A truly fun mitzvah

Rejoicing with the bride and groom

By Chandrea Serebro

If you peek into a Jewish wedding hall, don’t be surprised to see a circus-like dance floor full of masks and feathers, fire and dancing. The mitzvah of gladdening the bride and groom is found in the Talmud, and it has become a much-loved practice at Jewish weddings. Some people have even made it their business to rejoice with bride and groom.

The Kollel Dancers

Ivan Ziskind was dancing at a wedding over 40 years ago, doing his three-legged-man routine, when an unknown woman approached him to ask him to perform at her daughter’s wedding. He gathered together some talents – which would grow and change over the years – and there began the Kollel Dancers. David Aronovitz, well-known for his fire hat routine, and later David Osrin, an accomplished drum major, long-time dancers Hillel Cohen, who went on to learn a juggling act from a circus, and Ilan Sommer, and many more over the years. “For 40 years we have danced at close to 4 000 weddings, raising over R2 million for Kollel Yad Shaul, flying all over the country to perform, purely to rejoice with the bride and groom,” says David Aronovitz. “We would only dance if the chosen and kallah really wanted us to, and they always loved having us up there as we really got the energy going. We had lots of fun over the years, and overall I think we succeeded in making many people very happy, kicking off their weddings with an authentic Jewish theme,” he says. “We have danced at people’s weddings and then gone on to dance at their children’s weddings.”

“I love being part of the Kollel Dancers. It makes me feel fulfilled, proud, and privileged. This is not a business, it’s a mitzvah – to gladden the hearts of the bride and groom, making them feel like a king and queen on their special wedding day. I feel so lucky to be a part of this mitzvah,” says David Osrin. “I’m not a big scholar, but I learned about the story of Eliyahu HaNavi in the Gemara, who pointed out two people in the market place and said that they would receive a portion in Olam Haba (the World to Come) because they were comedians who would make others happy and bring smiles to their faces. So that is what I’d like to do, make brides and grooms happy on their wedding day. I have a whole suitcase full of lots of little props like hats and umbrellas, masks, flags, and various colourful and spectacular stuff to use. It really makes the simcha colourful and fun.”

The Dancers have had lots of different acts designed to get the vibe going and the guests involved in the business of rejoicing with the chosen and kallah. “We’ve always tried to involve as many people as possible in the dancing.” The routine is highly-skilled, fast-paced, and comedic, and it is sure to make anyone smile and want to bop along. The acts include the hat-on-fire-dance, a hose-pipe tune, a hidden paper streamer act, thumbs up act, spinning a mace, the chicken dance, ballet dancing, juggling, acrobatics, balancing acts, Chassidic dancing, as well as gimmicks – “just funny cute stuff like shining the Chosson’s shoes and giving him a haircut.”

What is really important with all this shtick is the timing – judging when to come into the circle and do an act and for how long to do it. Each act is short and they have always been careful to do things one at a time to grab the attention of the guests and ensure that they can enjoy it all. “One funny episode I remember is with one of our tricks, the three-legged dance. One time we accidentally left the leg sticking out of the boot of the car and people thought we had captured someone and put him in our boot,” says David Osrin. David Aronovitz recalls the time when someone thought he was on fire and tackled him to the ground, nearly causing him to burn his face.

For more info, contact David Aronowitz: 083 292 1342

The Kollel Dancers would like to acknowledge the work of Barbara Fine, who recently passed away, and who looked after their bookings for many years.

Sparks of Simcha

“Being able to contribute to the joy of another person’s simcha is something extremely rewarding. Part of the mitzvah of hachnosas kallah (which literally refers to helping poor brides get married) is making a couple’s simcha as special as possible,” says Chedva Lichtenstein, who started a wedding shtick (things used to entertain the bride and groom) gemach, Sparks of Simcha.

“It all started when it was my sister’s wedding, and my family purchased arches so that she could run through them as she entered the hall at her wedding. They made it so beautiful, and we wanted to utilise them further than just that one night. So people began to borrow them from us. After some thought, my goal was to expand this concept by having additional items to lend out, as well as creating a central place for one to pick up all their shtick. The items that we provide are aimed at specifically making the bride and grooms wedding as leibedik (lively) as possible from the moment they enter the hall to the last round of dancing,” says Chedva. The shtick enhances the simcha at the event, and the goal is to make having shtick at the wedding convenient and hassle-free by providing ready-made items for families to hire, including arches, parachutes, maypoles, skipping ropes, and party poppers.

For more info, visit: www.sparksofsimcha.ml or email: sparksofsimcha@gmail.com

Esti Wainer

Esti Wainer runs a shtick gemach from her store room, filled with exciting and interesting things which can be used for any simcha – like ribbon maypoles in different designs and colours, parachutes, super long skipping ropes, hats, sashes, necklaces, masks, ties, funny alice-bands, glow sticks, arches to walk through with lights attached, balloon sticks, and much more. “The whole idea of my shtick gemach is to enhance the simchas of others – whether it is a wedding, bat mitzvah, or bar mitzvah. It benefits the wider community since when one makes a simcha there are so many other expenses involved and therefore anyone can feel free to contact me and take whatever they want to use, free of charge, for their simcha. Instead of people spending a whole lot more of money, I have a whole storeroom ready and waiting for them.”

“My gemach started over seven years ago. Since I lived in a flat at that stage and I didn’t have enough space to store it all, it wound up in an extra cupboard in my parents’ home – which was eventually overflowing. When I moved to a house, I relocated the gemach to my store room, which is now filled to the brim with fun and happiness. I run this gemach because I’m so passionate about this special mitzvah. It enhances my life and it is so wonderful to give to so many different people from different walks of life. It is such a wonderful thing to do chessed and assist people in such an area. I have grown and learned so much from so many people through my special gemach.”

To contact Esti: estiwainer@hotmail.com

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