the former

Hartlepool Jewish Community

Hartlepool, County Durham




Press Report of the First Jewish Marriage in Hartlepool

as reported in the Stockton & Hartlepool Mercury, 28 February 1865, page 4

text provided by Harold Pollins


AT HARTLEPOOL, in the Temperance Hall Buildings, on the 22nd inst., according to the ritual of the Hebrew church, in the presence of a privileged number of Jew and Gentile friends of the bride, Isaac Wilk, of Hull, was united to Miss Rose Nathan, sister of Mr A. Nathan, High-street, Hartlepool. The celebration of the nuptials occasioned no little interest and excitement, this being the first Jewish marriage solemnized in Hartlepool. One o’clock was the time fixed for the ceremony to take place, and at that hour the room was pretty well filled by those who had been invited, and outside at the entrance there was a large number of curious onlookers. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. J. Moses of West Hartlepool, assisted by the Rev. Moses Woolf, of Sunderland. The Jewish ceremony of marriage, as witnessed on this occasion, we shall endeavour to describe. The first thing that strikes an onlooker is the intense joyousness that pervades the whole affair, for both before and after the ceremony. Messrs Bates and  Williams’ band of harp and violins sent forth its sweetest strains – the pieces played not being lively selections. The marriage ceremony itself is marked for its simplicity, and is performed under what is termed symbolically “the canopy of heaven.” A canopy is composed of rich crimson velvet and satin with golden fringe , the whole supported upon pillars. Two cups of wine are also placed near, and also a glass. First prayers in Hebrew were said, or more properly chanted, by the Rev. J. Moses, and afterwards what is called the lecture was delivered by the Rev. Moses Woolf. This lecture first expatiates upon the holiness of marriage, and the appropriateness of the symbols employed in the Jewish Church, in its celebration. The canopy of heaven under which they stand is to convey to their minds that for every comfort they must look upward, and their thoughts be directed heavenward, and ultimately to the Creator of heaven and earth. The two cups of wine were to remind them of the two courses of life, joy and sorrow, and the ring of pure gold was to teach them of the purity of mind, which should always be the characteristic of Jewish wives. The ring had to be simple because marriage was not founded on opulence and splendour but on simplicity and contentment, lastly the glass was broken to show that man was frail and in a moment his life was gone. After this prediction the ring was adjusted on the finger of the bride by the bridegroom as in Christian churches, and immediately thereafter the glass before referred to was cast on the ground and crushed underfoot by the bridegroom as a symbol of brittleness of life.  The ceremony concludes some short responses being made in answer to sentences read by the rabbi, and when all is completed, the greatest joy prevails, and the bride is greeted with a hearty kiss from each of the bridesmaids, and the others present of her own sex. The bridegroom was conducted under the canopy by Mr A. Nathan, and Mr A. Harris, and the bride by Mrs A. Nathan (her sister-in-law), and Mrs A. Harris, of West Hartlepool. During their being conducted under the canopy, a short piece of music is performed. The bridegroom is followed by the groomsmen and the other gentlemen, and after that the bride is introduced, and is followed by the bridesmaids and the other ladies. The bride was given away by her brother, Mr A. Nathan; the other groomsmen were Mr Kaufman Gallewsky, of Sunderland, Mr J. Bernsdaf, of West Hartlepool, and Mr A. Harris, West Hartlepool. The bridesmaids were Miss Hymes, of Newcastle, and the Misses M., E., and F., Nathan, of Hartlepool. The bride wore a dress of rich mauve silk; a bridal wreath of orange blossoms and a handsome bridal veil. The bridesmaids were attired in dresses of pure white embroidered muslin, and head dresses of flowers. At five o’clock, the bridal party was entertained to a splendid dinner by Mr and Mrs Nathan, which was served in an adjoining room. The room was tastefully decorated with flags and banners, and conspicuous were sentiments wishing health, happiness, long life and prosperity to the newly-married couple. Mr A. Harris, president of the Hebrew congregation at West Hartlepool, presided. After the toasts of “The Queen” and “Dr Ardler[sic]” had been given, the Rev. Moses Woolf proposed “The future happiness and prosperity of the bride and bridegroom,” which was heartily responded to by the company. Several short addresses congratulating the happy pair were given by the Chairman, the Rev. J.  Moses, Mr Noah Nathan, and others of the party. “Prosperity to the Hartlepools” was also drunk with great enthusiasm. The quadrille band was also again in attendance, and several songs were sung by the gentlemen present. In the evening a ball was held, at which there were present about fifty couples. Dancing commenced at 9 o’clock, led off by the bride, and Mr A. Nathan. The quadrille band of Messrs Bates and Williams, under the leadership of Mr Williams, supplied the music, and before concluding, we may add one or two words in praise of this excellent band. It gave the utmost satisfaction; everyone was delighted with their enchanting music, and were somewhat surprised that there was[sic] such master musicians in the town. Dancing was kept up with great spirit until about three o’clock next morning, when the National Anthem concluded the festivities.

Other Press Reports relating to the Hartlepool Jewish Community

Hartlepool Jewish Community and Congregation home page

List of JCR-UK Articles and Press Extracts by Harold Pollins

Page created: 2 December 2014
Latest amendment of revision: 24 August 2016

Formatting by David Shulman



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