Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wedding Bells

Had a wedding on Erev Lag Ba'omer - Tova Hartman's daughter Nomi. A pleasure to be invited as part of the Shira Hadasha community and as a friend of Tova's. Then again, it was us and about 600 of their closest buddies. Welcome my friends to the Israeli wedding where everyone comes to enjoy and be happy. Sister Sarah often comments about the weddings in her neighboring community of Rosh Ha'ayin which is about 98% Yemenite - everyone is related in some way...therefore, everyone is invited. Sarah, who is included by virtue of her being an alto in the choir - it's Sarah and all the Yemenites - describes that the weddings are about 900 people and that if she doesn't show, the hostess always knows.

Nomi and Eli'ad's wedding was at Naom Kedumim, a lovely site a bit past Modiin on 443 - it's a place for wandering and doing activities of a bibilical style. That means baking the ubiquitous pitot and making herbed olive oils and whatever else stands in for biblical here. It's quite large and they often host all sorts of happy events as well. What's great is that you're not stuck in the overly air-conditioned catering hall. The evening was cool, the stars were out - talk about an 'open Huppah/marriage canopy' to the skies. Very nice.

The crowd was a young one - lots of friends dressed in that uniquely drapey style of clothing typical of a young, Orthodox Jew in these parts. Not a lot of dressing up in the usual New York wedding style, except for the immediate families who all looked lovely in their finery - the women, that is. The men wore white shirts and dark pants. No, wait, the groom wore an untucked white shirt with his tzitzit hanging out, along with khakis and sandals. Now that's an outfit. Comfortable, clean and easy. The bride wore a lovely, modest white dress that fit her beautifully and went nicely with her simply braided hair - no makeup, no jewels. She went as a bride should in Jewish custom - unadorned. It was a spiritual bunch - between the Shira Hadasher's who are always ready to break into 4 part harmony and the younger set who sang, wept, waved their hands and jumped (when the music was jumpy, shall we say). As we waited for the groom to appear before the ceremony for the Bideken (to veil the bride), 2 guitarists played and a drummer thumped and we all sang along. The groom approached and took a guitar and sang (while weeping, with his eyes closed) the brides' favorite piyut/religious poem.

I sound cynical but I have to tell you that as I think back on the evening, what I'm reminded by is the enjoyment and meaning of the event to the participants. For me, it was so far removed from the New York Jewish Wedding - translation, fancy dress for all, fancy caterer and fancy price, top drawer band, photographer/video, fancy wedding hall/shul/other fab venue...meaning, big bucks meted out.

The bride and groom, if one knows them are dedicated to a host of good works - from volunteering at a great place, Beit Hagalgalim where they befriend a young person in a wheel chair and do activities with them (there were about 10 young guests at the wedding in wheelchairs, having a great time) to other local good works. Nomi, is Tova's daughter and Tova exemplifies being dedicated to community, to people, to making people feel important. As a woman, I am welcomed on the women's side at SH by Tova herself most Shabbatot - with a hug and a kiss and a smile. This past Shabbat, I was there with Akiva which is always hard - Tova took the time to tell me how Akiva's noises/sounds/excitement are important to her and that she'll kill me if I dare to leave because I'm worried that someone is irritated by them. As a matter of fact, her mother Bobby took a moment to tell me the same sort of thing the night of the wedding, a few moments after the ceremony when I was trying to tell her mazal tov.

I degress but my point was that to the bride and groom what was important were the rituals of the day - sharing it with friends and family, experiencing it spiritually and emotionally and clearly making it an important moment to remember. (And let me tell you that they spent a long time in Yichud while friends hung outside waiting for them to come so that the dancing could begin). So, if you ask, how was the prime rib, I'll tell you that it was bagels and salads and not even a schnapps to drink. How great is that? Who remembers the food at weddings anyway and with so many mouths to feed, does it really matter? There were some hot dishes too but essentially it was a modest meal and although we laughed about it a bit, nobody cared.

Mazal tov was all we needed to say to each other - to the families and to ourselves.

1 comment:

mother in israel said...

Thanks for linking to me. I have a relative whose groom compromised agreed to tuck in his shirt for the chupah (ceremony).