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No request is too big and no intricate detail is too small when it comes to the "Big Day." But why do we get married the way we do? World Wide Wed explores the customs and traditions that define weddings around the globe — and shows how today's multi-cultural couples are making their ceremonies uniquely their own.
In the second episode of World Wide Wed, we head to Baltimore, Maryland, to celebrate Hadassa and Ze'ev — a young couple who unite in the mitzvah of marriage before they've even held hands. Hadassa and Ze'ev were raised in Baltimore's Orthodox community — a branch of Judaism marked by its rigorous adherence to the laws of the Torah. Unlike most swipe-happy 20-somethings, young Orthodox Jews only date with the clear intention of marriage, choreographing romantic relationships around their religion's sharply-proscribed courtship rituals. 20 year-old Hadassa and 24 year-old Ze'ev started dating just six weeks before their seven-week engagement. They've never kissed, and they'll spend the week before the wedding apart.
"The way we see people getting married is that their spouse is the other half of their soul," Hadassa explains. On their wedding day, the couple is believed to move closer to the divine, bestowing blessings upon their friends and loved ones before standing together under the "Chuppah." Once married, they'll spend their first 15 minutes alone in a secluded room known as the "Yichud" — an act that symbolizes the intimacy of their newly cemented union.
"I knew from the first date that I wanted to marry her," Ze'ev says. "When I get to hold my wife's hand for the first time, I will be jumping for joy." And after the ceremony, Ze'ev and Hadassa will embark on lifelong adventure of other joyous "firsts" — one always moored by the teachings of their faith.
Hit play above to learn more about Ze'ev and Hadassa's "old-fashioned" courtship and the ancient religion that binds them together.
This article has been corrected to say Ze'ev and Hadassa began dating six weeks prior to their engagement. An earlier version of this article stated the couple met six weeks before their wedding.