Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wedding Season

Summer has arrived in Israel with all its attendant events.  These include summer camps, shopping in the mall, water parks and, gasp, weddings.  

The latter tend to bunch up in the summer months for several reasons.  First of all, Jews cannot get married from Pesach to Shevuot (except for Lag Veomer, but that is a long story), a period of seven weeks in the spring, and the three weeks before Tisha Be'av, which is in the summer. So, the Jewish couple wishing to get married looses almost two months, creating a bit of a log jam on the wedding halls.  Arabs, whether Moslem or Christian, do not get married in the winter.  The reasons for this are more practical than religious.  The wedding celebrations tend to be several days long and involve large amounts of people, requiring outside space.  Therefore, rain and cold wind would be a real downer to the event.  The result of these circumstances is that the average Israeli, even the not notably social ones, is invited to a series of weddings.

Attending them is not such a simple matter.  First of all, there is the matter of the size of the gift.  Several methods exist for determining it. The simplest, based on what the person can afford, is only allowed for those truly in financial need.  The modern system is to check any of many sites in which you enter in the important details, which will then inform you of the size of the proper gift.  The more traditional way, still quite prevalent, is to check the list recording the amount which that person given by the family of the bride or groom when your son or daughter got married. Whatever the method, it is clear that several summer weddings can wreak a lot of damage to the budget.

The guests also contribute time and sleep.  Weddings can be quite pricey, especially in large cities.  So, many younger couples search for more affordable wedding halls, often in very interesting locations.  These often involve a long drive over curvy, dark roads.  Adding in some rush hour traffic, getting to the wedding can easily involve two hours.  Even if the couple picks a convenient location for most of the invited friends and family, some unlucky guests will find themselves with a long drive because they live far away. You can’t please everybody, right?  Often the biggest cost is paid on the following day.  According to Judaism, there are no weddings on Shabbat (Friday evening to Saturday end of day).  At the same time, Sunday is a regular work day.  The consequence is that unless the wedding is on a Thursday night, all of the guests have to get up and go to work the next day.  What we do for our friends and family!

The wedding itself can be enjoyable or boring, depending on the individual circumstances.  Yet, certain negative effects are unavoidable, especially for us older folk.  The music will undoubtedly be too loud, often to the point of driving people to sit outside or even bring earplugs. A pleasant conversation without screaming is a dream.  Secondly, Jewish and Arab weddings must have a cornucopia of food. The guest with a limited appetite (especially at 9:00 in the evening or later) would easily have enough to eat with the initial buffet, generally quite excellent and varied in Israel.  Unfortunately, the initial appetizers are followed by fish, meat, vegetables, potatoes, rice, and copious salad, not to mention a parve (non-dairy) desert. It takes a strong will not to overeat. A summerful of such meals can be a weighty issue.  So, attending a wedding sometimes results in ringing in the ears, a hoarse voice and a feeling of being stuffed. 

Still, all this irrelevant since the only important point of a wedding is that the couple getting married have a good time, with all their family and friends to share their joy.

NB: I got married for the second time a year and a half ago in February (not summer) and celebrated with 20 friends and family in a nice restaurant in Zichron Ya’akov, with very low background music.  It was the best wedding I ever attended.

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