Couples rush to chupah as lockdown rules eased

Philip and Emma Lewis are among many couples marrying this week at United shuls


The United Synagogue is hosting a slew of weddings this week after the easing of lockdown rules. And Philip and Emma Lewis were among the first to take advantage.

Their chupah was held at Woodford Forest Synagogue on Monday in front of 13 guests, each wearing a personalised mask bearing the names of the bride and groom.

The Chigwell couple had initially planned a 130-person celebration for last summer, only to have to cancel because of the pandemic. They had subsequently hoped for a 30-person event but restrictions were then tightened further.

“It was the third time we’d waited to get married so we decided as soon as Boris lifted restrictions, we’d jump on it,” Mr Lewis, 40, told the JC.

Narrowing down the guest list to 13 close relatives had not proved too challenging “but it was still hard because we had to cancel everybody else”.

He had proposed in 2019, surprising his bride-to-be with an engagement ring made from a diamond she had received from her grandparents on her 18th birthday.

The precious stone she had previously worn around her neck — and which Mr Lewis had borrowed on the pretext of getting it professionally cleaned — carried extra significance, her grandfather having died in 2010.

“Now I’ve got it on my finger,” she said. Mrs Lewis added that the ceremony, which was also livestreamed, “felt more intimate; the closest and the dearest were with us”.

The mother of the 36-year-old property manager had contracted Covid-19 in December but had recovered and was vaccinated in February.

Mr Lewis is a police officer and wore his uniform on the day in memory of his grandfather, who had also served in the force.

In his professional life, he had seen “people in despair” during the pandemic and the wedding had been “an occasion to lift spirits rather than all the doom and gloom that’s been going on”. It was “nice to see smiles on people’s faces again”.

The couple plan to honeymoon in Israel when travel restrictions allow.

Woodford Forest’s Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg said after the ceremony: “It was not without challenges but to be able to celebrate the next step of the couple’s journey and the building of their home together was truly amazing.

“I always enjoy the privilege of being part of a couple’s big day. But after a year of delayed weddings, it was an extra special and joyous occasion to preside over Emma and Phil’s chupah at our shul now that the government has permitted weddings to take place with 15 people.”

The New West End Synagogue in Bayswater is among other US shuls to have held a wedding ceremony this week.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive