Gary Sernovitz of Slate does not like the hora for a number of reasons, including the fact that it’s not even Jewish.
I am also not Jewish, but having been subjected to the tradition at my wedding (my wife is Jewish) as well as having to organize and facilitate the tradition at a number of weddings over the years as a DJ, I am also opposed to it.
I actually think the whole thing is kind of insane. I can’t believe that a people so stereotypically coddled by their stereotypical Jewish mothers would allow brides and grooms to risk life and limb on their wedding day by being raised above a dance floor in chairs.
People fall off these chairs all the time.
In the words of television producer Bill Grundfest:
“The tradition of having out-of-shape Jews lift overweight Jews up in chairs was popularized by a personal injury attorney in Bayside. He foresaw the falling and breaking that followed, and cleaned up.”
My own experience with the hora was not without injury. I wrote the following three days after my wedding in July of 2006:
One of my greatest concerns during our wedding was the hora, the traditional Jewish folk dance that would culminate with me and Elysha lifted up in chairs over the dance floor.
I am not a small guy, and I did not want to be dropped onto the tile floor.
When the dance began and I joined the circle of people whipping around the floor, I looked around for my groomsmen and saw Jeff standing nearby. He was the smallest of a group of big, strong guys, but I figured that he was better than nothing.
“Jeff!” I yelled. “This is it. I’m going to be in the chair in a couple minutes. Be ready, and get the others ready too!”
“No problem,” Jeff shouted back and then proceeded to the bar. By the time he returned, the song was over and I was back on the ground.
His excuse: “You said it would be a couple minutes. I just needed a drink.”
It’s remarkable how someone who had been there for me all weekend long took that moment to disappear.
As the chair came out, I looked around and saw Elysha’s 110 pound cousin take up position on one corner of the chair. “I don’t think so, dude!” I shouted and literally shooed him away.
In the end the only groomsman lifting the chair was my friend, Tom, who took a serious smack in the head when the chair (and I) took a frightening tip backward in his direction. I began yelling, “I don’t want to be Jewish! I don’t want to be Jewish!” and was finally lowered back down to the ground.
The next day Tom’s wife called the ugly-looking mark on his forehead his Harry Potter scar.
For me it was a mark of friendship, which was more than I could say for the rest of my groomsmen.
As for the rest of them, I know that my best man was lifting Elysha at the time and another one of the groomsmen had gone home to his infant twins, but the remaining four were nowhere to be found. At breakfast the next morning I questioned them as to their whereabouts.
Scott and Gary, the largest members of the group, claimed that they were standing nearby, watching me as I was lifted in the air. “You seemed alright. It looked like they had everything under control,” Gary said.
“And we had drinks in our hands,” Scott added.
Shep informed me that he was in the downstairs recreation room at the time, watching wresting at the time.
“No you weren’t!” I responded in disbelief.
“Yes, he was,” his wife answered. “I was with him, playing pool.”
Why did I even invite him to my wedding?