A Chupah On the Rutgers Campus


chupah-rutgersMyCentralJersey reports: During a wedding ceremony in which the traditional sound of a ram’s horn competed with the occasional sounds of motorcycles and buses, Rabbi Ephraim Carlebach, the spiritual leader of the Chabad House in Holmdel, married Rochel Klein of Melbourne, Australia, in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony held on College Avenue.

Given permission by the city of New Brunswick, the Chabad House on the Rutgers campus was allowed to block College Avenue between Senior Street and Richardson Street for the ceremony early Thursday evening.

Carlebach is the son of Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, who founded the Jewish ministry at Rutgers in 1978, and supervised construction of the Les Turchin Chabad House, which opened in 1996 and provides living space for 35 women students.

Adhering to Orthodox Jewish custom, the ceremony was held outdoors. During a blessing, the couple was told the open-air ceremony symbolizes hopes for a marriage that would produce offspring “as numerous as the star.”

The blessing mirrors the one given in the Torah to Abraham.

The blessing was one of several elements of the ceremony drawn from scripture written thousands of years ago.

Prior to the ceremony, the bride and bridegroom met inside the house, where the groom placed a veil over the face of Klein, a tradition that traces back to when when Rebeccah covered her face prior to her marriage to Isaac.

The couple was married under a traditional canopy, known as a chupah. The tradition is based on mention in the Torah when Ruth said to Boaz “spread your robe over your husband.”

The bride came to the ceremony in a vintage cream-colored Bentley automobile.

The groom’s brother, Mendy Carlebach, head of the Chabad House in South Brunswick and spiritual advisor to Rutgers students, said how the ceremony would not have been likely to be done on College Avenue several weeks from now when the university begins classes.

On Thursday night, only a handful of vehicles were instructed to take a detour.

The ceremony drew curious looks from students leaving Alexander Library, cyclists and two city police officers who monitored traffic.

According to Orthodox Jewish custom, the 200 folding chairs in the middle of the street were placed in two sections – one for women and one for men.

At the reception scheduled to follow at the Double Tree Hotel in Somerset, the men and women would be again segregated. Men would dance with men and women with women, according to Mendy Carlebach.

He explained that the marriage of his brother and his Australian Jewish bride was an “arranged marriage.” He said his brother spent time with Klein’s family in Australia and she spent time with his family in the New Jersey area.

In one respect, the marriage would resemble a traditional and ideal American coupling. “Obviously they hit it off,” said Mendy Carlebach.

The new Chabad House on the Rutgers campus is the largest Jewish center on any university campus in the country.

The facility is being expanded from 35,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet and will add dorm space for 50 men.



  1. Shofar is not a Chabad minhag ( I have a Chabad cousin), however since they do it all of Elul, it was a oppurtunity for more yiddin to hear shofar, tovoi oleihem brocho!

  2. Maby it was a simple attempt to be mezakeh hundreds of Yidden with the Minhag of Tekias Shofar during Elul.

    What a Kiddush Hashem BeRabim!

  3. It’s not minhag chabad. Minhag Chabad is to have shofar blowing in Elul after Shachris, and because there were probably many people there that missed that opportunity, they blew the shofar at the chuppa. After all Chabad Houses have many frei Jews as community members.