Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Wedding, and a Sidewalk Encounter

The Wedding
It's wedding season, and on Friday evening we were thrilled to attend the wedding of a girl, now 22, who we've watched grow into a lovely young woman, since we met her when she was 11. Shortly after we moved to he northwest, her parents, who listened avidly to talk radio and home-schooled the two kids, sent us a wonderful letter, and the bride and her brother made personalized bookmarks for our kids. We were mutually smitten once we got together, and the click between us--despite our religious difference, has remained.

We don't go to many Christian weddings, but the sincerity and celebration in this one was beautiful. The couple, both deeply and actively religious, began their wedding with worship, and many, including the bride, sang with arms raised. The pastor's comments and the couple's interaction were both sweet and inspiring, and when, after saving the momentous act for their joining at the altar, the new husband and wife kissed--he leaning her backward--the throng cheered.

For Jews, the wedding is rather prescribed, according to ancient custom--and takes about ten minutes. By contrast, with videos of the bride and groom growing up, their engagement and coupling, as well as communion, signing documents, lighting of lantern candles throughout the church and personally "dismissing" each guest with a hug and happy words, this ceremony lasted more than an hour. Jews tend to go crazy, however, at the reception, dancing with such wild ecstasy (men and women separately) and eating and drinking, followed by "schtick" and more frenzied dancing until guests are drenched in perspiration--that the relatively brief nuptials become merely the prelude. While this Christian celebration was wonderfully joyous and sentimental, the refined meal, toasts and few traditional dances (bridal couple; dad with bride, etc.) were high on fellowship rather than perspiration.

The Encounter
Because the wedding ran into Shabbat, we stayed at a hotel about a mile away, walking back about 11:30 p.m. To get there, we passed through a less-than-savory stretch, and a "Jewish vagrant" who spied yarmulkes latched onto us, accosting us for blocks and blocks, insisting it was our duty to find an ATM and give him $20. Rather than engage him to respond that any observant Jew doesn't touch money on the Sabbath, we tried to ignore him, but he became more and more surly and finally, before leaving, told us "There's a special place in hell where you'll burn for not helping your fellow Jew!"

It was only one block further when my husband missed his step on the uneven sidewalk and took a nasty tumble, emerging bloodied on his hands, arms and legs, barely able to hobble the block further to our hotel. Lots of washing, ice, antiseptic and bandages cleaned him up, though he was in pain and still bleeding through the night--it was only once we got home after the Sabbath that he could properly address his wounds. Thankfully, they seem to be minor.

The Moral of the Story
We so enjoyed the beautiful evening with the breathtaking bride, her new husband and her family, whom we love dearly. Not even my husband's up-close-and-personal meeting with the sidewalk, or the verbal assault of a homeless guy could diminish the event. And the next day, when we heard of the passing of Tony Snow, someone my husband had known and respected, we realized again, how fortunate we are to be alive and well; how blessed and privileged, and how precious and momentous each day can be.

Mazel tov, and a life of love and happiness to you, Laura and Ben! We love you, Dale, Deb and Brett!


  1. It must be difficult to maintain 'stealth blog' status when a certain *ahem* someone keeps linking!

    Just for the record: some serious Christians of different flavors also have a simple prescribed customary format to the wedding and do indeed celebrate with fermented beverages at the reception. The first 'dry wedding' I attended was in Alabama and I was stunned that the whole spread was cake and punch in the church basement. You might find a Catholic wedding to be much more familiar to what you're used to. [Except for the hora.] Growing up in Wisconsin, I attended many a wedding that had an afternoon ceremony and reception with a long break [so the farmers could do the milking] topped off with an open-to-the-public dance in the city park pavillion.

    Mend well.

  2. Thank you, Ruth Anne for your wedding expertise. I have indeed attended a cake-and-punch wedding, and also Christian weddings where the libations flowed unrestricted--but none with the frenzied dancing of a Jewish (traditional orthodox) wedding. You've got me beat with the cow-milking break, though. And "the man" is much improved after long soaking in our salt-purified swimming pool, thank you.