CHERKASSY, Ukraine – For the first time in more than 70 years, the Ukrainian city of Cherkassy hosted a real Jewish wedding ceremony. Relatives and friends of the young couple arrived to celebrate the event, as well as many Jews from neighboring cities and towns.
The Jewish wedding is an age-old tradition dating back many centuries. When this religious ceremony is performed in a country where Jews have been deprived of their religious past, there are often nuances which acquire new meaning. Most Jews in Cherkassy had never seen a Jewish wedding until now, which probably explains the reason for the great interest displayed by the local Jewish community.
The Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, Azriel Chaikin, arrived especially to write the ketubah (marriage contract). Traditional rituals associated with this custom were held in the Synagogue of Cherkassy by the Chief Rabbi of Cherkassy and Chabad Lubavich emissary Dov Axelrod. The Chief Rabbi of Ukraine finished the ketubah, which was also signed by Rabbi Dov Axelrod and the Rabbi of the Beit Chana College, Moshe Weber as witnesses.
The freezing winter weather didn’t deter the Jews of Cherkassy, who stood in the synagogue yard breathlessly watching the wedding ceremony unfold. The groom and the bride, excited and happy, stood under the Chuppah, accepting congratulations from countless guests.
The bride, Lubov Tomashevich, a native of Lvov, received a Jewish education from Beit Chana College in Dnepropetrovsk, and soon after became a teacher in the Ohr Avner Jewish Day School in Cherkassy. The groom, Zeev Wolf Frenkel, was born in Leningrad. He is a postgraduate of Haifa Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), and believes it is a sign of good luck that their wedding is the first Jewish Chuppah to take place in Cherkassy since the 1930s.
The guests, who extended their best wishes to the newlyweds, expressed their hopes that Jewish weddings would soon be a regular tradition for the revived Jewish community of Cherkassy.
“I am happy and proud to attend this celebration in the Jewish community of Cherkassy”, said the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, Azriel Chaikin. “This is a wonderful event not only for the young couple, but also for the entire Jewish community of Cherkassy and for all Jews in Ukraine. Mazel Tov! Mazel Tov!”