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They were denied Jewish weddings in the Soviet Union. So these 3 couples just got married again.

BOSTON (JTA) – Veiled brides holding white bouquets; a gold-colored chuppah; the signing of ketubahs, Jewish marriage contracts; lively Jewish music wafting through a social hall as guests danced the hora.

It had all the telltale signs of a traditional Jewish wedding. But the three couples were already married — and had been for a collective total of 125 years.

The event on Wednesday was an opportunity for three Ukraine-born couples to have the Jewish ceremonies they could not have when they first wed, when Jewish practice was forbidden under communism in their country.

“It was my dream for many, many years and dreams come true,” said Elisheva Furman, who first married her husband Fishel in Ukraine 50 years ago.

Held by Shaloh House, a Chabad Lubavitch organization in Boston that serves Jews from the former Soviet Union, the event was also an opportunity for Chabad rabbinical students to practice officiating at Jewish weddings.

Shaloh House launched a rabbinical training institute in 2021, after Rabbi Shlomo Noginski, an educator at the school, was stabbed eight times outside the building in a vicious attack that jolted Boston and especially its Jewish community.

“This wedding ceremony is a victory of love and kindness over oppression and hate,” said Rabbi Dan Rodkin, director of Shaloh House, in a statement. “It is a testament to the strength of the Jewish people and the resilience of these Soviet-born couples, who want to celebrate their union in accordance with their faith and heritage.”

Rodkin himself grew up in Russia. The Chabad movement, which is especially strong in the former Soviet Union, where it was born, has sought to reach Jews from the region whose practices and connection to Judaism were attenuated by living under communism. Shaloh House offers a school, synagogue and community center all focused on Boston’s substantial community of Russian-speaking emigres.

Growing up, despite antisemitic repression, Elisheva and Fishel Furman both said their families maintained a strong Jewish identity and privately observed Jewish holidays. But “it was dangerous” to show their faith in public, said Elisheva, the grandmother of four. So when they got married, they did so only in a civil ceremony.

A couple prepares to step on a glass, a symbol in Jewish weddings, after their Jewish ceremony in Boston, Feb. 7, 2023. (Photo by Igor Klimov)

Their religious ceremony and the two others that took place Wednesday, individualized for each couple, stretched for more than four hours and featured a festive meal and desserts including traditional Ukrainian and Russian foods.

The event took place in the lead-up to the one-year anniversary on Feb. 24, of Russia’s invasion into the couples’ homeland that is under ruthless bombardment that is devastating Ukraine.

Rimma Linkova, who’s been married to Alexander Linkov for 40 years, and one was of the other couples being married, has a cousin still in Ukraine. They talk regularly, she said.

“It’s almost one year of the war and it’s still not ended. It’s very difficult. It’s dying for no reason.” Linkov said.

The third couple was Sofya Hannah and Gedalia Gulnik, who used their Hebrew names.

Yelena Gulnik said she was thrilled to see her parents have a Jewish wedding, something she said her father was initially hesitant to do after so many years of marriage. The mother of three, whose kids attend Shaloh House’s day school, was born in Odessa and came in 1994 with her parents to Boston when she was 12 years old.

“My parents never had a chuppah, they never had a religious ceremony. They were not familiar with many religious Jewish traditions,” Gulnik said. “But it was an amazing opportunity. I don’t think they would have ever done this if Rabbi Rodkin hadn’t offered.”

Being at a wedding for her grandparents is “a little weird since you don’t see it every day,” Yelena’s oldest daughter said. “But it’s certainly exciting.”

Among the attendees were New England Patriots Jewish owner Robert Kraft, and his wife, Dana Blumberg, who themselves were married in November. Kraft, whose Campaign to Fight Antisemitism philanthropy launched in 2019, made a $250,000 donation following the attack on Noginski that helped start the rabbinic program.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft dances at a wedding ceremony for Ukrainian couples who did not have Jewish weddings in their native country, Boston, Feb. 7, 2023. Rabbi Shlomo Noginski is on his left. (Photo by Igor Klimov)

“When I saw Rabbi Noginksi getting stabbed in my hometown of Boston, it hurt me,” Kraft told JTA at the wedding.

“This hit close to home, which was shocking to me,” he elaborated in an email response to a question. “It’s an important reminder that antisemitism and hate happens everywhere, even in a community like ours.”

“Since the attack, I have been moved by how Rabbi Noginski has used this horrible incident as an opportunity to raise awareness of the prevalence of antisemitism and the need to stand up to all acts of hatred,” Kraft wrote. “He is a real hero, who not only saved lives that day, but continues to use his experience to educate others.”

Noginski’s personal story has struck a chord for many. As a young man growing up in St. Petersburg, he and his mother experienced antisemitism, eventually leading them to move to Israel. He and his wife, who at the time of the attack had only recently arrived in Boston, have 12 children.

He has added his voice beyond Boston, speaking in Hebrew at a Washington D.C. rally on antisemitism in July 2021, less than two weeks after the attack. His alleged attacker was arrested but has not yet been tried.

But while the attack was in the background at the wedding event, it was not the main focus as the families celebrated together.

“The wedding has enormous meaning,” said Dmitry Linkov about his parents’ ceremony.

He was 5 when his family left Kyiv and settled in Boston. They lived secular lives when he and his younger sister was growing up, he said, but he and his wife, active in Chabad in Chestnut Hill, now embrace more religious practice and observe Shabbat and keep a kosher home.

“What my parents have done tonight will be passed on for generations. It’s a blessing for our future generations,” Dmitry Linkov told JTA.

He hopes the Jewish wedding ceremony inspires other Jews from the former Soviet Union who fled persecution.

“They are celebrating for a nation,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

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The post They were denied Jewish weddings in the Soviet Union. So these 3 couples just got married again. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Obituaries

Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN

Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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Jewish community holds solidarity rally November 25

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A number of speakers addressed the crowd of 800, including Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation; Members of Parliament Ben Carr & Marty Morantz; Yolanda Papini-Pollock of Winnipeg Friends of Israel; Paula McPherson, former Brock Corydon teacher; and Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation.

Ben Carr

Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crfREGNRKfg

Marty Morantz

Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks: https://studio.youtube.com/video/zHzC-iaqivg/ed

Gustavo Zentner

Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3M_cCYuLgs

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