew within a matter of weeks that they wanted to marry, the bride’s father said.
“They are dating for marriage, not just for the sake of dating. It’s a lot more focused,” Mordechai Grossbaum said.
The wedding on Tuesday will have two distinct parts.
“The first part of the wedding is more solemn and serious, according to Jewish tradition. Jewish marriage is two halves of a soul that come together through the marriage to become a single soul,” he said. “Once you’ve got that accomplished, you celebrate with dancing and the festive meal.”
Hasidic religious ceremonies, including weddings, require the separation of men and women, often by a curtain.
“It’s not the Berlin Wall. It’s just to keep things modest,” he said.
Festivities start in the late afternoon when the two families will gather to greet one another. On the men’s side, the groom will share sacred teachings on marriage.
The bride will wear an ornate but modest white wedding gown. The men in the wedding party wear traditional hats and longer coats.
Minutes before the ceremony starts, the groom helps pull the veil over the bride’s face, echoing the story of Isaac’s marriage to a veiled Rebecca in the Book of Genesis. The veil symbolizes that the marriage bond goes deeper than physical beauty.
“When you cover the bride’s face, it says there is a lot more to the person,” Grossbaum said.
The marriage ceremony is done outside — rain or shine.
The bride and groom stand under a canopy called a chuppah. The bride and the families circle the groom seven times, creating a symbolic home where the couple’s joined spirit will dwell.
“God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. According to the Kabbalah, the structure of the world is built on the number seven,” Grossbaum said.
The groom places a ring on the bride’s finger. There’s no ring for the groom.
There will be seven blessings in Hebrew followed by the reading of the marriage document under the chuppah.
At the end of the ceremony, the groom breaks a glass under his foot. It’s intended as a way to remember the biblical destruction of the temple even in times of joy and hope for its rebuilding.
“From that moment, it goes from solemn to hugging, handshakes, kisses and songs,” Grossbaum said. “There is celebration and dancing, including the buffet and the bar.”
There will be no public kiss between the bride and groom. Instead, the newlyweds spend a few minutes alone to privately celebrate their union, perhaps share a kiss and hug and break their daylong fast.
The family will celebrate the wedding for a week. The couple plans to settle in New York.