Tag Archives: weddings

The Dress Fiasco That Almost Wrecked My Brother’s Wedding

4 Aug

On September 2, my brother and his wife will be married for 38 years. Their Labor Day weekend wedding was notable for several reasons: his was the first wedding in our immediate family; he got married on our youngest sister’s 21st birthday; the drama of the dress my Mom wore to the wedding.

Why would a dress be so memorable? Here is what happened. My sister in law chose orange, yellow and beige as her wedding colors.   My mother did not want to wear beige, as she felt it was too close to the bride’s white dress. But she could not find a dress anywhere, in a color she liked. She decided to have one made specifically for her.

She chose an orange/peach color fabric, with a lace inset at the top. As a teacher in West New York, she knew many people. Someone recommended a good dressmaker.   The dress was well made, but it looked absolutely horrid on my Mom. I can still see the dress, even though she never wore it to the wedding, just tried it on for us.

My husband and I, who were engaged at the time, arrived in New Jersey about four days before the wedding. That evening, my Mom tried the dress on for all of us. My Dad, my sister and I stared at the dress, without words. Mom looked horrendous. The color was WRONG! It took all color from her face. The style was also terrible. She looked like she was wearing a nightgown to go to bed, NOT a gown to wear to a wedding.

My sister and I were stunned.  We were silent for a few minutes. We actually had no words, no way to tell her how terrible this dress looked. Mothers and daughters have a connection,  from our silence, and probably the looks on our faces, she could tell. “It looks horrible, doesn’t it,” she asked…or something like that.

Then the tears started. The wedding was just four days away. What would she do? We had a major disaster on our hands!  My sister and I were up in an instant.  We would do something!

My father was somewhat calm. “DO not worry. You will find a dress.” He was positive. But he was also insistent that she no longer tried to save money.   This called for emergency shopping, and we knew the perfect store: Gail Browns, located on 58th and Bergenline Avenue.  (Thanks North Bergen friends for this info.) It was a high-class dress shop near by. A store that we never shopped at because the prices were way too high for us. We usually went to Little Marcy’s, occasionally Corduroy Village, but never Gail Browns.

The next morning, as soon as it opened, my sister, my Mom and I went to the dress store. With in minutes, the sales lady brought over a beautiful beige dress with a brown belt. It was the same exact color as the tuxedos the men were going to wear. Mom put it on. Stunning.

Grandmas. mom, sister and me

Mom in her lovely dress stands in the middle surrounded by my grandmothers, my sister and me.

Yes, there were just a few minor alterations. The hem had to be shortened; the belt loops moved; an extra snap on the bodice. But the seamstress knew it was an emergency situation. This was Friday. The wedding was Sunday. By late afternoon, the dress was complete. I believe they even dyed shoes for her!

The Dress Fiasco was over.  The discarded dress disappeared.  Never to be commented on ever again.

Mom looked wonderful at the wedding of her oldest child. She looks lovely in all the photos. There is a picture of my Mom and Dad dancing that I can still see in my mind. It was a great dress.

I missed Mom when I purchased the dress for my daughter’s wedding last year, 37 years later. She also got married on Labor Day Weekend. My Mom is no longer with us.  She did not get to go dress shopping for this wedding.

Instead, my daughter and I went shopping, and narrowed the choice to two dresses, which I brought home.   Later that day my sister arrived from New Jersey. I tried on both dresses. I took the advise of my sister and daughter who both loved one specific dress. They said it was me. The other dress, which was grey drained me of color. Another dress fiasco was averted. I wore the lavender dress that they loved.

Now my sister is facing this hurdle. Her daughter is getting married next June.   I know she realizes that I will be there to make sure that her dress is the perfect one.   There will be no tears four days before another wedding because the mother’s dress is horrendous. No more dress fiascos ever!

Another blog about shopping: https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/shopping-on-the-avenue-i-dont-mean-fifth-i-mean-bergenline/

A Traditional Jewish Wedding Created A Family’s Magical Wedding Ring

16 Apr

In traditional Jewish weddings, the marriage ring has to be completely round, made of gold with no embellishments. No diamonds or stones; just a plain gold ring.

When my maternal grandparents were married in 1925, they used such a plain white gold ring to ensure a blissful life. Both from Europe, they had no parents to be with them when they married. But they followed the traditions. First they got permission from my great grandfather. Then they married. My grandfather said the traditional words, “With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel,” when he placed the ring on my grandmother’s forefinger.

The ring adorned my grandmother’s hand for the first 26 years they were married. But in 1951 my mother and father married. My Dad was in the army and was being sent to Korea. My grandparents were not exactly happy about my Mom getting married while Dad was on leave. They were worried. Would he survive? Would everything be okay?

My parents got married while my Dad was on a two-week leave. They did not have time to find and buy a ring. So my grandparents decided that my Mom would get married using their ring. My father paid my grandmother for the ring, as it cannot be borrowed. It must belong to the groom. Thus my parents were married using my grandmother’s wedding band. Once again the traditional marriage words were said, “With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel.” My parents were now bound together.

My grandparents were married for over 60 years. My parents were married 59 years before my Mom passed away.

Mom made sure that the tradition continued. She felt that since the ring had been a vital part of two wonderful weddings and marriages, then it would bring mazel to others as well. She decided that her daughters would also have to be married using this ring.

Notice the two gold rings by my engagement ring, several hours after my husband and I were married.

Notice the two gold rings by my engagement ring, several hours after my husband and I were married.

When I married in 1980, I also was married in this special ring. My husband paid my mother one dollar for it. And even though I had another plain gold ring to wear, during the service it was my grandmother’s and mother’s ring that was placed on my right forefinger, and later moved to my ring finger.

My husband recited the same words to me, “With this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel.” And I, being a more modern bride, wanted to say something as I placed a ring on my husband’s finger. So I said, “My beloved is mine and I am my beloved. Ani le’dodi v’dodi li.” I wore the family ring, along with my gold ring, for several years until my sister was to be married. 

Selling the ring to my brother in law just before he married my sister.

And then, as my mother wished, my sister’s groom purchased the ring for one dollar from my husband and me. Once again the ring was placed on the forefinger of a family bride.

As grandchildren were born into the family, my mother asked that the ring be used for each granddaughter’s wedding. And of course we agreed. My sister and I also feel that the ring should be used for the grandsons’ weddings as well, if they want to use it.


My grandmother’s ring and the dollar bills each groom paid for the ring: my Dad, my husband, my brother-in-law.

The ring is now in my sister’s safety deposit box waiting for the next family wedding. With the ring are the dollar bills that my Dad, my husband and my brother-in-law all used to pay for the ring. Each dollar bill has the name of the bride and groom and the date of the wedding written on it. They are part of the tradition of the ring.

Soon the ring will come out of its resting place. It will be time to adorn the finger of another bride. I am happy that it will be my daughter’s wedding. The oldest grandchild, my daughter and her boyfriend recently announced their engagement. They plan to wed next summer, in 2016.   I hope that her groom will want to buy this ring to use for their marriage ceremony.  So that for the fourth generation, 91 years after my grandparent’s wedding, this magical ring will be used again.

I cannot wait to see my daughter and her groom stand under the huppah together.  I hope that they will use my father’s tallit for this special day. I cannot wait to see my grandmother’s white gold wedding ring slide onto the forefinger of my daughter. I cannot wait to hear the traditional words spoken by the groom. I wonder if my daughter will respond as I did, or in the way more modern brides do repeating the same words that the groom says to his bride.

I only hope that the magic of the ring continues and that my daughter and her groom celebrate throughout their married life with the joy of marriage that went through the lives of all the brides who have worn it.

A Strand of Pearls is Not Just Jewelry, It is a Circle of Love

6 Jul


To me wearing my pearls infuses them with love.

To me wearing my pearls infuses them with love.

I wear two strands of pearls to every family wedding. One strand, the longer one, belonged to my mother-in-law, Lee. She died when she was only 59, but I know that she would want to be at every wedding of her grandchildren and family members. The other strand, is slightly shorter, but has a lovely clasp. It belonged to my Mom, Fran. She also loved weddings and would want to be at every family wedding! Amazingly both strands of pearls have the same size pearls. And they look so good together.

Last night I wore the pearls to the latest family wedding, our niece. The pearls came up in conversation, and I told my brother-in-law, and another nephew and niece, why I wore two strands. My brother-in-law said, “I know they are here.” And my nephew and niece, who knew my Mom but not his own Grandma, said, “Your Mom would have loved the weddings.” And it is true.

It makes me feel as if these two wonderful women were there with us when I wear these necklaces. Pearls are so warm. And to me their glow sends off the warmth of love.

Pearls have much meaning in my family. My grandmother had opera length pearls. And my mother had them made into three necklaces, once for each of her granddaughters. As they turned 18, each girl was presented with the pearl necklace from my mother.

Unfortunately she passed away a few months before the youngest turned 18.   My Dad had us present the pearls to my niece in the hospital where my mother was soon to die. I know it was a difficult time for my niece. But I hope as time has passed she realizes how much her grandparents loved her and how important it was for my Dad, her Grandpa, that she get the pearls while Grandma was still alive.

My Great grandmother, for whom I am named, gave my Grandma a strand of pearls in Europe in 1932. They would have been mine. But another relative stole the pearls while she was in Europe. She always suspected who had taken them.

Over 40 years later he wrote her a letter. He had survived the Shoah, but his entire family had been killed, his wife and his children. He blamed himself. He believed that if he had not stolen the pearls, they would have lived.

I know this because I met him. I was living in Israel at the time. My Grandma Thelma wrote to me to meet up with “the goniff.” He was going to give me 400 lira…about $100 at the time. I was to take some of the money and buy myself something and give the rest of the money to my great uncle.

I met Zissel and he told me his story. He was a sad, sad man. He told me how his family had died and the horrible things that occurred to him. He told me how he had stolen the pearls.

“Your grandmother went into the bathroom to bath. When she came out the pearls were on the sink. I thought, she lives in America; she is rich. I can use these pearls more than she can. And I took them. Now everyone is dead, and it is my fault.” Zissel and I both cried as he told me the story. I was only 19 years old. The pain of that day lives with me. He believed if he paid my Grandma back, it would take away some of the guilt. I hope it did.

I began to visit him whenever I was in Tel Aviv. He worked in a bakery across from the giant shuk. I would meet him there, get a pastry and tea and talk to him Sometimes I would go back to his apartment.

When my parents came to visit me in Israel, I took them to see Zissel as well. His Yiddish was much better than his Hebrew. So when my parents came, he spoke mainly to them in Yiddish. He told more stories. And my mother and I cried along with him. I hope that his sad soul found peace.

The pearls were a bond between Zissel and me.

And so for me pearls, any pearls, have a story to tell. My mother-in-law’s
pearls and my mother’s pearls will be filled with joy as they experience only happy events. Every wedding will bring happiness to these pearls. And the sadness of the pearls that Zissel took will be wiped away.

The pearls my daughter and nieces have are also filled with love. And when I see them wearing my mother’s/grandmother’s pearls, their great-grandma, I know that the love of these two women are surrounding them.

A strand of pearls is not just a piece of jewelry, it is a circle of love.