This is who we are.

Part 1: 9:46 pm

Me: Lalalala bla bla bla.

Friend: Oh, happy anniversary.

Me: Oh, shit! It’s Tu B’Av!

Part 2: 9:50 pm

Me: Happy anniversary! I said it first!

Huz: Oh, yeah. It hasn’t been five years already, has it?

Me: It’s been four.

By the way:

We thought the extra bonus to getting married on Tu B’Av was so we would have a better chance of remembering. We thought wrong.

In appreciation of צהר, or small windows.

I attended a secular wedding last night; if it wasn’t my first Israeli secular wedding, then I have only been to one or two before this. The secular Israeli wedding is something I don’t fully grasp.

A Jewish wedding is so chock full of beautiful, wacky and wild traditions, why not have that be a part of your experience? It just seems that aside from the chuppah part, the wedding is just a dance party. What’s that wedding video like? A night out in Tel Aviv?

Well, obviously, to each their own, and I’m only really talking about Israeli Jews who are already somewhat traditional enough to have a Jewish wedding at all. It’s just my opinion; I like a good solid Jewish wedding with character.

Anyway, because of the marriage laws in Israel, put forth by the religious authorities in the government, a Jew can only marry a Jew on Israeli soil and to be considered acceptable, the chuppah ceremony must follow the rules set out by Judaism according to the Rabbanut.

This structure does not go over well with the mainly secular/lightly traditional Jewish population of Israel. Fortunately, there are organizations that exist to try and ease the process – whether you decide to get married Jewishly or not.

If a couple does decide to marry the Jewish (“legal”) way, צהר (tzohar) is an absolutely wonderful organization dedicated to making the wedding ceremony process as smooth, understandable and comfortable as possible. Secular couples can have a צהר rabbi officiate the chuppah (since most people don’t have a rabbi they call their own). The (Orthodox) rabbi comes with experience, a nice voice, jokes to please the crowd, and above all, the acceptance of the Rabbanut.

“צהר” means opportunity, opening or “small window.” Tzohar’s tagline is “a window between worlds.” This makes me so incredibly happy: A constructive organization of religious rabbis who are bridging their worlds with the worlds of the secular population in order to give a positive outlook and helpful experience.

We didn’t get married through Tzohar necessarily, but our rabbi was a Tzohar rabbi. He had the gig down and so did the guy who officiated the chuppah last night. It was really awesome to watch the crowd sing along with the rav and laugh at his jokes about the Maccabi Tel Aviv game. It was awesome to watch the rav respect the taste of the couple, as the bride presented her chatan with a ring and the couple kissed after the breaking of the glass.

The organization does not seek to ‘kiruv’ couples actively. I think the best thing it does is to start a new couple off in the world of marriage with a bit of appreciation for Jewish marriage as well as a good aftertaste towards the religious process.

Priorities, people.

I was passed an article about a Charedi wedding that took place after being protested by the bride’s parents and the “most prominent Orthodox rabbis.” The daughter of multimillionaires was sent to Israel to seminary and fell in love with a Charedi “yeshiva dropout.” They managed to get married yesterday after getting through protests from all sides (even picketers at the wedding).

I will defer my own original wording and frustration to the talkback of this article I just read, and it’s not about the actual story.

First, excerpts of the article reflecting the prominent Orthodox rabbis’ actions, then the talkback:

West Side Story, Meah Shearim style

The bride’s parents objected, rabbis protested and the public took to the streets – but the young couple refused to give up. Against all odds and despite violent demonstrations outside the wedding hall, a young ultra-Orthodox woman from overseas and her Jerusalemite fiancé were married in the capital Tuesday evening…

The family also appealed to the most prominent Orthodox rabbis, asking that they exert efforts in a bid to cancel the planned wedding. The rabbis even issued a manifest against the engagement, but to no avail…

At the beginning of the week, the family discovered that the wedding would take place Tuesday evening. Claiming that the young man’s family had exploited wealthy families  in the past, the woman’s family managed to convince prominent rabbis to issue another manifest against the wedding…

Leaflets slamming the marriage were hung in haredi neighborhoods, carrying the signatures of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, Rabbi Nissim Karelitz and Rabbi Michal Yehuda Levkovitch…”Who can tolerate such a marriage with such great sorrow on the part of the daughter’s mother and father? It is a defamation of God to marry a person from the street considered problematic like the groom.”

Addressing the groom’s father, the rabbis wrote, “After hearing from important scholars that your son is about to marry a girl as opposed to the Torah’s wishes, we demand that you prevent this marriage which will not be held according to our dedicated Jewish law… (ynet)

For the whole story, definitely click and enjoy. It gets more ridiculous by the paragraph.

However, my focus in this story is the following… Thank you, שרה, for highlighting this in your talkback, which everyone else seems to be missing:

Does anyone else find it totally disturbing that all the rabbis come out of the woodwork to speak out against this marriage but none of them are speaking out against the horrible stories of child abuse we’ve been seeing in this country lately!? They’re busy protecting this young woman from a marriage to another religious Jew when down the road, there are mothers/monsters in prison for beating their children…and the rabbis haven’t banded together to say anything about that?!

Offering my wedding wares.

I was remembering my wedding – how long six months can feel, how quick six hours can pass… How I missed the people who weren’t there, but moreso, how I enjoyed the people who made it to be there…

It occurs to me, since I like giving advice – actually, passing on knowledge (maybe it’s an eldest child thing) – I should publish the information I collected over six months – research, essentially, for having a wedding in Jerusalem, and also, pieces of advice I was given or formed on my own.

Eliesheva’s Wedding in Israel guide.

General advice:

  • * Pack for the hotel the day before: water bottles, food, advil, a brush, etc.
  • * Hydrate the week before! Day before! But don’t overdo it day of; you’ll drink plenty while taking photographs (smiles hurt!).
  • * Bring socks, extra shoes.
  • * Have bandaids at the ready (oops).
  • * Sheva brachot cards! So easy. Photocopy-enlarge the brachot from a siddur and cut them up and laminate. Helps along the seven blessers.
  • * Make sure your ride has gas…
  • * Contacts? Bring extras and your glasses.
  • * Brides: Have something to hold on to (flowers) at the kabalat panim… You’re bound to be fidgety.
  • * Make sure someone is counting how many times the bride walks around the chatan… (oops).
  • * Let the adrenaline kick in and run with it. Love the adrenaline.
  • * Try not to spill anything on each other in the Yichud room (oops).
  • * Breathe when you’re dancing or suffer the wrath of side cramps or lost breath.
  • * There will always be silly mistakes; you probably won’t even notice. Get over that from the start (of wedding planning, if possible).
  • * Get into the calm mindset the week before; pump it up the day before.
  • * However you are is how the guests will react; stay fun and calm and that’s how the guests will feel…
  • * HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR!!!
  • * It’s just a party. A really big one. The marriage is going to last longer and be way more expensive.

Quick checklist (in not so much of a coherent order):

• Date selection (keep in mind shkiyah if you want a special Hebrew date)
• Venue selection
• Photography
• Videography
• Engagement party
• Engagement ring
• Guest list
• Flights for foreigners
• Décor design
• Music
• Dress
• Invitations
• Pre-invites for out of towners (advanced notice)
• Floral arrangements
• Make up/hair stylist
• Wedding ring
• Transportation to the wedding (for you and guests if it is far out of town)
• Hotel/apartment bookings (you and out of towner guests)
• Kalla/Chatan classes
• Rabbanut:

  • o 3 passport pics of each
  • o teudat zehut and sepach
  • o birth certificates
  • o ketubah of both sets of parents
  • o 600 NIS (40% discount if one is an oleh or student)
  • o 2 witnesses for each (who know you, male)
  • o a Rabbi conducting who is registered with the Rabbanut (or register yours)
  • o 02-621 4800/4811
  • o Rechov חובהצלת, #12, near Yaffo street
  • o Sun-Thurs 8:30-12:30/3-4:30

• Registry
• Birchonim
• Menu selection
• Appoint/hire someone a ‘wedding coordinator’ so your parents and friends can enjoy

I also highly recommend this website for wedding planning all over Israel.

Venues:

Beit Shmuel: 02 6200 3405, 02 620 3403 – view of Old City behind, it’s outdoors on the roof (or could be inside)
BibleLand Museum: 02 561 1066 contact@blmj.org (Caterer: Shlomo at שק אירועים 0505234220
Achuza: 02 538 7151 gorgeous set up, Ramat Rachel feeling, might be less money, .
Har Tzion: 02 568 9555 really really pretty, local, different set up options.
Mul HaHar: Ilan: 0504005401 tayelet set up, chupah can go however you want, no minimum, great view behind you.
Novotel: 02 5320000 Idit – 0524470165, swimming pool, porch
Shulchan David – right outside Old City. Yehuda 050 521 7325/026732770
Ein Yael – (by the Zoo) 02 645 1866, outdoors, hidden, quiet
Shoresh – outdoors, pretty, there’s a website

Photography & video:

Sass Video – excellently recommended, great service, great product.
Dov Yarden – great work, great custom albums. 02 676 4223, 0545691123
Itamar Ben Harav: 0546472656

Bands:

Ariel Goldsmith – 052 641 3326
Shlomo Katz – 02 570 9945, 054 316 9888 (Yedidyah, manager)
Adom Atik –
Inyan Acher –
Menachem Herman – mhmusic@netvision.net.il 02 991 8314, 0524704063

Wedding Planners:

Shmuel Bloom: 0547587089
Shani Falik: shoshanafalik@gmail.com
Adina Buchs – B’Rosh Shaket – 0523803048

Dressmakers:

Tamar: 02.538.8558
Elise: 054.498.4540
Aviva: 052.545.5895 or 02.654.1697
Chagit: 054.533.9051 or 02.561.7316
Esti: 054.747.1778 or 02.571.0777
Malka: 02.540.1745
Nora: 052.848.9964 or 02.624.6963
Dorit: 02.651.4840

Tel Aviv bridal:

*It’s all over Dizengoff street, starting from around the 190s. Hard to find classy + modest dresses though. Also a bit more $$.
*Veronic: www.Veronic.co.il – very talented, she can do chic modest dresses

Gmachs:

* Shalshelet/Chasdei Yaela
King George St. They have more than 200 dresses that the bride can use for the minimal price of 400 -800 NIS + dry cleaning. Call for appointment: Racheli: 054-647-2611 or Naomi: 054-630-1189

* Gemach Shoshana
— established in memory of 19 year old Shoshana Zaguri z’l killed in a bus bombing
— to ease some of the financial pressures of making a wedding
— MODEST bridal gowns available
–located in Bayit Vagan
–Please call Paula Mazal Zaguri at 02-6411-795 or 0544-781-293 to schedule an appointment

* Gmach
Rechov Shmuel HaNavi.
For an appointment please call: Pesha Rosenson- 02 582 7936 / 052 478 3675
You may also call Rachel for an appointment: 625-7936 or 0546-472-611

* Wedding dress g’mach
With hundreds of beautiful wedding dresses to choose from. Call Tehilla at 0506 343942 or (02) 625 2924 or e-mail: tiftufya@walla.com


You can always email me for more or to get this in a readable format.