Peggy Kaufman was a happy mother of the bride at a recent wedding at Congregations of Shaare Shamayim.
“I was telling my friends at work that my daughter was getting married, and they said, ‘What?’ ”
Kaufman’s co-workers were stunned at the announcement because Jenna Kaufman is just 12 years old.
The Kaufmans are members of the synagogue, at 9768 Verree Road in Bustleton.
Jenna attends its Hei classes for 12- and 13-year-olds.
Andi Miller, the teacher, and Jacques Lurie, the synagogue’s executive director and religious school principal, decided in December to give the students a chance to perform a mock Jewish wedding.
Jenna and Gil Rosen, 12, became the bride and groom when their names were picked out of a hat.
The big day was Sunday, March 3.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Jenna said before walking down the aisle. “I’m nervous, but it’s worth it.”
The three months leading up to the nuptials were not only fun, but educational.
“We’re learning the traditions of a Jewish wedding, and everything that is necessary,” Jenna said.
“We learned how you get married and how everything works,” Gil said.
Jenna, a sixth-grader at Poquessing Middle School in the Neshaminy School District, wore a white gown.
“It’s really slow to walk in, but it’s so pretty,” she said.
Jenna and the other girls in the wedding party wore clothing donated by Madison West, owner of Yes to the Dress, a Huntingdon Valley boutique.
Gil, a seventh grader at Louis H. Farrell Elementary School in Bell’s Corner, said his bride looked “pretty.”
Gil and the other boys wore clothing donated by Bonnie Greisler, owner of the Mens & Boys Store, in Huntingdon Valley. He thought he looked “snazzy” in his black tuxedo and white vest and bow tie. Especially the bow tie.
“If I could,” he said, “I would wear one every day.”
Jenna said, “He looks good. He has good taste in bow ties.”
Gil was happy to play the role of the groom, his mom said.
“He’s been really, really excited since the beginning,” Bonnie Rosen said.
Rabbi Jean Claude Klein performed the wedding ceremony in the sanctuary. In addition to the blessings and readings, he used the word “pretend” on a few occasions so Jenna and Gil didn’t get married for real.
Jenna and Gil and the bridal party took part in all the wedding day traditions of praying, fasting, breaking their fast, singing, dancing, joking, clapping hands and signing a wedding contract.
The groom also placed a veil over the bride’s face, a custom that comes from the biblical story of Jacob, who was tricked into marrying Leah, dressed in a heavy veil, instead of his true love, Rachel.
At the end of the ceremony, Gil broke a glass with his foot, a reminder of the sadness in the world and the losses of the Jewish people, but also a representation that the bond between husband and wife cannot be broken.
“Others explain that this is the last time the groom gets to put his foot down,” one of the Hei students told the crowd.
Either way, guests shouted, “Mazel Tov!” at the breaking of the glass, and the celebration was on.
Everyone gathered in the auditorium for cake, soda, other food, entertainment and a toast from Rabbi Klein. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org