Today is August 23, 2019 -
Newlyweds Laynie (Ginsburg) and Joshua Heller, Lisa (Silver) and Peter Reitzes, and Shoshana (Wees) and Corey Friedman may have chosen different cities to begin their married lives, but there was no question about where they all wanted to tie the knot: here in Omaha — the brides’ hometown — at Beth El Synagogue.
Tradition and family history played roles in the couples’ decisions about where to exchange nuptials, and they all were enthusiastic to reminisce about and share details about their weddings, which all took place last year.
“We absolutely loved having our wedding at Beth El!” said Shoshana Friedman, whose October 14 ceremony and dinner party were held at the synagogue.
“We both felt strongly about having a ceremony at a synagogue, and I had always imagined getting married at Beth El. Since we had so many out-of-town guests, we wanted a ‘one-stop shop,’ and needed a place that could hold a large group. Plus, the sanctuary is beautiful and the social hall is lovely.”
The sanctuary is known to create a magical ambience for wedding celebrations. The architecture of the room emphasizes the dramatic and lovely atmosphere: the high, wood ceiling; warm, golden overhead lighting; the arches surrounding the curved walls of the room and the warmth of the wood-paneled ark, all help to create an impressive and yet intimate setting for celebrants. The social hall, which lends itself to a myriad of decorative themes, can entertain up to 450 guests for a sit-down dinner, and the synagogue’s strict policy of kashrut allows every Jew the comfort of eating all food items served.
Friedman, now working in marketing in Chicago (her husband works in financial services), recalled her involvement at Beth El, including a stint as USY president and as a tutor for younger children on Shabbat mornings. She also pointed out that her parents, Stephen and Joye, remain active congregants.
Among her special wedding memories, Friedman cited the moment when her father, “a really talented pianist,” surprised her by manning the keyboard while Cantor Gaston Bogomolni chanted the Sheva Brachot. “It was so special and such a surprise,” she said.
Fellow newlywed Lisa Reitzes said that she and her fiancé were looking to have a “fairly traditional Jewish wedding,” and Beth El fit the bill. Reitzes grew up at Beth El, and celebrated her Bat Mitzvah at the old synagogue on 49th and Farnam. She also witnessed moving day, when the synagogue relocated to its current location at 145th and California St. “I remember the day the Torahs were walked over to the new Beth El, and as a kid, I thought that was so interesting.”;
The couple resides in Brooklyn, New York, where Lisa works as a freelance events planner and Peter is a speech pathologist specializing in stuttering disorders.
Prior to their wedding on August 12, she noted that Rabbi Mordechai Levin and Cantor Gastón were instrumental in preparing them for their ceremony. “Both the rabbi and cantor told us what to expect,” said Reitzes, daughter of Steve Silver and Susan Silver. “Rabbi Levin sat with us to get to know us a little better and they both made us feel comfortable. My husband says that even though we are not the most knowledgeable couple regarding Judaism, they made us feel comfortable with the ceremony–they didn’t make us feel like ‘minor league Jews.’”
Tradition, history, family connections . . . all these elements meshed together to create precious wedding memories for three different couples on three different days, but all at the same place – Beth El Synagogue. There’s no place like home.
Here is what Robyn (Kooper) Menin had to say about her wedding experience at Beth El:
“It was important to me to get married at Beth El, and it was nice to have our ceremony and reception in the same spot. It was the start of a new chapter of my life, and getting married at Beth El was the beginning of that chapter.”
“I have grown up at Beth El and I can still remember my Bat Mitzvah in the old location. Beth El holds a great number of fond memories, and I am grateful for the support I have gotten over the years.”
On her wedding day: “I walked into the sanctuary before I was even dressed, and words couldn’t describe my reaction. I had just gotten my hair done, and I wanted to check out my flowers and see the area. I could hardly speak when I walked into the sanctuary, because I was blown away by how beautiful it looked. My parents gave me my fairytale princess wedding! “
Read more about other life cycle events at Beth El.