London – Orthodox Community Urged To Cut Expenses for Simchas

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    London – The strictly Orthodox community has been advised to “reduce expenses” on simchahs to help families in financial hardship.

    A letter from the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations suggests “no more than drinks and pastries” and limiting guests to family, close friends and immediate neighbours.

    By doing so, “the burden of expenses will surely be eased. The rabbinate considers it their most particular duty to care for the well-being of the kehilla.”

    The union offers a “low-budget” wedding scheme where members can invite 150 couples for around £7,000.

    Union executive co-ordinator Chanoch Kesselman said that many families felt obliged to invite a large number of guests, requiring the hiring of a hall, and spent unnecessarily on catering by providing a wide variety of food.

    “Because of the heavy financial burdens placed on the Jewish community due to the current economic downturn, the union rabbinate feels that this ostentation is misplaced and the correct approach for celebrating an engagement is a modest gathering of the immediate families concerned with just a few close friends held at the private home of the engaged.”

    Rabbi Avraham Pinter, principal of Yesodey Hatorah School, used the low budget scheme for his daughter’s wedding.

    “I have 150 employees and am active in the union and in shul. Everybody expected me to invite them. The scheme was a real life-saver. It meant I could tell people that I could only invite 75 guests from our side and the rest could come for the dancing.

    “It’s become much more popular to use this and I hope it will change people’s expectations.”

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    12 COMMENTS

    1. crazy as it is the european weddings are very frugal especially gateshead where you sit down by a wedding with a soggy and sorry looking piece of schnitzel in front of you.

    2. We need to go back to the days where four men held up a Talis with four sticks and the community made a smorgasbord from their own kitchens.

      Every community tries to cap spending but it doesn’t work.

      A friend was at a chasuna where the father of the kala died by the chupa — heart attach lo aleynu b/c of the financial stresses.

      Something has to be done. I wish i had answers.

    3. This would be a great idea and precedent but for the fact that the worst offendors and those who hold the most obscene simchas in terms of money and numbers of guests are the heads of the various chassidus. Over the past several years, there have been VIN stories regarding Satmer, Bobover, Vishnitz, Skere, etc. where the rebbe’s son, daughter, grandchild etc. was being married off and describing the lavish arrangements and food including special tents, a gazillion guests flying to or from EY, rented camels and horse-drawn carriages etc. At the very same time, these same chassidus were sending their schneurers to New York every motzi shabbos to knock on doors and scream gevalt for all the starving yesomim.

      If some of these “gadolei yisroel” would draw the line and scale down their own simchas, maybe their chassidim would follow. otherwise, there hypocricy will only proliferate and each group will try to outdo the others.

      • Vus farshreist dee! You have No yiddishe harts its a zchus to be at a rebbes great nieces wedding!! And any how what about all the yidden that make Parnuseh from these big weddings!!!! Should we go back to communist times where all are equal rich poor rebbes chassidim fat and skinny!!!!?

    4. In Gateshead you get quite a bechovedike seuda (speaking as someone used to lavish simchas in NW London) and the incredible thing is that it’s all prepared by the town’s womenfolk (essentially as a sort of co-op gemach).

    5. In the UK one can make a very decent chassunah for £10,000 all in,
      So if someone spends wants to spend more say £20,000 or more then he must pay
      50% of the excess value spent, to a central hachnosass kahlo fund and let some of the smaller caterers make some proper money.

    6. “Should we go back to communist times where all are equal rich poor rebbes chassidim fat and skinny!!!!?”

      One hundred per cent yes.

      There is absolutely no halachic need for hundreds of thousands of dollars (or pounds, or euros) to be spent on an over-extravagant simcha that has already killed off one poor bride’s father R”L, or for any family to be forced to bankrupt itself “to keep up with the Joneses” – or even the Jakobowiczes.

    7. Harvey:

      Perhaps you’ve never heard that money doesn’t buy happiness – or rather – kesef lo nikneh simcha.

      The joy provided at a wedding does not lie in the lavish feast or fancy hall, it lies in the celebration of the guests with the chattan and kalla. With true friends, that can be done without all of the lavish trappings.

      If by your statement “so what if it costs” you are volunteering to assist all of those who are not as fortunate financially as you are, more power to you – it’s a beautiful mitzvah. When my kids are old enough to get married, you can send me a check.

      If that’s not your intent, then your statement is an empty one. Volunteering that others go beyond their means as a mechanism for making a wedding is a recipe for disaster.

      Me, I plan on having beautiful weddings for my kids within my means, and trying not to rely on others to subsidize my parties. Additionally, I am teaching my kids that the important thing is not the day of the wedding, it’s the success of the marriage.

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