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Inside the University of Minnesota’s biggest springtime wedding

Chabad hosted a mock Jewish wedding complete with broken dishes and drinks all around.
Attendees hold up the the chuppah during the My Big Fat Jewish Wedding event at Day Block Event Center downtown on Thursday, March 22.
Image by Max Ostenso
Attendees hold up the the chuppah during the My Big Fat Jewish Wedding event at Day Block Event Center downtown on Thursday, March 22.

An animated DJ, a candlelit aisle and 150 dapper, cocktail-toting college students made for the wedding of the semester. 

Eli Singer, junior at the University of Minnesota and Lilly Shapiro, a sophomore, exchanged vows Thursday amid giggles, high fives and cheers from the wedding-goers.

Chabad, the center for Jewish student life on campus, hosted a mock wedding in downtown Minneapolis at the Day Block Event Center to teach Jewish and non-Jewish students about the faith’s traditional wedding ceremony.

 The groom met his bride-to-be through Jewish organizations on campus, and, as luck would have it, they were both chosen to stand beneath the chupah, a wedding canopy symbolizing the new home they will build together.

Rabbi Yitzi Steiner, director of Chabad, officiated the wedding with his wife by his side, while their children sprinkled flower petals down the aisle. 

“It’s pretty official, I was talking to the Rabbi, making sure he didn’t actually marry me accidentally … that would be bad,” Singer said. 

The evening began with a crash when a plate was thrown against a wall, not as a result of feuding in-laws but rather as part of a Jewish tradition. 

The plate is broken to remember the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and to remember those who are in pain and suffering, said Molly Wertheimer, president of Chabad.

Rabbi Steiner narrated each component of the ceremony from the ketubah, a marriage contract signed by both parties, to the Sheva Brachot, seven blessings given by friends of the couple.

The end of the ceremony is also signified by a crash when the groom steps on a glass, symbolizing that even in times of great happiness, the destruction of the Holy Temple is to be remembered. 

Once the ceremony ended, the real fun began with catered food, a dessert table and, yes, an open bar. 

The dancing at the reception was just as meticulously orchestrated as the ceremony itself, with the men to one side of the room surrounding a seated Singer, and women on the other, surrounding Shapiro.

The guests danced in rotating circles around their newlyweds and then lifted their seats, throwing them into the air in a traditional dance known as the Horah. 

“A wedding is always very fun, and this one is no exception,” Rabbi Steiner said. 

This event was one of the largest Chabad has hosted, and it was a learning experience for everyone, especially non-Jewish attendees, Shapiro said. 

“As people go through college, you understand and develop your Jewish identity a lot more,” Singer said. 

While most students are a ways away from walking down the aisle, Singer said it is important for many Chabads to marry other Jews and continue their traditions.

Chabad covered all the bases, including the essential wedding hashtag, perfectly titled  #EliandLillyTieTheNot. 

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