Badekns (LKT)

This entry is part of the Lexicon of Klezmer Terminology (LKT). The LKT compiles a wide array of source materials that shed light on the historical and contemporary state of knowledge about klezmer music. Each entry includes a number of citations from primary and secondary sources that include or refer to the term in question. It also indicates whether musical notation or sound recordings are included in the source. To view the full reference, click on the bibliographic hyperlink at the end of each citation.


Badekns-- the custom to cover the bride with a veil before she goes to the khupe.” AlgeEncy 1944, p. 49

“Badekns: Ceremony performed prior to a traditional Jewish wedding in which the bride is veiled by the groom in the presence of friends and family, to the accompaniment of music.” Alpert 1996b, p. 58. (Recording references included). 

“The [beroyges] dance ended, the song was stopped. The groom approached and covered the face of the bride with a veil and the klezmorim struck up a merry march of ‘badekns’ and the community began to head towards the khupe.” [Zambrow, Poland, c. 1906].[Note: The full text of this source is a nearly identical description of the same exact wedding excerpted below as Levinsky 1963]. Ben-Yisrael 1960, pp. 28-29

“‘Veiling of the bride. This melody goes to the ‘kale badekns’ and also ‘kale bazetsn’ and ‘kale bazingen.’"  [Orgajev, Bessarabia, c. 1930s-1940s]. Bik 1964. (Musical notation included). 

“The bands themselves fashioned fitting melodies for the various situations and moods during the wedding, such as bazetsn di kale, badekns...” Fater 1985, pp. 60-61

“Then the groom is led to the badekns... Having entered the room, the musicians strike up a gay tune and the badkhn calls out: ‘Vivat!...’" [A. B. Gotlober: Staro-Konstantin, Ukraine, 1820s-1830s]. Lifschutz, p. 45

“A Jewish wedding in the shtetl was a holiday... When Arish the klezmer with his band played a nign from ‘Kale’she, kale’she veyn’ or the march ‘sher’ for the bride’s badekns, everyone cried.” [Apt [Opatov], Poland, c. pre-World War I]. Glat 1966, p. 108

“[At the end of the bazetsns and badekns] the musicians played the ‘sherele’ and the bridesmaids Rivke and Etiah led the bride to the khupe” [Turun, Carpathian Mountains, pre-World War II]. Hagalili 1956, p. 160

Badekns. veiling of a bride.” Harkavi 1928, p. 102

“A particularly serious moment was the ‘badekns.’ The badkhn showed off and dazzled with his full talent... Later he began to perform a freylekhs.” [Frampol, Lublin, Poland, pre-World War II]. Kleydman 1966, p. 163

“Afterwards the groom was led with the klezmers into the street to the kale-badekn, following which the groom and the klezmers were led into the bet-midrash and up to the khupe.” [Ukraine, 1850s]. Kotik 1913-14, II, p. 286

“The next ceremony after bazetsens is badekens (covering the bride’s face). A group of women of the bride’s party, preceded by the klezmorim and the badchon now pay a visit to the bridegroom, inviting him to badekens. The women are treated to delicacies, the klezmorim play a tune, the badchon exhorts the bridegroom, and then all return to the bride, preceded by the klezmorim and the badchon.” [late nineteenth century]. Schauss 1950, pp. 190-92

“‘Badkens nign.’ After the guests have gathered, the khosn (groom) is escorted by his father and future father-in-law followed by friends and relatives to the kale (bride). She is seated on a throne-like chair adorned with flowers, her mother and future mother-in-law at each side, together with her friends and family. While the musicians play, the khosn approaches and then places a cloth (detikhl) over the bride’s hair, symbolizing her new status as a married woman. In Yiddish, this is called the badekns (veiling of the bride). [This melody was] once sung by Chabad Hasidim during the badekns ceremony...” Sears 1996, p. 46. (Recording references included). 

“In the year 1892 a terrible plague was raging in Apt. The rabbis devised a remedy to expel the plague—a wedding in the ceremony... In the middle dressed up in wedding dress was seated the bride on a beautiful, padded chair, and she awaited the ‘badekns.’ The band began and Yenkl Krakovski, the town badkhn did an introduction. Standing on a bench he began with a nign from ‘Yehi ratzon’... When the [money] pot was already full Yenkl called Khayim with his band to play a ‘freylekhs.’ People put their hands on their shoulders and proceeded to dance in time to the music. Afterwards he invited the bride and groom into the middle of the circle and danced with them the ‘mitsve-tentsl.’ After that came the row of women. They took their hands and made a third circle around the men... The entire shtetl joined this way in an enthusiastic dance to the rhythm of the music.” [Apt [Opatov], Poland, 1892]. Teytel 1966a, p. 106

“When it used to come time to badekn a bride, before the wedding procession, as everyone thought of the badkhn’s nign, with the first words of ‘Yehi ratzon’ (may it be your will), Arish [the klezmer fiddler] understood what this meant: People should now petition the master of the universe, and the fiddle began ‘to speak words.’” [Apt [Opatov], Poland, 1890s]. Teytel 1966b, p. 137

Badekns. (Jewish) veiling of the bride prior to the wedding ceremony.” Weinreich 1977, p. 713

“With the band in the lead, they accompanied him [the groom] to the house where the bride was with the young women, but his visit was brief since he was supposed to remain in another room. And so the Bedecken of the bride took place... [then there was] the dance of the Menuetts and then afterwards cake and coffee.” [Brest Litovsk, Poland, 1850]. Wengeroff 1913, II, p. 108

“Now begins the ceremony of the so-called bazetsns and badekns.... The wedding guests, who only a little while ago had been dancing are silent. Everyone falls into a sad spirit. The badkhn or marshalik... reminds the bride that this is a significant day in her life.” [Brest Litovsk, Poland, 1850]. Wengeroff 1913, I, pp. 178-81

“Late at night the ceremony of veiling the bride began. The in-laws took the groom by the hand and led him to the bride’s house. At the entrance, musicians played, while the groom approached the bride and covered her head with a white silk shawl. Then the groom was led back to where he waited. During this ceremony, the wedding jester began to sing rhymed couplets in Yiddish, and sometimes in Hebrew as well, accompanied by the fiddlers...” [Wegrow, Poland, pre-World War II]. Zabludovitsh 1961

“Before night... the bride [sat] with the women in a separate room... The klezmer played a bazetsens, a sad melody, and the badkhn used to moralize out loud... Thereafter the badkhn would call the groom with the mekhutonim to the badekns. The groom would cover the bride with a veil... After the badekns, the mekhutonim with the groom returned to their first room, and then the women, all of them from the first to the last, went into a mazl-tov-tants with the bride, the badkhn called out names, and the klezmer would play along.” [Vilna, Lithuania, c. 1870s-80s]. Zizmor 1922a, p. 874