The sun glistened off the Fox River in late afternoon. I was seated with Patti in the second row of the groom section, at a picture-perfect outdoor wedding. The chuppah was constructed that afternoon by the uncles of both the bride and groom, with white birch cut down at the groom’s Adirondack family compound on Saranac Lake. The chuppah, a Jewish tradition, is open on four sides with a simple white covering. The white cloth represents family gatherings past and present, while the four open sides symbolize the future home of the newly wedded couple. Under the chuppah, the bride and groom would take their vows. Light breezes from the river reached the seated wedding guests, as we awaited the start of the ceremony.
It was my second visit to Chicago this year with Patti. On this trip, we were there to witness the marriage of my late wife Judie’s nephew, to a lovely woman from the Chicago suburbs. The wedding was in Geneva, Illinois at an idyllic event site situated on the Fox River, just west of the city. Friends and family came from Rochester, the home of the groom, and from around the Midwest on the bride’s side. Patti and I knew no one except the groom’s parents, but we managed to have a lovely evening meeting new people.
The significance of the chuppah in this wedding also represented the coming together of a Jewish-Christian couple. The marriage ritual was non-traditional, with readings from the Corinthians, of the New Testament, as well as a recitation of the Seven Blessings or Sheva Brachot, known as the heart of a Jewish wedding ceremony. A college friend of the bride, a graduate of the Yale Divinity School, served as the officiant. For me, the sight of the traditional Jewish chuppah brought back memories of weddings past, my own, my children’s and friends and family, some long gone. I thought how fast time moves ahead and yet, the future bears happiness. I am happy.