Only bouquets at the first Chuppah post lockdown

Not many people received a bouquet of flowers from the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

One couple did. The young man had resisted getting married. Who could blame him? He had seen the horrors of the Holocaust and had challenges to his faith. What world would a child be born in?

Interviewed later, he said: ‘’[The Rebbe] Did not follow my protest, he understood it, but he didn’t follow it”. In one correspondence the Rebbe went further: “You must make every effort to tear yourself away from your memories and adapt a lifestyle with a stable structure – married life – establish a Jewish home and Jewish family. That will certainly bring about Hitler’s true downfall… “

Eventually, Nobel laureate Elie Wisel got married to his wife Marion, at a lovely ceremony in Jerusalem. The Rebbe sent them a large bouquet.

Covid-19 has been a tragedy, we do not compare tragedies and the holocaust will remain the worst of its kind. But many have highlighted that humanity has not experienced anything like the present times, since war-time. The world order has shifted. People are afraid, there have been dark days and uncertainty lies ahead, with it apprehension about the future.

On March 17, pre Lockdown, I wrote about the eerie feelings I experienced officiating at the first Covid funeral at Bushey cemetery.

Fast forward 104-lockdown-days-later, this Sunday, G-d willing, I excitingly will officiate at the first London Beth Din sanctioned Chuppah at St. John’s Wood Synagogue, the first to close in the country. It will be different with the new guidelines, no singing, dancing or eating. But hope replaces eeriness.

Bris’s and baby naming’s have been celebrated and boomed over zoom; this Shabbat Bar & Bat Mitzvot are back in Shul. Spreading light and hope in what has otherwise been a lonely time. We pray that all those who need blessings receive it speedily.

Health and safety precautions and guidelines are now being observed; it is a time to look for a spouse, propose and to have children.

As the Rebbe expressed: structure and stability are highlighted in the blessing of establishing a Jewish home and a Jewish family.

The greatest sign of faith, hope and excitement for the future is being part of it, starting now.

Let the bouquet orders begin. It’s the only thing allowed beyond 30 guests, for now.

About the Author
Rabbi Mendel Cohen serves as Rabbi at The Saatchi & St Johns Wood United Synagogue.