May 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Walking Down the Aisle With Bris Avrohom

It’s been a while since I have written and there are so many things I can and should be writing about in our community, but I just had to write about this past Sunday evening at Bris Avrohom’s 40th annual dinner and 34th year of gala weddings event in Parsippany. I have written in the past about Bris Avrohom and the work of Rabbi Mordechai Kanelsky and his rebbetzin Shterney, but the event this past Sunday night was unique for me…and I am happy to share this with our readers.

As some of you know, the annual Bris Avrohom dinner is not your typical dinner. In my prior fundraising days, I used to always tell my event honorees that the hallmark of a well-run and successful dinner is if the event felt like a true family simcha. If the nonprofit organization hosting the event was able to achieve this high madreiga, so to speak, then the honorees and sponsor organization would all leave happy and with only good feelings.

For Bris Avrohom, the annual dinner is, in fact, a real family simcha and a wedding all in one. And not just one wedding, but six weddings all at once! That’s a lot of simcha to go around.

Since starting The Jewish Link over six years ago, I have gone to three or four Bris Avrohom dinners and at each one, Rabbi Kanelsky always made sure that I was given some type of honor at one of the multiple chuppahs that were being conducted simultaneously. One year, I held a chuppah pole; another year, I was an “eid kiddushin;” I have also had the honor of saying the “bracha achrita.” I do not take these kibbudim (honors) lightly; they have all made a profound impression upon me.

I have always enjoyed meeting and speaking with some of the Bris Avrohom couples getting married halachically for the first time. At this year’s dinner, all of the couples were in their 60s, 70s or 80s and I believe all were from the FSU. In speaking with them and their adult children and younger grandchildren, I learned a bit about their lives and struggles, especially in coming to the US as adults. I could see that this second wedding did mean a lot to all of them and their families. You could doubly see it when one spouse or the other or their family members cried or shed tears before, during or after the chuppah.

So what was different about this year? First of all, my wife, Dena, joined me. Every time I have come home from past dinners, I have told my wife that she has to experience it with me at least once. But with younger kids and a son with special needs, it was not easy for both of us to leave Teaneck for Parsippany on a Sunday afternoon to get there in time for the 4:30 p.m. chuppah start. However, as our kids are now a bit older, and able to take care of their brother, the time was right this past Sunday.

Two hours before the event was due to start, I got a call from Rabbi Kanelsky telling me that I had to come early as he wanted my wife and I to serve as escorts for one of the couples. I wasn’t sure exactly what an escort did at a wedding, but it’s never easy to say no to Rabbi Kanelsky. When we got there, we learned that we would be literally escorting one of the six couples down the aisle to the chuppah, as a substitute for their parents. We shared the role with a wonderful couple from Boro Park, who we had the chance to get to know a bit. Where else but at a Bris Avrohom event would a combination like this happen?

Walking our assigned chatan and kallah down the aisle and then standing near them at the chuppah was a moving experience for my wife and I, especially as our children are beginning to become young adults and we have begun thinking about the next stages of life for them, and for us as well. How many times in our lives will we get to walk down the aisle like this? Not too many. I had a hard time keeping my eyes dry.

After the joyous chuppot ended and the couples were danced out, we all sat down for the first course and the event felt a bit more like a regular dinner, but that only lasted for a half hour or so as it was soon time for the first wedding dance, which was enjoyed by all. My wife especially enjoyed dancing with her kallah and the energy and mood of the weddings transformed literally everyone there. I have organized, planned and run many dinners in my life but few have come close to the energy and simcha that I felt at this one.

You will read and see more about the Bris Avrohom dinner in next week’s paper, I promise, and there will be pictures of all of the distinguished and unique honorees who attended, but for my wife and I, we left the dinner on a high, thinking about the wedding in which we just participated…and others to come in the future, perhaps.

Thank you Rabbi & Shterney Kanelsky for this unique evening! Keep up all that you are doing at Bris Avrohom!

By Moshe Kinderlehrer, co-publisher, Jewish Link of NJ

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