For the week ending 14 January 2012 / 18 Tevet 5772

Eastern Jewish Time

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: I am in a quandary as to when to arrive at wedding halls since I have learned from experience that there is a vast gap between the time indicated on the invitation and the actual start of the chupa. On the one hand I don’t want to miss the ceremony, but, on the other, I have often wasted 1-2 hours that could have been much better spent. What is your advice?

Answer: This problem has arisen so often that some people have wryly suggested that the word bediyuk written in Hebrew after the scheduled hour of the chupa, which literally means "exactly", is really an acronym for the Yiddish phrase "biz die Yidden vellen kumen" — "till the Jews arrive".

The trouble is that even after Jews like yourself do arrive they discover that they came much too early as a result of their failure to understand that the hour written on the invitation was E.J.T. — Eastern Jewish Time, which means that nothing will happen until an hour or more later.

It would be ideal if we could radically change this pattern so that both the wedding party and the guests arrive on time and get the chupa going as scheduled. In the meantime, however, it is advisable to inquire of the families involved when they really expect the chupa to begin and add to that another quarter to half hour to allow for unexpected delays.

In conclusion, we live in an imperfect world and must learn to tolerate the failure of a chupa to take place on schedule when there is really no single factor that can be blamed for the delay.

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