The traditions of a typical Jewish wedding require the participation of loved ones and community, from the preparation through the party (or parties!) afterward. Though not every couple includes all these elements, it’s rare to avoid them all.
Many Maryland weddings (and anniversaries, for that matter) are represented in the JMM collections through programs filled with humorous stories, poetry, jokes, and personalized lyrics to popular songs, written by family members and friends.
Newlyweds Ann Burgunder and Leonard L. Greif, Jr. (right) and their family enjoy the “Lovenest Playhouse” program, “published by Friends of the Bride and Sympathizers with the Groom,” at their wedding reception, the Hotel Belvedere, Baltimore, July 24, 1940. From wedding album loaned by Carol Greif Sandler. JMM L2017.9.2
Ellen Levy married Arnall Patz on March 12, 1950. Their friend Rosa Rosenthal Kahn re-wrote the lyrics to songs like “Clementine” and “Alabama Bound.” Gift of Liz Moser. JMM 2009.26.9
Later that year, Ellen’s sister Ruth Levy married David Sanford Gottesman on Aug. 27, 1950. Songs in their program include “Once in Love with Ruthie,” sung to the tune of “Once in Love with Amy.” Louis L. Kaplan Collection, gift of Efrem M. Potts. JMM 1995.192.48
Ruth Ries Greensfelder married Henry Frank, March 28, 1916. Gift of Susan Merrill. JMM 2010.60.3
The American tradition of decorating the newlyweds’ getaway car is older than many people think.
For example, Gertrude Fried and Edmund Kahn of Baltimore found this genuine cowbell tied to their carriage after their December 22, 1907 wedding; the Kahns, in their turn, used the bell for the same purpose at later weddings of friends.
Gift of Janice Kahn Friedman. JMM 1991.35.8
The bag to hold the glass – both during the ceremony and afterward, as a keepsake – is often made or provided by a family member.
White satin bag with lace trim, made by Miriam Plaine Fox for her daughter Sonia’s wedding to Isidore Schnaper, June 1946, at the bride’s home, Baltimore. Gift of Isidore Schnaper. JMM 1992.112.1
Petit-point bag made by Carol Cohen Caplan for her daughter Amy’s wedding to Dr. Robert Abbott, held at Chizuk Amuno on December 2, 1989. On loan from Amy Caplan. JMM L2017.11.1
Planning a wedding often requires serious consideration of the guest list. Who should be invited, and whose list (the couple’s, their parents’) takes top priority?
How many people can comfortably fit within both the venue and the budget? How will the seating be arranged? Who gave what gifts, and have they received a thank-you note? This file box from the 1982 wedding of Toby Gordon and Bruce Kaup contains 108 index cards, organized alphabetically: the bride’s way of tracking invited guests, rsvps, and gifts.
Gift of Toby Gordon. JMM 2017.7.1
And Where Will They Sit?
Jonathan Greenstein-Pinkert and Tracie Gold-Silverman are getting married in December. As the wedding date approaches the couple meets with the wedding planner to talk about the reception on their big day. To be candid, their families do not get along that well. Grandma Pinky had a fight with Mrs. Gold over a Mah Jongg game. One of the Greenstein uncles doesn't like the way one of the Silverman uncles keeps score on the golf course. Jonathan and Tracie just want everyone to get along better - but know that the need to be careful about how all the guests are seated.
Can you help Jonathan and Tracie make the perfect seating chart?
The variety of family relationships found on wedding invitations is a testament to both strong family ties, and the circumstances in which many of Maryland’s young Jewish people lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Often, one or both of the bride’s parents, the ‘traditional’ sponsors of brides, were either still in Europe, living in other US cities unable to afford to travel, or deceased.
“Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Kirson request your presence at the marriage of their cousin, Miss Lena Frank, to Mr. Joe Goldberg,” December 27, 1906 at Fink’s Hall, Baltimore.
Printed in English and Yiddish. They were married by Rabbi Schepsel Schaffer of Shearith Israel. Gift of Philip and Helene Sherman. JMM 1989.132.3
“Mr. & Mrs. M. Baer, Respectfully solicit your company at the marriage of their Sister Rebecka Isaacs to J. G. Chessler,” December 13, 1885, at 145 Aisquith Street, Baltimore.
Gift of Temple Oheb Shalom. JMM 2004.97.83, MS163/192