Sunday, October 31, 2010

Religious Rites: Weddings

The topic for the 99th Carnival of Genealogy is:  
Religious Rites: Organized religion played a large part in many of our family histories. Virtually all religions have their rites/ceremonies. Has your family participated in any of these rites?
There were several things I considered discussing - or, in most cases, discussing again.  I've written a lot about how religion has intersected with my family history.  At the bottom of my blog's sidebar is a poem I wrote in 2008.  The second stanza:

As I research ancestral lines I discover
some ancestors celebrated Hanuka,
others Christmas, and still others
the Green Corn Ceremony;
Jewish, Methodist Episcopalian,
Puritan, Christian Scientist, Mennonite,
Choctaw, and Cherokee.

Weddings are perhaps the most joyous of all religious rites.  If my recollections are correct, across four decades I have attended twelve, including seven involving family members. I have had a role in several of them - I've read from a prayer book, been a chuppa (canopy) pole holder, witnessed a Ketubah (marriage contract), and was a groomsman more than once. The wedding location has usually been at a church or synagogue, but two have been held outdoors.  All twelve of the ceremonies reflected the religious beliefs of the bride and groom in some fashion.

As it is I suspect with most.  Perhaps, sometimes the ceremony reflects more the religious beliefs of the parents.  When there are differences, some will bow to the dictates of family harmony.  Most of my European Jewish immigrant ancestors were Orthodox in their faith, but their children moved towards Reform in the early 20th century.  For example, I know that my great grandparents Herman and Annie (Blatt) Feinstein were married by the Chief Orthodox Rabbi of St. Louis, but they raised their children at United Hebrew Temple, a Reform congregation.

My other paternal great grandparents, Barney and Bertha (Cruvant) Newmark raised their children in the Reform tradition as well, at B'nai El.  I haven't located their marriage certificate yet. (I believe they were married in East St. Louis)  However, I know the Cruvants were Orthodox, and I also know where Barney's older brother, Sol was married.

I wrote about his marriage to Sarah Nathan in a post three years ago. August 31, 1902. Sol and Sarah were married in the Great Synagogue of London, England.  Here's a copy of their marriage certificate, retrieved from the British General Register Office:

In the post I wrote three years ago I researched every name and other piece of information I could find on the certificate.  I won't detail everything I learned -- you can read the original post.

One of the signatures is that of the Cantor, or Hazzan, Marcus Hast.  He likely led the ceremony.  He was born in Warsaw, Poland, not far from where the Newmark family originated.  I believe Sol's parents may have been familiar with Hast while he was still in Poland.  In 2007 I wrote:
The scores of Hast's compositions are available for download, and there is a section devoted to wedding music, so the music that was likely played at the ceremony could be duplicated.
I provided the link, but the scores are in the public domain, so here they are for two traditional songs welcoming the bride and groom underneath the chuppa.

Translation of the lyrics for Mi Adir:

He who is mighty above all, He who is blessed above all, He who is great above all, He who is distingui​shed above all, may He bless the groom and the bride.


Susan Clark said...

Thank you so for mentioning the cantors. There is a rich tradition of them in orthodox/eastern rite Christian churches as well. I'd forgotten, but your mention and the glorious music reminded me. Something new to research!

J.M. said...

Lovely post. Enjoyed reading it.