A huge wedding between two of the most important Ultra-Orthodox Jewish families in the world has taken place in Jerusalem, attracting a staggering 25,000 guests.
Well-wishers, some forced to stand so far back they had to use binoculars to see what was happening, arrived from all over the world to witness the highly traditional marriage of 18-year-old Shalom Rokeach and his 19-year-old bride Hannah Batya Penet.
Click here for a gallery of the huge Ultra-Orthodox Jewish wedding
Rokeach is the grandson of the leader of the Hasidic Belz Rebbe dynasty - an ancient aristocratic family that has its roots in the 14th Century Poland and takes its name from a Polish town.
As the current Belz Rebbe leader’s only male heir, Rokeach is expected to become leader of the community – one of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism’s largest – at some point in the future.
As a result, and as with aristocratic marriages the world over, the importance of the union led to a huge number of guests receiving formal invitations. In total 25,000 people are believed to have attended.
The wedding, which lasted until dawn, was seen as an opportunity for Belz Rebbe members to meet distant relatives for the first time.
Traditional Jewish weddings consist of two separate parts, the betrothal ceremony, known as kiddushin, and the wedding itself, known as nisuin.
Guests are usually separated by gender at the weddings, as was the case with the Rokeachs. Men wear formal clothing – including the Shtreimel hat and black overcoats called bekishes. Woman often cover their heads and wear high necklines and long skirts to conform to tznius – a code of modesty among Ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Independent News Service