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The Complexity of Corona and the Simplicity of a Joyful Wedding

By Ezra Korman

Yesterday our neighbor’s daughter got married. I Have known her since a few days after she was born, good friends.

The wedding was supposed to be tomorrow, April 2, in a big hall with lots of guests – when the Coronavirus scare began, the questions began too: Will there be a wedding? same place? same number of guests? As time wore on … (hard to believe it has only been a month, even less) will there be a wedding at all in the near future? If so, what kind? Where? How big? With guests? No guests? Extended family?

As these times would have it, all those questions received a quick answer in two stages. Yes, we were told last week that the wedding would take place as planned on April 2, in an open park near their home with only a few invited guests to stay within the mandated amount of people that can gather. And then, yesterday morning the bride’s father called to say that the wedding had been moved to yesterday (that afternoon) and would I be a witness to the ceremony as mandated by Jewish law, as the groom is serving in the IDF and his friends would not be allowed out of the army to be the witnesses to the ceremony. The change came as a result of new orders that were to be published last night – no gatherings at all, very small weddings with just the bride and groom and their parents were going to be implemented. Of course, in both cases just the “Chuppa” and then home, no food, no bands and no guests, all of that would have to be cancelled.
So, the wedding was called for 8:00 pm on the community basketball court – but then another change, 8:00 pm might be too late – it might be after the new regulations, so a new time was set, 6:00 pm at a nearby park, and would I come at 5:55 pm to sign the Ketuba (wedding contract).

And then came the wedding…To say that I felt like I was living inside a Salvador Dali painting would have been an understatement.

The setting was amazing – a green sloped park on the edge of a canyon, with a big stage at the bottom of the slope – the backdrop was the Judean Desert.

The bride was dressed in a white gown, her family all dressed as they would have been in a grand wedding hall and the same with the groom. Another friend, an amateur photographer was drafted to be the official photographer (two cameras and all) the bride’s sister in law became the DJ with her smartphone and a cable to a loudspeaker and the few people invited to the wedding were spread out on the hill as the bride sat with her mother and sister in the middle of the slope on a bench, waiting for the groom to come for the traditional Badekin – veil lowering – ceremony, after which loud, happy music escorted first the groom and then the bride to the “Chuppa”.

The ceremony, which involves so many things that contradict social distancing, was conducted Corona style: the Rabbi kept his distance from the “Chuppa” and only he used the microphone, those who made the traditional seven blessings came up to the stage but did not go under the “Chuppa” – the wine glass was passed from person to person (no one drank of course) , the bride’s grandfather stood at a distance and wore a glove and the grandmother stood even further away at the top of the hill. Others pulled out hand sanitizer… the witnesses ( myself and another friend) stood well above the mandated two meters away – it all seemed so strange, yet, it was one of the most special wedding ceremonies I have ever witnessed – the groom, was so moved that he almost could not say the words of betrothal. The rabbi congratulated the couple on their courage and commitment to bring another couple together in holy matrimony despite the many obstacles. The simplicity and spiritual air took away the breath of all present.
Even during the days of Corona – happiness and joy emanated from every place in the large, yet almost empty park where people stood, physically distancing themselves and still hugging the couple and their families with love from a far. And all the while, the bride’s uncle “Zoomed” the whole ceremony for all the family and guests who couldn’t attend. The joy was abounding. The couple were elated and the usual pomp and ceremony were not necessary for this magical event to occur.

I truly enjoyed playing a character in Salvador Dali’s painting.