Israel Trip: An Israeli Wedding

The whole reason we took this trip to Israel was because we were invited to my cousin Nadiv's wedding.  Okay, so maybe not the *whole* reason we went, but that was certainly the catalyst to finally get us to Israel. 

So, let me introduce you to the Israeli branch of my family:

This is Nadiv -- and his lovely new wife Nurit.

These are Nadiv's parents, my Aunt Judi (my mom's youngest sister) and Uncle Moti.  They're contagiously bubbly and happy people.  No matter how many years it has been between our visits, they're some of the most welcoming and friendly people you'll ever meet.  You cannot help but love them. Aunt Judi surprised everyone and showed up at our wedding in Carbondale, IL over 13 years ago.  It's only right that I finally made it to Israel to visit her!

This is my cousin Yasmin, and her little boy Ofek, who is about 7 months old and one of the happiest and most content babies I've ever met.

I missed Yasmin's wedding a couple of years ago (my mom was our representative at that wedding), and have been kicking myself ever since.  I wish I had gone.  But, since I waited until Nadiv's wedding to make the trip, I got to meet Ofek -- so that's certainly a bonus!  Yasmin and I are the only two girls in 10 grandchildren.  We have to stick together. 

The super-tall guy in this next picture is Yasmin's husband Harel, who was wonderful! He did such a great job of watching over Ben and I and the wedding and making sure we had plenty of fun! :) 

And this is Nitzan, the youngest son of the Israeli branch of the family, and his girlfriend Racheli.  When I had last seen Nitzan, he wasn't much older than Ayla is now.  He's still just as cute and charming as he was then! 

Ben and I have never been to a Jewish wedding, let alone an Israeli wedding.  So we weren't quite sure what to expect.  I found a description of how Israeli weddings are different than American weddings at a blog called "Erin's Adventures in Israel." She describes it SO much more perfectly than I could.  Go read her description and then come right back to read the rest of this post. 

Seriously -- go now! Then come back.



Okay, so now that you know all about what to expect at a typical Israeli wedding, I can show you all about *this* Israeli wedding.

The wedding was at a beautiful event center out in the middle of nowhere.  Everything was green and lush, with gorgeous lighting and the weather could not have been more perfect.

The bride and groom and all of the family greeted each guest as they arrived, and we all kind of mingled on the lawn while having drinks and fancy appetizers as all the guests trickled in. 

Judi said they expected somewhere around 350 people to attend.

The tables were set up inside a large enclosed tent for dinner after the ceremony.

Grandma and Grandpa introduced us to all sorts of family members - cousin Hadassah's daughters Dalia and Ruti, Moti's siblings, Harel's parents, Nurit's parents, etc. etc. etc. 

Most people spoke English (to us anyway), and though it was a little overwhelming sometimes, it was wonderful to get to meet everyone!  We also learned the Moroccan greeting - Moti & Harel's families are both Moroccan - - a kiss on both cheeks.  I'm sure we messed that up plenty, but we tried. Hopefully we weren't too awkward.

Finally, around 8:30 or so, everyone started gathering around the Chuppah for the ceremony.  The family members walked down the aisle first to stand with Nadiv and Nurit, and then Nadiv and Nurit walked down the center aisle together, holding hands.

There were two things I noticed in particular about this wedding that felt very different to me. 

First, with the exception of the photographer and one other woman, I was the ONLY person taking photos.  No iPhones, no SLRs, no point-and-shoots.  No one else was taking pictures.  When I asked about it later, my Israeli family assured me that it wasn't a faux pas thing to do, and it was fine that I did, but it was definitely a cultural difference that Ben pointed out to me, and then I noticed.  

We can't go to a single event - concert, wedding, game, etc. -  in the US without viewing it through the screens of the people in front of us.  I'm guilty.  I know it.  I don't deny it.  But, I did try to put my camera down for a good portion of the ceremony since I was feeling a little self conscious about my completely in-your-face giant SLR camera while everyone else was just "there" and enjoying the moment.  It was nice - and I still got a few good shots. :)

The second thing I noticed in particular about this wedding is how casual the crowd was.  It felt as if it was an impromptu ceremony that everyone just circled up and participated in, like it was natural.  I found that VERY different from the formal and rehearsed weddings we usually see in the US.

Oh, and I guess there's a third was all in Hebrew.

It was a short ceremony, but Nadiv and Nurit did several of the Jewish wedding traditions you might expect - the Chuppah, Ketubah, the seven blessings, and breaking the glass.

As soon as the ceremony was over, they kiss, everyone claps, the guests all kind of "rush" the Chuppah to give hugs, kisses and say their "Mazel Tovs" -- and then head straight for the buffet lines for the dinner and dancing portion of the reception.

Dinner was amazing -- all freshly cooked on-site, tons of different types of foods, meats, salads and vegetables - and all Kosher of course.

We ate, we visited, and then...the dancing began. 

Grandma and Grandpa kicked it off with a couple of songs that were added to the playlist just for them.  :) 

Hard to believe they are in their late-80's, isn't it?  We're celebrating Grandpa's 90th birthday this spring. 

The rest of the evening was filled with loud music, neon lights, and lots of fun and dancing.  Nadiv and Nurit chose not to do some of the traditional Jewish wedding dances, which might have been fun to see, but everyone had a great time dancing until late into the evening. 

Even Ben did a little dancing. :)

Nothing like a late-night wedding celebration on a Tuesday!  It seems odd to us, but that's a pretty normal occurance in Israel. (Weddings in Israel aren't held on Saturdays or Sundays because of Shabbat, so it's common for them to be late in the evening on weeknights). Just think -- most of the guests had to get up and go to work the next morning!

Mazel Tov Nadiv & Nurit! Your wedding was wonderful!  We're thrilled to have been able to share the evening with you!


Israel Trip Wrap-Up:

  1. Israel Trip: Getting Ready to Go
  2. Israel Trip: Layover in Chicago
  3. Israel Trip: Traveling Across the World
  4. Israel Trip: Jerusalem - The Old City
  5. Israel Trip: Bethlehem & West Bank
  6. Israel Trip: Yad Vashem & Ben Yehuda Street
  7. Israel Trip: An Israeli Wedding
  8. Israel Trip: Mount of Olives
  9. Israel Trip: City of David
  10. Israel Trip: Sea of Galillee
  11. Israel Trip: Kibbutz, Gaza & Shabbat
  12. Israel Trip: Dead Sea & Ein Gedi
  13. Israel Trip: The Food

2 comments so far:

Di Kington said:

Andrea, Thanks so much for sharing this! An absolutely beautiful wedding and it is so great to see you and Ben sharing the experience with friends and family in such a special location!

Papa Tom said:

from Linda: Beautiful family, Andrea! What a wonderful experience. Your grandparents amaze me!

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