A Hasidic rebbe made headlines in the ultra-Orthodox media when he danced, by holding hands with his daughter and son-in-law at their wedding in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
In what he claimed was an old custom which he wanted to reintroduce, the head of the Karlin-Stolin Hasidic group, Boruch Meir Yaakov Shochet, held hands with his daughter, her new husband and the groom’s father, and the four of them danced for several minutes in a circle.
Hasidic Jews are known for being extra stringent about contact between men and women, even close family members. Usually at a Hasidic wedding the father or other male relatives dance with the bride by holding one end of a long cloth and she holds the other end.
His innovation was widely commented on in the ultra-Orthodox press, with at least two papers headlining the move.
Thousands of Hasidim attended the wedding, including rabbis and leaders of other Hasidic sects. The Behadrei Haredim ultra-Orthodox news site reported that 8,500 meals were ordered and 130 buses were hired for the guests.
The website explained that there was once a Karlin-Stolin custom for the father to dance with his daughter alone, and afterward for the groom to dance alone with his bride. This time the rabbi danced with his daughter and then called his son-in-law and his father to join them.
However, not all were supportive of the rabbi.
On the Kikar Hashabbat news site many people wrote shocked and angry comments, expressing their outrage at the public display of mixed dancing. One pointed out that although the rabbi said it was an ancient custom, the Hebrew letters of the word “custom” (minhag) when written backwards spell “hell” (gehinom).
Another commentator repeated a line attributed to the 19th-century rabbi Moshe Sofer who said that innovation is forbidden according to Torah law.
Another wrote that the rebbe had gone astray because he had been corrupted by the Zionists.
Wedding of the youngest child of the a Karlin'r Rebbe pic.twitter.com/5MBUL8F3x6
— Ah Blick Magazine (@AhBlickLive) June 26, 2017