Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Echoes of my family's Orthodox past?

On this night, perhaps we didn't dip at all
My late grandmother used to bake a cake for Pesach/Passover that had an exceedingly short list of ingredients--it contained nothing but ground walnuts, eggs, and sugar. Decades later, I learned about the minhag/custom of not eating gebrokts.  Even more recently, it occurred to me that my non-observant grandmother may have learned to bake a matzah-meal-free cake for Pesach because some member of the family was "non-gebrokts." A lesson to take from a piece of cake.

The origin of the pre-wedding "shmorg"?
It was the minhag of my family that one could attend a wedding ceremony to which one had not been invited on the strict condition that one attended only the ceremony, not the reception thereafter--costing the hosts money was absolutely forbidden. I was well into adulthood when I became aware that, on the one hand, this custom was far from universally accepted, with many people considering it rude to "crash" a wedding ceremony, and that, on the other hand, my family's minhag may not have originated with my family--if I understand correctly, this minhag seems to be accepted in certain Orthodox communities. I wonder whether the relatively-recent minhag of serving a smorgasbord/buffet before the wedding ceremony first developed in communities in which wedding-crashers were expected, as a way to give the non-invited guests a bite to eat.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As to weddings,can only share what I learned as kid. Generally, at Jewish weddings, the reception customarily followed the ceremony at the same location, and one flowed into the other. Thus, one did not appear unless one was an invited guest.

Goyishe weddings, on the other hand, generally occur at two locations. The ceremony is at a church, and the reception follows (often several hours later) at a completely different venue. Prevailing protocol permits anyone to attend the ceremony, invited or not. Only invited guests would later attend the ceremony (although many frequently now skip the ceremony).

To my knowledge, it was never appropriate to "crash" a jewish wedding.

As to bubbe's pesach cake, the recipe sounds pretty common. I don't buy the connection to gebrokts. I think its a fairly small group of folks who hold by it. It's a hasidic thing which would not have been the prevailing custom among most U.S. yids, per-war.

Tue Sep 04, 09:47:00 PM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I checked with an Orthodox acquaintance, just to be sure that I hadn't misunderstood or misrepresented Orthodox custom, and she told me that, at least in her segment of the community, a person could definitely attend a wedding ceremony even if not invited. Perhaps there's broad range of experience and/or opinion on this matter. Any other takers?

Wed Sep 05, 06:06:00 PM 2012  
Anonymous jdub said...

I don't know your orthodox acquaintance, but it is considered rude to attend a wedding to which you were not invited.

The smorgasbord (or cocktail hour) was created to give the INVITED guests some light food while waiting for the reception. It was not for uninvited crashers.

In Israel, it's different, but in the US in most modern orthodox communities, your behavior could lead someone to invite you to leave.

Mon Sep 10, 02:41:00 PM 2012  
Anonymous One datum of anecdotal evidence said...

Totally acceptable in my (Orthodox) circle. You don't stay for the dinner if you aren't specifically invited, but you can come for the pre-ceremony "shmorg" (not called that where I live, but I understand that it refers to the light refreshments and greeting of bride and groom at the kabalas panim and chassan's tisch respectively) and the chuppa itself with no invitation. It seems that often (though there are exceptions) the more "modern" the community, the more formal the celebrations are, so I suppose there are communities where this isn't considered appropriate.

Mon Sep 10, 10:24:00 PM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"It seems that often (though there are exceptions) the more "modern" the community, the more formal the celebrations are, so I suppose there are communities where this isn't considered appropriate.

Datum, thanks--you may have figured out why there's disagreement on this question. It's interesting that my non-Orthodox family somehow retained this not-so-Modern Orthodox custom.

Mon Sep 10, 11:05:00 PM 2012  

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