If I were really good at doing graphics (okay, if I could do them at all, rather than just copy stuff), I would make two very large circles and then make them intersect. You know, Venn diagrams. And I would list all the things that were the same in the intersecting parts of the circle, and all the things that were different in the two unshared parts.
Oh, what am I talking about?
You know the phrase “You can’t dance at two weddings?” Oh, I can provide a graphic for that:
Apparently, the Yiddish improves upon the German phrase with the addition of the tuchus.
Now, where was I? Oh, yeah, at two weddings. But they couldn’t have been more different while being the same.
So I’ll start with the same.
They were both Jewish weddings, both in the same approximate area (so we could think about attempting to drag our tuchusses to the two), both in the evening, both first marriages, both with family drama in the background, both with many non-Jews attending, both with beautiful flowers, beautiful brides, and beautifully beaming families. And smaller crowds than many weddings I’ve been involved with. Oh, and ISHI was not officiating at either of them.
I think that covers the intersecting area.
Now for the differences:
The first wedding had a bride who was 20 years old. It was low-key, mostly filled with young women who looked like they had never been to a wedding before. They didn’t come up to the bride when she entered the room, and had to be coaxed to come see her. The men went in their little room and there wasn’t really a chance to see what they were like. Although really for the first time, I did not have any interest or curiosity to see what was happening. There were also a number of people there who were so informally dressed that they must have thought they were going to a wedding in Israel. Israel weddings are nicely informal, so that the emphasis is on the joy and the simchah, rather than the production of the event.
Although I’ve never seen anyone bring food to the chuppah and sit down with their little kids on the runway so they can continue eating.
One of the little children, whose mother was letting wander around, was headed right to the keyboard to play something interesting, I’m sure. One of the (2) musicians sat quickly down to prevent any mis-notes. The photographer, who was poised at that part of the runway to catch photos, took a moment to show the toddler (who was a girl, btw) her camera. Someone from the family came over to take a photo of that, which was a sign of the times. You know, the picture inside the picture, which I guess is what we all experience. Are we living in the moment, or are we running to catch something for another time, thereby missing the experience we’re so eager to catch?
This was a wedding where the bride is in a hurry to grow up. I suggested to the mother that she remind her daughter to play. Not to play house, but to play. The chosson looked scared to death.
The irony is that this 20 year-old looked older than the other bride, who is twice her age. She and her husband don’t need that reminder about playing. They’ve got that down nicely.
So that leads me to the second wedding.
Since ISHI was asked to read the ketubah for the first one, we had to wait and wait for the first one. So we didn’t get to the second one for a while. The first one was supposed to start at 4, with the chuppah at 5. The second one was scheduled at 5, so that’s why we had the thought we could do both. We didn’t get there until 6:30. The first people we saw were the bride and groom. That meant not only was the chuppah long finished, but so were the photos. Although, since it was not an Orthodox wedding, perhaps they had all the photos earlier. I do know that they looked relaxed. They were having fun.
As I mentioned, the second bride was 40 years old. She had a number of rotten relationships and I think she was convinced she would never find the right guy. Well, thank G-d for friends. An old friend (who she’s been friends with almost as long as the other bride has been alive) had met this wonderful fellow and persisted for a year and a half until they agreed to meet.
Not a shidduch. A real friend.
Now, the reality was that we could not dance at either wedding. The first we didn’t stay for the dancing; the second, well, it wasn’t quite appropriate musical style or opportunity. Sure, they had a “horah” opportunity, but well…not for a proper Orthodox rabbi’s wife to join.
And the big band with the black singer perfecting Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, but still not an opportunity to dance.
And the title of this blog?
How else do you bentch?