09 April 2008

New York: Jewish Weddings, April 13

Is there anything more Jewish than a Jewish wedding?

No matter what community the bride and groom are from, the basics remain the same and the event has always been central to Jewish life throughout the ages.

Today, there's a whole lot of tweaking going on, from menus to videos. Jewish weddings are central to genealogists and family historians as they investigate this very social life cycle event.

A conference on "Objects of Affection: The Wedding in Jewish Life" will take place from 10am-9pm Sunday, April 13, at the Center for Jewish History in New York City, presented by the CJH and The Working Group on Jews, Media & Religion at The Center for Religion & Media (New York University).
Weddings are the most elaborately celebrated of Jewish life-cycle events. This is reflected in a wide array of customs (rituals, songs, dances), objects (canopies, rings, clothing) professions (entertainers, caterers, photographers), and works of cultural creativity (representations of weddings in plays, films, visual art). Some of these phenomena are centuries old and widely familiar; others are rare, highly localized, or very recent innovations.

Consequently, weddings provide abundant opportunities for considering the intersection of media and religiosity in Jewish life. We have invited today’s gathering of scholars, artists, and performers to select key examples of mediating the Jewish wedding - from its graphic representation in a medieval manuscript to avant-garde performance - and to discuss what their place in a rite that is central to Jewish communality and continuity reveal about Jewish life itself.

How do all these media practices enhance this ritual - or serve as opportunities for critique? What other aspects of Jewish life - gender, family, religious authority, economic concerns, aesthetic desires - do these wedding practices engage? How do the various media involved help articulate notions of spirituality, sexuality, memory, and religious tradition or provide a means for transformation?

Among the 14 programs:

  • Marriage Procession, Italy, 1465: “The way we were” Realia or fantasia?
  • Weddings in S. Ansky’s "The Dybbuk"
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral: Cartoons of weddings from the Yiddish press
  • Benya Krik (1927): How it was done in the USSR
  • Fiddler on the Roof: Sunflowers, bottle dancers and the invention of tradition
  • Wedding videos: Performing ritual for the camera
  • “Yidden” on YouTube: The mediation of Mordechai Ben David’s music and wedding dance moves
  • Wedding Menus: Nagamaki on the smorgasbord
  • Jewish Wedding Booklets: Tweaking tradition fr personal meaning

"Goodbye, Columbus" (1969) will be screened in the evening.

For more information on the speakers and programs or registration, click here and here.

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