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Op-Ed: COVID Weddings

by Chaya B.

Mazal tov Chosson, Kallah, parents and family!

After dealing with the stress of dating during this pandemic, you got engaged. some were mature enough not to have a Lchaim, while others couldn’t contain themselves.
After weeks of backdoor shopping, for all the young couples necessities to start their life together, the wishful thinking and praying that by the time the wedding comes, this will all be past us and we can celebrate as “normal”.

But finally reality is setting in, real hard!It remains 100% illegal to have gatherings of more then 10 people. In addition, the local Rabonim strongly appose any minyan (unless each individual remains on his private porch). Schools opening, and definitely weddings containing more then IMMEDIATE family.

From the government’s perspective, under 30% of NYC has had the virus. True the numbers are decreasing, but it’s thought to be a direct result of the social distancing efforts. Therefore, it would be foolish, irresponsible and highly Illegal to allow gatherings, period!

Then comes the Robomins perspective.

True that we can’t know if one mitzva is greater then the next, but throughout history, Yidden sacrificed so much for two important fundamentals:

1)not to make under ANY circumstance a “chillul hashem” – desecration of G-D’s name through actions of his people
2) “Sakonas Nefashos” – to avoid endangering a jewish soul, even indirectly. To the extend that shuls and Yeshivos have been shut for half of a school year! Something that hasn’t been done ever! even during communist Russia.

As much as we “enjoy” turning a blind eye on the severity of this virus, it is extremely naive to assume that a wedding of only 50-60 people, won’t create a massive Chillul Hashem, And pose a real Sakkana to many people.

I fully understand the opposing argument; 1) “no one will know, itll be in a basement, tent, or upstate etc.” Are you seriousl?! Do you Genuinely assume that it is impossible for others to find out? Full parking lots, music can be heard by passersby, pictured on socail media and the list goes on and on) Even if your plan is 90% bulletproof, is it really all worth it? Can the Frum community afford another public shameful behavior? We have been the center of the news since this all began. Not to mention 770 eastern parkway is the 2nd most reported place In all of NYC for a lack of taking this pandemic seriously.

2) to address the issue of Sakkana: assuming all 50 attendees at the wedding have been tested negative for the virus, and have the antibodies, (let’s be real, that’s not rational, and many will lie not to be left out.) It is still undetermined if one can become sick with the virus (or a mutation of it) for a second time. In addition to the test being only 70% accurate. Let me translate that. Out of 50 people, 15 of them can still be infected and not know it.
But for the sake of this article, assuming everyone is “kosher” who’s to say that if the 10 people that Chavi came in contact with on your wedding day, at home, at the store etc. – before going to your wedding – they are not carrying the virus on their clothing, shoes etc. (assuming they dont actually have it themselves) passing it onto Chavi, or at least her clothing etc. clothing etc.

We are holding at 500 people coming in contact with the members of the wedding that day. Meanwhile, everyone dances together, eats together mingles together, and had a fabulous time at your simcha. Non of whome are aware that they have just come in contact with the virus. After the festivities are over, Yaakovs elderly parents need his assistance, he goes to their home, of course with gloves and a mask, however his clothing have droplets which he “picked up” at your wedding, exposing his parents to the virus and Rachmana Litzlan! The mere fact that this can be a result of your simcha, how would you feel then?

Is it really the right thing? to bring so many people together? Even for a possibility of someone dying?

Let’s not lose focus here. This situation is absolutely horrific. Every kallah spends 2 decades dreaming of the perfect wedding, with all of her family and friends in attendance. To shatter that dream is a lot easier said then done. But based on the above, to make a wedding with more then IMMEDIATE family (siblings only) is totally immature, irrational, illogical, and extremely selfish!If all parties involved would think about it LOGICALLY rather them EMOTIONALLY, they’d all come to the same conclusion. There are some ideas, although not full solutions. Such as giving the young couple $25,000 – the price of a grand wedding – to start their life together . This can be a tremendous help towards a down-payment for a home, a 2 month trip literally around the world, or to jumpstart an investment fund for their own childrens Chasunahs. Perhaps use the money to dedicate a new Sefer Torah, or expand your local shul?

I get it, we all do. it’s not a fair “exchange” for a grand wedding! and nothing possibly can be. but its something.

I do not have children in Shiduchim yet, nor am I a writer. I am simply an afraid mother of 4, a daughter, wife, and sister. I am just trying to look out for OUR own -and so should you.

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