Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hooting at the Huppa תרועות ליד החופה: וֶטוֹ

Overall, I prefer Israeli (Jewish) weddings to American Jewish ones, mainly because of the relaxed informality. However, there’s one practice that crosses the line from casual to inappropriate: the widespread practice of whooping as the groom -- and increasing in volume with the bride -- walk to the chuppa.

In discussing it with my kids, one of them brought up its origins in Middle Eastern cultures where the women ululate, thus according to said daughter, labeling me “racist”. Truthfully, I hadn’t even made this connection; although I believe she’s correct about the origins of the practice, I humbly disagree with her conclusion. She blames my bias on my having grown up in the US, where brides (and grooms, and endless maids and groomsmen) proceed down the aisle in silence except for any music being played; and where to cheer or applaud would be considered wildly out of place.

In that sense I agree. However, while in the wider sense, it’s indeed a cultural bias, disliking it doesn’t make me racist, or even bigoted; it simply means I’m biased in favor of my own cultural (non)practices, which I believe is OK. In my perception, ululating, like strapless bridal gowns, hints at the act that will supposedly be taking place post-nuptials, which to me places it in the realm of prepubescent bathroom humor, or frat boy humor, neither of which has any place surrounding the solemn ritual of kiddushin [holy matrimony].

To me the whooping says: Here we are, dressed in our best, gathered to witness this couple’s union -- and suddenly, voila! It’s a sports bar! Or a soccer stadium! Or a construction site! Woot! No, just no. Call me uptight -- even pearl-clutching -- but I find it objectionable.

But besides my personal bias, which is admittedly subjective, what about the objective fact that at many a wedding, the couple has asked one of the guests to play and / or sing a particular song as they’re led to the chuppa? Your friend(s) or family member(s) have graciously obliged, presumably rehearsing so it sounds lovely, right? They begin their piece, everyone’s in the moment…here comes the groom…and suddenly we’re at a rock concert or a World Cup game.

Certainly not every foreign practice is worth importing. For instance, I dearly hope we never import the arrangement wherein the couple stands with their backs to the guests, so -- yea! -- I got all dressed up to see…the rabbi’s face! Immigrants, feel free to check that practice at the door. But whooping as the bride and groom walk to the chuppa is a practice to wish I’d dearly love to say שלום ולא להתראות good riddance!