Why This Rabbi Performed a Wedding in Costume

Home News Why This Rabbi Performed a Wedding in Costume
Why This Rabbi Performed a Wedding in Costume

A Chabad rabbi tells the story behind the pictures

Record scratch
Freeze frame

Yup, that’s me. The Chabad rabbi dressed like Elvis reading a ketubah.

If you know me, you know that I am most often seen in the uniform of a typical Chabad rabbi: button-down shirt, dress coat and a black hat. When I want to relax, you may see me in a polo shirt and a pair of chinos.

Last week, however, I was seen in quite different attire: I officiated a wedding in a white Elvis getup, replete with jewels, chains, a Pompadour wig and gaudy white scarf. How did this all come to be, you ask?

This amazing story of Divine providence traces back nearly 20 years to when I first came to South Florida to serve as junior rabbi at Chabad of Southwest Broward in Cooper City.

Still in my teens (yes, I started young), I befriended a high-schooler named Darren. We developed a relationship that was something closer to that of brothers than that of a rabbi and congregant.

We hung out a lot, learned Torah and basically grew up together.

A few years later, once married, my wife, Malky, and I founded a Chabad center here in Florida called Chabad at Monterra.

Darren and I kept in touch.

When he got close to marrying a non-Jew, I had a very serious talk with him. It was intense. It tested our friendship, but I loved him too deeply to see him make a mistake as serious as that.

Thank G‑d, he went on to marry a Jew, and I looked forward to seeing him settle into a fine Jewish home. Sadly, that marriage ended in heartbreak.

Time passed, and Darren met a wonderful Jewish woman, Aimee. They asked me to conduct the wedding, and I gladly agreed.

As the time came for them to make plans, I realized that we had a problem. Neither Darren nor Aimee had terminated their previous marriages with a get—the formal bill of divorce required by Jewish law.

To further complicate things, neither of their erstwhile spouses was thrilled to participate in the process.

After many miracles, extensive negotiations and a long day at the Miami Beth Din, both Darren and Aimee were officially single and ready to plan their wedding (after the required 90 days had passed).

Overjoyed that we’d crossed such hurdles, I told Darren and Aimee: “You did what needed to be done for G‑d, so now I’ll do whatever you want now for a nice Jewish wedding.”

Wishing to surprise their friends, they decided to cut to the chase and actually get married at their engagement party. To further add to the fun, they asked me—the officiant—to dress up like Elvis. You know, to keep with the theme of those wacky hasty weddings.

“I am so happy to be at this simchah,” I told them, “that I will dress up however you want. The main thing is that you are founding a strong Jewish home together, based on love and devotion, to each other and to Torah values.”

The engagement-turned-wedding was an amazing affair. I was busy the entire time, wrapping tefillin on the men, including some who had never done the mitzvah in their entire lives. There was so much to do! I was glad I was joined by Peretz Mockin, with whom I had studied for rabbinic ordination, and who is also an old friend of Darren’s from those days. He joined us under the chuppah and sang the traditional baruch habah hymn. (He got to wear normal clothes.)

It was a wonderful closing of a long and loopy circle.

Was this something I ever imagined myself doing? No. But am I glad it happened? You bet!

L’chaim and mazal tov to Eliyahu Leibush and Hinda Chaika. May their lives together be filled with nachat, shalom and Jewish joy.

Source: https://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/5205453/jewish/Why-This-Rabbi-Dressed-Like-Elvis-at-a-Wedding.htm