By Deb Silverthorn
The pandemic stalled plans for many, but for Delaney Becker and Justin Katz, it provided double the opportunity to commit their love.
They exchanged their vows on Jan. 10, at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, then again in a renewal of vows with extended family and friends on May 23 at 1899 Farmhouse.
“We’ve made more memories than we ever imagined,” said Delaney. “More than we could have dreamed of.”
The bride, a cardiovascular ICU nurse at UT Southwestern Medical Center, is the daughter of Shari and Norman Becker and sister of Alec (Ellen) and Madison. She attended Akiba Academy and is a graduate of Plano West Senior High. Her family is four generations connected at Congregation Shearith Israel.
The groom, a software engineer for Capital One, is the son of Debbie and Bruce Katz, brother of Jared and Jenna and a graduate of Ann and Nate Levine Academy and Yavneh Academy. His family has long been affiliated at Congregation Anshai Torah.
In 2009, the two high school freshmen met at a BBYO event. She was a member of Reba Wadel BBG, and he was a member of Berger AZA; they served terms as vice-presidents and presidents of their respective chapters at the same time.
The two graduated from Texas A&M University, and Delaney continued on to Texas Tech University, earning a second bachelor’s degree in nursing. While in college, Justin was a member of Sigma Alpha Mu and Delaney was the founding president of A&M’s Alpha Epsilon Phi chapter. Both were involved with A&M’s Rohr Chabad Jewish Center and attended programming at Texas A&M Hillel.
The wedding planning began after Justin proposed during a Hanukkah 2019 scavenger hunt ending at the Starbucks at Preston and Frankford, where they’d met. Months into planning, COVID-19 had the world locked down. Marrying at Shearith Israel couldn’t happen as its 25-person limit wouldn’t even allow their families.
As Delaney discussed venues with her maternal grandparents, Frieda and Max Glauben, the senior couple suggested the Museum. The Glaubens helped found the Museum nearly 40 years ago, and Max is famed for leading tours and giving lectures for tens of thousands about his experiences surviving the Holocaust.
“The Museum is a beacon of learning and light. What could be more beautiful than the light of the love of this lovely couple?” said Zayde Max. “They’re meant for each other, and under the circumstances, they were meant to begin their life in this place.”
The couple agreed. “The idea of saying our vows in a place dedicated to Jewish lives was precious,” said Delaney, she and Justin having heard Max’s history for years, including as they traveled together with him as chaperone on the 2012 March of the Living Tour. “Being Jewish is so much of who each of us is, and who we are together. Judaism is the root of our relationship as we met because we were both Jewish and in BBYO,” said Delaney.
Approving the request for the Museum’s first wedding was an honor, said DHHRM President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins. “We were delighted to share in a ceremony so obviously about the continuance of life. For that, we all celebrate.”
The ceremony was held in the Museum’s lobby on a snowy night. The guest list included nearly 50 people. Shearith Israel’s Rabbi Ari Sunshine and Cantor Itzhak Zhrebker and Anshai Torah’s Rabbi Stefan Weinberg officiated.
The couple, both of large extended families, were happy to have so many loved ones present including their grandparents Sol Becker, the Glaubens, Hilary Sherman and David Shusterman. Of blessed memory, present in mind, were grandparents Gloria Becker, Shirley Coltar Katz Berman, Sol Katz and Susan Shusterman.
Honoring their connection to heritage, Jewish touches surrounded the rituals beginning with Justin and Norm creating the base of the chuppah, its ceiling made of the grandfathers’ tallitot.
Before the ceremony, the men participated in a tish with song and the groom gave a d’var Torah about the week’s portion, Vayera, and its relation to marriage. The tish was held at the entrance to the Dimensions in Testimony Theatre, which features Glauben’s interactive biography.
At the bedeken, Justin veiled his bride and, in keeping with Ashkenazic tradition, the mothers of the bride and groom broke a plate representing the couple’s commitment to one another (as the plate cannot be made whole again). The two signed their ketubah with friends and former classmates Yosef Presburger and Sammy Pappert serving as witnesses.
Receiving blessings of the rabbis and cantor, the couple were wrapped in the bride’s father’s tallit; she wore her late grandmother’s bracelet and they used wedding bands from Justin’s grandfather David and Delaney’s Bubbye Frieda to seal their love.
“I met Max when I was in seventh grade, long before I met Delaney,” said Justin. “My own family left Poland and Russia before World War II but for so long now I’ve been connected to this family. They’re now my family and Max’s story now is ours.”
As the danger of the pandemic seemed to wane, the couple planned another ceremony with their extended family and friends, renewing their vows and celebrating as they’d originally hoped.
In May, with their chuppah, ketubah, wedding party and clergy, they spoke the words of their tradition, dined and danced the hora, received many “mazel tovs” into the night.
The couple’s first dance summed up their hearts, as Michael Bublé’s “Everything” rang true: “And in this crazy life, and through these crazy times, it’s you, it’s you, you make me sing. You’re every line, you’re every word, you’re everything.”