I think Orthodox just means following the Torah, what it says. Every experience that I go through has a piece of my religion in it. It always connects back to my religion. I just live my life surrounded by God. The torah, the Jewish bible, begins with the letter Bet and ends with the letter Lamed. Together, they spell, “the heart.” This is the wedding story of Hadassa and Ze’ev, a young Jewish Orthodox couple from Baltimore. In two days, they will be married. Judaism is practiced by nearly 14.4 million people.
More than two-thirds of adult Orthodox Jews are married, compared to about half of other Jewish adults. Orthodox Judaism requires adherence to the ancient laws of the Torah in every aspect of life. Tradition is important. Um… yes is the answer. It’s a concept that may seem old-fashioned to the secular world, but here it’s a way of life as fresh as homemade challah, a special Jewish bread. When you do the sugar, as you pour it in, just have a little intention.
What do you think? Sweetness in life. Sweetness in life. I’m a person that really likes tradition. I think it gives a lot of clarity and it gives you connection. I think it’s very special to do what people did before you. I’m just watching you. It’s amazing. In two days, Hadassa is marrying a man she’s never held hands with, let alone kissed. We started dating this past June. Don’t freak out, guys. I’m a religious Jew, so I don’t really talk to guys until I’m ready to date. Okay Ze’ev. The big day! Two more days! Alright. As the big day quickly approaches, Ze’ev makes final preparations.
How often do women get their hair cut? Every four to six weeks. Yeah? Men and women don’t really talk too much unless they’re dating. We only date when we’re ready to get married. I knew from the first date that I wanted to marry her. It was definitely love at first sight, at least for me. You know, he’s pretty cute. For most Jewish couples, they don’t see each other the week before the wedding. You write notes, you send gifts but you don’t talk.
For Ze’ev and Hadassa, absence makes the heart grow fonder and serves as a final opportunity to work on themselves as individuals. The Tallit is a special prayer shawl worn by married men during morning prayer. The day before the wedding, Ze’ev’s father shows him how to tie it for the first time. Hadassa is so pure in her love for Hashem and her love for God. I see that and I want to be more, I want to do better, I want to be a better Jew. She’s so great. I hope there’s a lot of giggling in their marriage. Because that’s an important thing. (Producer) Do you giggle often together? Uh, sporadically. We made it! You got the whole suite to yourself. You want to take the card? According to the Jewish Orthodox faith, a couple’s wedding day is one of the holiest days of their lives and they are considered to be closer to God.
Today is Hadassa’s own personal Yom Kippur, or day of atonement, and she is freed of all transgressions and wrongdoings— something the people in her community are here to honor. Because of her divine status on this day, she bestows and receives blessings from loved ones. It’s here that she will receive Ze’ev and see him for the first time in seven days. But first, there are a few things he must agree to.
It says in the contract, “I will take care of her. I will support her.” All sorts of lovely things. But it does not say, “I will do the dishes.” Oh, okay. Under Jewish law, the ketubah solidifies the promises Ze’ev is making to his future wife. Laid to witness by more experienced generations. The bride and groom’s mothers break a plate to make it legal. Mazel tov! Ze’ev is ready to meet his bride at the bedeken, a traditional veiling ceremony. Ze’ev veils Hadassa as a sign of respect to her modesty and privacy during this holy time. He offers her a blessing and his heart. The wedding ceremony begins under the chuppah, a marriage canopy which symbolizes the home they will grow together. The bride then circles the groom seven times to break down any walls or barriers between them. I think my perspective on marriage definitely has to do with my faith.
The way we see people getting married is that their spouse is the other half of their soul. A shared sip of wine and a ring join them together. A broken glass seals the deal. When I get to hold my wife’s hand for the first time, I will be jumping for joy. Surrounded by their friends, family, and God, Hadassa and Ze’ev are married at last. And finally, they can have some alone time. Behind closed doors, Hadassa and Ze’ev spend their first 15 minutes alone in the yichud, or seclusion room, an act that symbolizes their newly married state. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s welcome Mr. and Mrs. Ze’ev and Hadassa Beleck. (Cheering) Although men and women dance separately to avoid touching the opposite gender, it’s a requirement for all to bring joy to the bride and the groom, a commandment the guests take very seriously.
After today, Hadassa and Ze’ev will have a special place in the community. What lies ahead is a series of firsts and they will rely on their faith to guide them. Today’s world is very topsy-turvy and morals are a little skewed. In Jewish married life, we gain from the wisdom of the past. And it doesn’t mean that we’re not innovative but it means that within the bounds of the past, we can move towards the future.