Jewish Couple With Swine Flu Gets Marries Wearing Masks


chicago-swine-fluThe Chicago couple got the jarring phone message less than 48 hours before they were scheduled to walk down the aisle. “The doctor said: ‘It’s not going to be the wedding you wanted. You tested positive for swine flu. Give me a call if you have any questions,'” Jeremy Fierstien said with a chuckle Thursday, recalling the moment last week when his wedding plans encountered a slight hitch. Fierstien and his fiance, Ilana Jackson, both 26, had been concerned about the vomiting, achy limbs and burning fever that had taken hold of them. But they assumed the sickness would put only a slight damper on the wedding ceremony and reception last Sunday in Highland Park.They never suspected swine flu and had even laughed at its comical possibility.

“We joked about it,” said Jackson, a graduate psychology student at Roosevelt University. “Like, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if we had swine flu?’ ”

Shocked as they were, the couple decided to move forward with their plan after doctors assured them they wouldn’t put their guests at serious risk.

“We were determined to make the most of a bad situation,” said Fierstien, who suspects he contracted the flu while traveling to Chicago from Boston, where he has been studying to become a rabbi.

Some slight, last-minute changes were required.

The professional hairstylist and makeup artist Jackson had hired refused to touch her. So at the last minute she recruited a friend to help.

At the instruction of doctors, the bride and groom stayed 10 feet away from all guests at all times.

Instead of walking down the aisle, Jackson and Fierstien walked around the guests.

They couldn’t dance.

And throughout the ceremony they wore surgical masks and latex gloves. So did some of the guests.

“It was definitely a little different than the weddings you’re used to,” said Ilana Branda, 27, a longtime friend of the bride, who was brave enough to ignore the 10-feet rule to wish the couple congratulations.

The party favors, she said, were hand sanitizers.

Nearly five days later, as they continue to recover in their Lakeview apartment, the couple can’t help but marvel at how the wedding unfolded.

The guests told them to give it a few years and they’d laugh about it, Jackson said.

“I’m, like, give me a few weeks,” she said. “Was it unfortunate? Yes. Disappointing? Yes. But we’ve had a really good attitude about it.”

{Chicago Tribune/ Newscenter}


  1. Avi, have you never seen women standing in the back in order to watch the chupah?

    I think this couple is off to a healthy and positive beginning.

  2. I think they should have pushed off the wedding a week or so, until they would feel better,This was totally rediculous and sickening for what they did.

  3. one nut job too many. i guess some people just went a little too far making one big joke out of their wedding, which although it’s a happy day it’s also a very serious day. but at the end of the day i give them credit for something i would never do. I give them my blessings that they should “KEEP ON SMILING” and always have lots of shalom bayis. they should merit a bayis neeman byisroel and raise a beautiful jewish family. Amen