Shalom Sweet Friends!

After Tuesday’s full-day tour in northern Israel, I took Wednesday and Thursday off to relax, walk around the city, eat at fab vegan restaurants, and lay on the beach!

On Wednesday (day before the wedding), I enjoyed a fab farm to table brunch at Meshek Barzilay that included a fresh IMG_6377grapefruit juice, chickpea omelette, salad, breads and several types of dips including hummus, vegan smoked cheese spread, olive pate and a mango chutney. For dessert, a coconut banana muffin with an almond cappuccino!! OMG! So good and cheap too. Afterwards, I got together with the wedding party for a girl’s day at Yulii’s for mani’s and pedi’s! What a treat to be with my friends and getting our toes did in Israel!!! HA! That night, we all gathered together at an Italian restaurant for dinner. The bride, Rachel, her brother, mother and father; Rachel’s cousin Allison along with her dad and step mom; friends Bob and Mona and myself. Rachel took the time to say something very special and heart-felt about each guest. There were lots of tears and smiles all around and it was a beautiful evening.

The weather was warmIMG_6443 and sunny, so on Thursday (wedding day), I soaked up some rays at Banana Beach just two blocks from my apartment. I watched a group of newbie surfers and their instructor practice their paddling skills, backpackers chilling in the sun on their packs, groups of men drinking beer and chatting enthusiastically, and kids playing paddle ball on the beach. I put my ear buds in, cranked up the music and went to my happy place!! I enjoyed a wonderful vegan lunch at Zakaim with a charred eggplant over tomatoes and tahini, barely cooked Jericho greenbeans with loads of garlic and lemon, vegan Challah bread and Turkish coffee. WOW!

Finally, the big night arrived! It was wedding day/night for Rachel and Moshe! She had graciously arranIMG_6457ged for a shuttle bus to take us from Tel Aviv to the wedding venue, an event hall about 30 minutes outside of Tel Aviv; so we met at the hotel at 5:30 PM to board the bus. This was my first Jewish wedding so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, e.g. big ceremony, small ceremony, lots of formal pomp and circumstance, etc. Well, let me just say, after this wedding, I’ll leave all other weddings feeling robbed!! Israeli’s know how to party!

The wedding reception started at 7:30 PM with a room FULL of food and an open bar – champagne at the door, five food stations with everything from prime rib to sushi to falafel, and an open bar with plenty of everything! The attire was mixed – everything from jeans to long dresses and heels. There were three beautiful women who played the cello and violins to a mix of pop and classic music. It was hugely festive and fun.

At around 9 PM, the “ceremony” began. There were about 30 chairs in front of the chuppah.  The wedding ceremony takes place under the chuppah (canopy), a symbol of the home that the new couple will build together. Moshe and his parents IMG_6478walked in from the back and joined the Rabbi under the chuppah. Then, Rachel and her parents walked in arm in arm. When they were about halfway to the chuppah, Charlie and Diana kissed their daughter and joined Moshe’s parents under the canopy. Moshe walked to Rachel to perform the badeken, the veiling of the bride by the groom. The veil symbolizes the idea of modesty and conveys the lesson that however attractive physical appearances may be, the soul and character are paramount. It is reminiscent of Rebecca covering her face before marrying Isaac. Rachel and Moshe then joined everyone under the canopy.

The ceremony consisted of the Blessings of Betrothal, Giving of the Rings, the Marriage Contract, the Seven Blessings, and my favorite, the breaking of the glass. Most of the ceremony was in Hebrew with a few bits in English for the sake of Rachel’s parents, so I didn’t understand most of it; but definitely knew what was happening. I also knew that once the Rabbi steps on the glass, it’s Mazel Tov time! Everyone in the audience yelled and rushed the stage to congratulate the bride, groom and their parents!! It was beautiful!!

After the ceremony, everyone walked into another room for the wedding dinner. By now, it’s 9:30 PM and I’m not remotely hungry, but I was told that it was going to be a long night full of dancing so eat up! Once again, there was a tremendous amount of food. The servers kept bringing course after course until I finally told them to stop bringing me food. They were still bringing plates of entrees out at 11 PM!

The first dancers on the dance floor were Rachel and Moshe dancing to Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling in Love With You!!! How IMG_6495wonderful!!! All of us Memphis folks were thrilled. After that, the music cranked up and everyone piled onto the dance floor. It was crazy fun! I danced with everyone. It didn’t matter that we didn’t speak the same language. That night was about fun, community, family and love. It was a memorable evening!

Around midnight, the party was still going strong, but those of us who had an early train or flight the next morning called a taxi. I was back around 1 AM completely happy but rubbing my toes. I haven’t danced in heels in a LONG time and newly polished tootsies were tired and sore! I gratefully fell into bed and said a prayer for the newlyweds. I know they will enjoy a long beautiful life together and that makes me happy. I guess I’m a little jaded when it comes to marriages and relationships; but seeing them tonight renewed my faith. A little. 🙂

I hope your day renews your faith in something, whether it be love, the holidays, kindness or faith in yourself! Mazel Tov Rachel and Moshe, and thank you so much for allowing me to be apart of your special night!

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