Black Weddings: Marrying in the Time of Plagues

Different communities react differently when faced with a crisis like a pandemic. In old times, people believed that epidemics were the result of curses put on communities as divine punishment for not conforming to God’s teachings. Today, a Jewish custom called a “black wedding” continues. During a plague, two orphans get married in a cemetery, under a black canopy, with the community pledging to support the couple so the souls of the deceased will intercede to stop the plague. That's why the weddings are held in a cemetery. In April, the peculiar wedding ceremony took place in a cemetery just east of Tel Aviv in Israel. With government regulations prohibiting large gatherings in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the wedding was a small affair with only a few attendants. The first historical account of plague wedding goes back to 1831 in Russia during the cholera pandemic. Unfortunately, the black wedding apparently had no effect in 1918, when 50 million people died from the Spanish flu.