Thursday, June 28 - The Wedding

Not a good night. The jet lag, exhaustion and heat finally caught up with Shayna last night. Pobrecita!

By morning, Shayna was so tired, she took a four hour nap while the rest of us ate breakfast and played around the hotel suite.
We watched from our window as they put together the chuppah, preparing for the evening’s festivities.
The whole day was spent indoors, dreyying (worrying) over whether or not Shayna would be healthy enough to be the flower girl and Nadiv rested enough to be the ring bearer. Of course, Jennifer was busy preparing the Sheva Berachot and I, the remainder of the wedding.
I spent a little bit of time with the bride & groom, and the groom’s family. Wonderful, loving people. Very excited for the day and the promise of good things represented by the couple.

In particular, I spend time with Roy’s mother Dahlia. She told me of how her parents, as teenagers, prepared for Aliyah in a Shomer HaTzair youth camp in their native Belarus, before making Aliyah in 1934, as part of an Illegal Immigration ship reminding me of our wonderful day yesterday.

Dahlia told me that after her brother was born a few years later, her parents wanted to return home for a visit to show off their baby. The family convinced them not to because of the situation at home. Had they returned for a visit, they probably would not have been able to leave again, ever. Dahlia parents remained in Israel with their newborn son, and no other members of their families survived the war – none. This country is filled with stories of the heroic and the tragic, the bitter and the sweet. Deepens our understanding of Naomi Shemer’s Al Kol Eileh (For all these things, God of goodness, protect us, for the honey and the thorns, for the bitter and the sweet.)

As the lazy day progressed, it was room service for lunch and then baths in preparation of the evening.

Shayna woke up mostly recovered after her LENGTHY nap, but Nadiv melted through the afternoon. Letting Shayna toss flower petals down the aisle seemed a reasonable gamble, but it would have been a sucker’s bet to chance Nadiv down at the wedding.

The wedding was wonderful. Truly a celebration of love. I was impressed with the number of people who made the trip from the US – including family, Janet & Roy’s friends from San Diego and friends of the family from their time in Northern California years ago.

It was also fascinating for me, culturally. The wedding was filled with local customs, to all of which I was completely blind, and everybody assumed were just the way all Jewish weddings happen. It was a very different experience stumbling through some of the pieces, learning as I went.

Fortunately, as the M’seder Kiddushin (Wedding Officiant), once we got under the chuppah, the wedding was the wedding we had planned. I find it fascinating and beautiful when different cultures blend to create a new moment, and as this couple stood together creating their new family, all of us participated in a moment of cultural sharing and influencing. Very, very special.

Shayna was precious and perfect as the flower girl. To stand under the chuppah and watch my baby walk down the aisle, was a gift, a joy, a vision (please God) of the future. I don’t think I have ever cried before as the flower girl scattered her petals, but watching her walk, step-by-step, petal-by-petal, was a vision of the Goodness and Love with which God creates and sustains our world.
Jennifer sang the Sheva Berachot angelically. I could stand next to her and listen to her for hours, days, months, years and (again, please God) decades. As I write, her singing is dancing through my head, as I know it is for those of you have heard her sing!

After the ceremony, the reception was beautiful and delicious. Of course it was close to nine o’clock by the time we sat down for dinner, and nobody was surprised, certainly not those of us who knew the day she had, when Shayna fell asleep, putting her head down on the table next to her plate!

In one of those coincidences that some would say can only happen in Israel, we were seated next to a couple who had a common link to Jennifer! The husband was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, and knew Jennifer’s family who lived there. In a stranger coincidence, he also turned out to be the first cousin of a good friend of Jennifer’s parents, the wife of whom was her and her sister’s fifth grade teacher. Needless to say, they will be receiving an emailed picture surprise very soon!

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