'God saw we were serious' 'Miracle' marriage: When the blizzard hit, a couple found a new time and place for their wedding on less than a day's notice.

Blizzard Of 1996

January 09, 1996|By Kathy Lally | Kathy Lally,SUN STAFF

Their friends called it a miracle. After three months of painstaking preparations, caterer, invitations, band, flowers and photographer, Brian Wolf and Jackie Proper called off all their wedding plans because of snow -- and then made new ones.

The Orthodox Jewish wedding, with 120 guests, was supposed to have been at 3 p.m. Sunday at Woodmoor Hebrew Congregation in Randallstown. Confronted by too much snow, the couple didn't waver. "I was ready to get married," the new Mrs. Wolf said yesterday.

So at 7 a.m. Sunday, confronted with the impossible, Mr. Wolf began calling his friends in the Park Heights community. The Randallstown wedding was canceled. A new one was planned, in one morning, in Park Heights, where many of the guests could reach the synagogue by foot.

"They told me they could do it," he said. "They told me, 'We can make you a small heart-felt wedding.' And they did it. The feeling and atmosphere was so full of love and excitement. It turned out to be better than you could possibly have planned it."

They were married at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Glen Avenue Synagogue off Park Heights Avenue. More than 70 guests came. The Orthodox Jewish community in the Park Heights neighborhood pitched in, and made it all possible. "There was one miracle after another," said Chaka Drebin, a friend who helped carry out the last-minute change of plans.

It was clear to Mrs. Drebin Sunday morning that few guests would be able to reach the Woodmoor Synagogue. She reached into her freezer and took out 13 packages of chicken that she had bought on sale, and began to think of cooking a wedding feast.

"I think God was waiting to see what we would do," Mrs. Drebin said. "When he saw me take the chicken out, God saw we were serious. He said, 'Okay, I'll take over.' "

Mrs. Drebin put the chicken back before it defrosted because, when she called the Seven Mile Market to inquire about bread, the manager told her that Fred Weiss, a caterer, had been left with some food on his hands.

He eventually provided a feast -- veal scaloppine, pepper steak, chicken curry and chocolate eclairs. A family who had had a bar mitzvah the night before contributed sodas. Someone brought flowers, someone else offered wine. One man walked in off the street. "I want to be involved in this act of kindness," he said.

Only one original arrangement worked out. Photographer Murray Levin got there, "though I was wearing galoshes," he said.

The phone was ringing like it was a command post," Mr. Wolf said. Friends sent a four-wheel drive to Silver Spring to pick up the rabbi and Mr. Wolf's parents, who waded through hip-deep snow to the main road where their driver picked them up. (And returned them later that night, where they again waded through snow before safely reaching home.)

The synagogue's heating system had broken down. So a plumber in the neighborhood, Pinchas Urszuy, walked over and fixed it. Women -- who didn't know the couple -- turned up in the kitchen to heat and serve and clean up.

Rochel Strauss, another friend, walked to the home of a family in the paper goods business, picked some up and later did the bride's makeup.

"It was all from God," said Stanley Drebin. "There we were, sitting at a wedding the community had called out of nowhere. And it was the most beautiful wedding imaginable."

Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz planned to join in the ceremony. He is a friend of Mr. Wolf's from California, who flew to Newark, took the bus to New York and the subway to Brooklyn, where he spent Saturday night before boarding Amtrak early Sunday morning.

At one point the train broke down, and a railroad employee ran through the train shouting "Emergency."

He arrived to find no cabs in Baltimore. "I saw a man putting chains on his car," Rabbi Schwartz said. "He was the Prophet Elijah in disguise as an African-American, and he drove me to the synagogue."

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