Friday – Wedding Rehearsal

After a relaxed breakfast with David at the hotel we taxied to the Synagogue, an impressive building, located on the south side of the Winnipeg river. I was about to attend my  first Jewish wedding! I know, I know, it was only the rehearsal, and the real thing wouldn’t be for a couple of days; but there was a sense of excitement and firstness (!) in it for this Goy. We entered into the lower section of the Synagogue through a door at the rear of the building, followed the hallway leading from it, and found ourselves in an attractive foyer. Paintings, reproductions and photographs lined the walls, beneath them comfortable arm chairs, sofas and various other sitting arrangements. Opening from the hallway and foyer were other rooms of varying sizes; and each obviously having a different function.

Marin, Dominic & Me in the Synagogue foyer

Martin, Dominic & me in the Synagogue foyer

Martin was in the foyer, handing out neat red yarmulkes to all the men: it was expected that we would keep our heads covered while we were in the building. All the fellows in the wedding party: best man; groom’s men; fathers; pole bearers etc., wore red yarmulkes. Martin sported a white one–naturally, after all he was the groom! More of these red skull caps were laid out on a table by the entrance, available for any man in need of one. Many were, as can be seen in the audience photos: red domes popping up all over the Synagogue.

A flight of stairs led up from the foyer directly into the main entrance of the Synagogue, across from which were four glass doors leading into the Synagogue proper. This area was the foyer for the main part of the Synagogue, a much larger gathering area than the one we had been in downstairs. We were to rehearse here as it was where we would gather and wait to begin the wedding procession on Sunday afternoon. It was also where we would find ourselves Sunday morning, garbed in our finest, poised and ready to be photographed for the wedding photos.  A large dedication mural attached to a wall on the left side of the foyer held dozens of small brass plaques with the names of the dedicatees. As I stood studying it Catherine came over to show me where her plaque was –well nearly, we were called on to begin rehearsing before we finished our search.

Catherine and me at the Dedication plaque.

Catherine and me at the Dedication plaque.

A hallway to the right of the mural showed a glimpse of a large room where, we were informed, the post wedding reception would be held. Though much humorous  banter was voiced during the rehearsal it became quite tiring–no, not the banter– especially for the older participants. (Older! Who you talkin ’bout?) It lasted about 2 hours, with a lot of going in and out of the Synagogue’s wood framed, glass doors.

The Doors

The Doors

Formed into various sized groups we paraded back and forth through these  doors for most of the 2 hours. Through the doors, into the auditorium, down the aisle, up the stairs of the dais, back to the foyer, auditorium, aisle, up the stairs, back to the foyer, auditorium, aisle, up the stairs, back to the foyer, time after time after time, until eventually we got it right. The Rabbi was finally satisfied with our efforts and confident there would be no disastrous errors made when we passed through those same  doors in a couple of days. The entrances of each group of participants, those representing either the bride or the groom, or the brides parent’s and the grooms, the entire procession, was timed to recorded music. Each group or person had to attempt to make their entrance coincide with the right spot in the music, so that the last footstep and the the music would end together. The pole bearers, Simon, Dominic, Jonathan and Michael entered first. When they arrived at the bimah, (a platform in a synagogue holding the reading table used when chanting or reading portions of the Torah and the Prophets), each grasped a pole of the chuppah, (chuppah literally means a canopy or a covering, it symbolizes the home the couple would build together), then moving apart to preset positions, raised the canopy over the ceremony area. Then came the cantor, the rabbi, and the rest of the procession, following in rehearsed order. Chris Cowley, the best man, had not arrived from Victoria as yet, nor had Jonathan from Baltimore–they would receive a quick lesson on their positioning in the procession, and where they would stand on the bimah, before the actual ceremony on Sunday.

Martin supervising (?) the Chuppa

Martin supervising (?) the Chuppa

My newly acquired knee replacement was really complaining by the time the rehearsal was finished, and I was leaning rather heavily on my cane. Janet was also feeling the painful effects of the long standing: walking up and down the aisle of the Synagogue; climbing up and down the stairs onto the dais. What a relief when everyone, echoing the Rabbi, agreed that all was tickety-boo, and any errors that might occur would be forgiven by the guests at the ceremony. I doubt very much there were any errors; or if there were, no one noticed.

Published in: on March 22, 2009 at 8:45  Leave a Comment  

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