In It Together: A Covid Kallah uses her situation to reach out to other Kallahs, spawning a worldwide connection of chizzuk and positivity

By Chaya Silber

The was a blissful kallah, preparing to get married at the end of May in a traditional wedding hall. And then COVID-19 upended her plans.
Instead of stewing in misery or stoically bearing the change in circumstances, reminding herself to be grateful a hundred times a day, Rochel Braun had a brainstorm. Why not use these unique, tailor-made circumstances to give chizzuk to hundreds of other young kallahs in her shoes?
Why not, indeed?
And so, with the help of a group of dedicated kallahs and newlyweds, CovidKallah, a support group for kallahs who were married or are getting married during the COVID era, was created two weeks ago. In the short time since its inception, over 70 kallahs and newlyweds during the coronavirus pandemic have come together from around the world—and the number keeps growing each day. It is obviously a desperately needed resource for kallahs facing these unique circumstances.
“There are so many details that kallahs are dealing with,” says Rochel. “There is the usual shopping, setting up your apartment, and preparing for married life, and then there are the COVID issues—questions we never dreamed of, such as ‘Where will I get married? Will anyone be at my wedding? And most importantly, what will my shanah rishonah be like?’”
The email and phone support group was born out of a desire to connect with other kallahs who are dealing with the same issues and experiencing similar emotions. Although most kallahs are very grateful to have found their bashert and to be getting married, let’s not kid ourselves. Most kallahs have their moments of feeling cheated, wondering why they were destined to be “COVID kallahs” and feeling deprived of their special night to shine.
Not since the aftermath of the Holocaust have we experienced an era when a wedding meant a very small celebration. Most weddings during the pandemic are attended only by the immediate family and take place in a private home or backyard. A COVID kallah is perfectly entitled to mourn the loss of a special dream, while at the same time she is grateful that she found her bashert and will, iy”H, build a Jewish home.
In addition, not every COVID kallah is created equal. Rochel explains, “We each have our unique circumstances and situations. What is perfectly fine for one kallah might feel devastating for her friend, depending on her situation, personality and expectations.”
The kallahs of the COVID-19 era can be loosely divided into two groups:
There is the first wave of kallahs, who got married in March and April, then were caught off guard when everything fell apart from one moment to the next. They had only a few days to absorb the new reality and to make alternate plans. The glorious wedding night they had been anticipating all their lives turned into a rushed, ten-person event in someone’s driveway. This experience was made more stressful by the element of shock and having to deal with plans that kept falling apart as the rules changed, hour by hour.
Then there are the current COVID kallahs who are getting married in May, June and beyond, and who had at least a few weeks to get used to the new reality.
“It’s not always easier,” Rochel muses, “because we have had more time to think, to wonder and to worry. The kallahs in our support group have so many questions. ‘Should I bother sending invitations? What happens if the venue we choose doesn’t work out? How can I take care of a marriage license if the government offices are closed?’ And finally, ‘Is there anything important we forgot to take care of?’”

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