Mandell JCC programs highlight ‘The American Jewish Wedding’ exhibit

Two special programs are being held in conjunction with the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford’s newest exhibit, Breaking the Glass: The American Jewish Wedding, on view at the Mandell Jewish Community Center until Sept. 30. The exhibit features vintage wedding dresses from the UCONN Historical Costume and Textile Collection and the JHSGH archival collection. It also includes reproductions of antique ketubot (marriage contracts) from the Beinecke Rare book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, and modern ketubot from contemporary artists.

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On Thursday, July 16, 2 p.m., the program, Wedding Gowns Through the Decades, will feature Professor Laura Crow, Director of the UCONN Historical Costume and Textile Collection, who will talk about the history of the American wedding gown. She will be available to answer questions about the wedding gowns in the Chase Family Gallery following the talk.

Professor Crow is an internationally known designer, who has created costumes for more than 300 productions. She has received many awards for her work, including the Drama Desk, Obie, and American Theatre Wing Award. She is Professor of Costume History and Design at UCONN.

The second program, They All Danced the Hora, Jewish Wedding Scenes in Hollywood Films, will take place on Tuesday, July 21 at 7 p.m. The speaker will be Dr. Elizabeth Pleck. Social class, women’s roles, intermarriage and Jewish identity are dealt with in wedding scenes in American film through the decades. This talk will illustrate the importance of these themes with brief clips from four American films: “April Fool” (1926); “Goodbye Columbus” (1969); “Fiddler on the Roof” (1971) and “Meet the Fockers” (2002).

Elizabeth Pleck is professor emerita of history and family studies at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. She is the author of Cinderella Dreams: The Allure of the Lavish Wedding and Celebrating the Family: Ethnicity, Consumer Culture and Family Rituals, along with several monographs. She is also one of the authors of the Historians’ Brief on Marriage, cited by Justice Anthony Kennedy in the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

All programs are free and open to the public and will take place at the Mandell Jewish Community Center, 335 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford.

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