A half hour before the wedding we gathered for the Tisch–the groom and his people in one room, the bride and her people in another. We toasted with whiskey and offered blessings to the groom; we sang Jewish songs. Evidently the traditional form of this ritual is that the groom gives opinions about the Torah and the guests ask him questions. After the Tisch we danced and sang down the hall to where the bride was gathered with her people, and there the ketubah was signed. This is a sacred document committing the bride and groom to marriage. The rabbi explained that fragments of ancient parchment have been found, showing that the same language is used in the ketubah today as hundreds of years ago.
The ceremony itself featured a chuppah, like a tent with no sides that the couple and the rabbi stand under during the ceremony. It represents the home that the couple will create, welcoming to all visitors. The bride walked around the groom seven times at the beginning of the ceremony; during the ceremony seven blessings were spoken by seven special guests. At the conclusion of the ceremony a glass was smashed according to Jewish custom. In a twist of that tradition, the shards in this case are going to be sent back to the craftsman who made it, who will re-make the broken glass into a pot for honey–for the sweetness of the married couple.
A short time later the dancing began, and the first song was the Hora. This part I was expecting, remembering a Jewish wedding I went to years ago. Part of the dance involves lifting up the bride and groom on chairs. Here dozens of Jewish wedding guests were energetically dancing the Hora, singing the Hebrew words…and I was hanging back. The whole day was full of songs in a language I don’t speak, celebrating traditions I’m unfamiliar with. Even though the rabbi explained everything, I was aware of my outsider status at times. This was one of those times: I stood on the edge of the crazy joyful crowd of dancers.
And then Margie, the mother of the groom, grabbed me and swept me into the dance. In an instant I was spinning around with her, then joining hands with others, singing, clapping, laughing. The music got faster and faster. As the rabbi told me later, that was one of the fastest and most energetic Horas he’s ever seen. I’m grateful for the way I was included in it, and grateful to be present for the whole joyful affair.
May the marriage of Dave and Dani be blessed. May their families, now one family, be blessed with joy and good health. May their home be a shelter and a gathering place, a temple for the spirit; may it be filled with good food and the laughter of children.
May we all know the blessing of being included; the spicy pleasure of experiencing traditions from a culture not our own; may blessings and love be shared across religions and across boundaries.
May love bless this couple. May love bless every family, every tribe, every person in the world.
Shalom. Blessed be.
Rev. Andrew Frantz