The elaborately carved wooden chupah, or bridal canopy, was inscribed with these words: “I AM MY BELOVED’S … MY BELOVED IS MINE.” And on a Wednesday evening, June 12, Sarah Mangel married Henoch Rosenfeld underneath that beautiful chupah at Dave Hall Plaza Park across from the Dayton Convention Center. In the midst of a wet season in Dayton with record-high rainfall, the couple had fortunate timing. A brilliantly radiant sun came out as their union was blessed by Rabbis from around the world.
The rabbis came because this was a historic event. It was the first Chassidic wedding of someone raised in Dayton performed in the Miami Valley. Mangel is the daughter of Rabbi Nochum Mangel and Devorah Mangel, founders and directors of Chabad of Greater Dayton. Her groom is an ordained rabbi and the son of Rabbi Yisroel and Blumi Rosenfeld of Pittsburgh, Pa. His parents direct one of the largest Chabad organizations in the country, Chabad of Western Pennsylvania.
The spiritual foundation of this union began early, as Sarah and Henoch did not see each other one week before the ceremony. On the preceding Shabbat, he was called to the Torah; Sarah received songs and inspiration from her friends and family. Separate receptions for the couple were given directly before the marriage, and then Rosenfeld was escorted to the bride accompanied by singing of the solemn tune, “The Alter Rebbe’s Niggun.” He then placed the white veil over Sarah’s face.
Outside under the chupah, the bride and both sets of parents encircled the groom seven times, representing an eternal commitment. There is a reading of the kesubah, which is a marriage contract, and seven blessings are given. The ring was placed on Sarah’s finger, and Henoch broke the glass before the exclamations of “Mazal Tov!” The actual ceremony was performed by the bride’s grandfather, Rabbi Nissen Mangel, a renowned rabbi and scholar who came to the U.S. after the war.
“Until the marriage ceremony under the canopy, the bride and groom are solemn. The day of their wedding is the holiest day of their lives,” said Levi Simon, the youth and program director at Chabad of Greater Dayton. “Once the wedding ceremony is over, everyone bursts into song. It will be quite a celebration with music and dancing nonstop the whole evening.”
In keeping with orthodox tradition, the men danced with the men, and the women danced with the women. The reception afterward mirrors the seating arrangements at the ceremony. The men observed from the right side facing the chupah, and the women were seated on the left.
Sarah Mangel’s 19-year-old brother, Lazer, flew over from Israel for the occasion. He had only met the groom a week before the ceremony.
“We had a very awkward conversation. I told him to take care of my sister and that was about it,” said Lazer Mangel, who lives in Jerusalem. “It seems unreal that Sarah is getting married today because she’s only 20.”
Sarah Mangel studied in Toronto and Israel and did outreach work in the Ukraine, Florida and California. She teaches in New York, and also works with developmentally challenged children as part of the Friendship Circle. Henoch Rosenfeld received his ordination from the Central Lubavitch Yeshiva in Brooklyn, N.Y., and has performed outreach in Pennsylvania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. For now, their plans are to stay in New York for Rosenfeld’s post-graduate studies and Mangel’s job until they determine their future outreach plans.
Chassidic Judaism dates back to 18th century Eastern Europe and emphasizes the joyous, esoteric and mystical dimensions of Jewish observance as pathways to a meaningful life. Chassidic weddings are famous in Jewish culture for being intriguing, soul-searching, and entertaining affairs.
“We don’t consider it just a simple marriage between two individuals, but rather their marriage and their family can ultimately influence the community and the world at large,” said Rabbi Nochum Mangel. “They are building a home for goodness, kindness and education. There’s another resource available for the betterment of the world.”
Wedding guests received copies of “A Guide to the Chassidic Wedding” that were laid out on a table next to the kippot, or Jewish caps. Inside were these words: “Judaism teaches that marriage is a paradigm for the human condition — only in concert with a fellow human being can we become whole. The central element of that relation, the mitzvah, actually stems from a root meaning of ‘conjoining.’ Through shared commitment in love, the partners become real partners, joined together in natural and joyous unity.” A truly ‘beloved’ place to be.