Orphan Couple Holds “Black Wedding” in Cemetery to Ward off Plagues

March 24, 2020

2 min read

Last week, a young couple found a unique method of getting married while adhering to Health Ministry restrictions limiting the number of guests: they held the wedding in a cemetery and most of the guests were six feet distant from each other and underground.

A wedding is one of the most important events in a Jew’s life and many Orthodox couples are risking legal repercussions by holding their wedding despite the current prohibitions against public gatherings larger than ten people. 

Last week, Two orphans held their joyous occasion in Bnei Brak, Israel in a cemetery.

The unusual event was actually a powerful Jewish tradition referred to in Yiddish as a “Shvarze Chasene” or “Black Wedding.” According to the tradition, both the bride and the groom must both be bereft of both father and mother. The community pays for the wedding as well as furniture for the new couple. Performing the ritual is considered a way of dispelling plagues and epidemics.

The Jerusalem community records noted one such ceremony in the winter of 1909 when the Yemenite community was suffering from a cholera epidemic that was especially hard on the children. The epidemic grew worse and the people were at a loss to find a solution. The Ashkenazi community told them of their tradition to marry off two orphans in  a cemetery. The Yemenites arranged for such a wedding to take place on the Mount of Olives. 


Anash website cited the book “Treasure of All Customs” to explain the reasons behind the custom.

“It is a combination of Tzedakah (charity), by marrying off poor orphans, and doing it in the cemetery, to show people they have no reason to fear the grave; On the contrary, everyone is dancing in the cemetery, and by lowering the fear of the plague – it helps one survive.”

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