By Stephanie Burton
From the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony to the klezmer band with circle dancing, Jewish and non-Jewish students at Franklin and Marshall College had a rockin' time celebrating the mock marriage of students Stacey Blanek and Michael Price.
"The funniest parts of the night were the toss-up between the dress of some of the 'bridal family,' cutting and eating the cake, and the faces of the students when they were lifted up in the chairs on the dance floor," said F&M Hillel advisor Ralph Taber, who is also the associate dean of the college and dean of students.
After a student leadership conference held at Franklin and Marshall College last spring, Hillel and the College Entertainment Committee (CEC) decided to co-sponsor this unique event. Hillel planned the evening's events, while the CEC members provided funding and logistical support. The novelty of the event caused more than 100 students to attend, along with a number of college faculty and staff members. Jewish students who had never attended Hillel in the past were excited to be a part of the evening's events.
"I loved Dean Taber's big black hat, being lifted up on chairs during the dancing, seeing everyone decked out in their gaudy, 1980s Salvation Army dresses, dancing to 'Sunrise Sunset' with my new 'husband' and fake mishpachah [family], and having Michael gently smash a piece of wedding cake up my nose," Blanek said.
The mock wedding took place in the atrium of the Steinman College Center, a main gathering place on campus. A wedding invitation was printed in the college newsletter, and organizers placed a large banner in the atrium to publicize the event.
Hillel and the CEC aimed to make the event both educational and fun. Taber held the role of "rabbi," and while performing the ceremony, he provided short explanations about elements of a Jewish wedding. Prayers were read and translated, and Taber brought his ketubah (Jewish wedding contract) for people to see.
In addition to the klezmer band, students danced to their own "wedding mix" CDs. A variety of food was also provided at the event—New York-imported kugel, hummus, babaganush, tabouli, falafel and, of course, wedding cake.
Stephanie Burton is a senior at The George Washington University and an intern in Hillel's communications department.