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lessons learned from a tel aviv wedding

Lessons Learned from a Tel Aviv Wedding

One morning during a stay in Israel, I woke up to the ear-splitting sounds of chainsaws and leaf blowers a flight below.

Instead of beginning my day at Pinsker Street like I had the first we days, I rose from a plush sofa on Rut Street; a cozy little avenue nestled behind a plaza that reminded of Thompson Park back in New York.

Not only did the early morning antics provide a startling wake-up call but also the realization that one of my closest friends was now a married man.

The night before marked one of most memorable festivities I’d ever had the good fortune of attending.

I arrived at Rony’s apartment at 2:00 pm sharp, bag in tow, and sweat fiercely dripping down my back. He asked if I could stay at his apartment while he and Ella stayed at the Rothschild Hotel.

Considering his apartment was impeccable it didn’t exactly require twisting my arm to hang my hat there for a night. The cold showers at Pinsker could wait.

When your capacity to look out for another human being surpasses the pressing demands of your own life, I gather that’s about how truly genuine a person can be.

On his big day, I walked in his apartment to find an entourage of sorts. Rony, as expected was frantically pacing the room, accumulating many miles but not really getting closer to anything.

Ella looked beautiful as she sat patiently, while stylists worked on her long black hair and photographers snapped away.

I did what I could and offered my services in whatever capacity was needed. In the end, I half-ironed a shirt, helped Rony with a bow tie, and carried his luggage to a car parked near his building.

Photo by Gianni Scognamiglio

Eventually, we found ourselves on Rothschild Blvd taking photos and poking fun in our all-too brief time together.

“You’re the equivalent of the best man in a Jewish wedding.” Rony commented.

“I’m feel honored,” I assured him.

Spending time together reminded me of just how good this man was. Despite his world spinning an extra rotation or two he still asked repeatedly if I was enjoying myself.

When your capacity to look out for another human being surpasses the pressing demands of your own life I gather that’s about how truly genuine a person can be.

We arrived early at the venue. The building exterior may not have graced the cover of Architectural Digest but its Tribeca loft like interior certainly did the trick. The entire room was beautifully laid out as a hurried wait staff punched time clocks amid photos, dance rehearsals, and family members slowly filing in.

The ceremony itself was something else. Of course, I didn’t understand a word but it didn’t take being versed in Hebrew to know the prose and tone symbolized the love two young people had for one another.

I stole glances at the two between holding one of the four posts of a makeshift Chuppah.

“You just had a major part in a Jewish wedding my friend,” I heard Rony’s older brother say. “People still come up to me and tell me, I held one of the pillars of the Chuppah at your parents’ wedding!”

I just smiled.

I felt as if I was taking part in something truly significant. As lights flashed, footage on a Canon 5D rolled, and people nudged and clamored for better real estate I felt like a specter who’d floated in to witness a historical event.

Photo by Josh Pepper

We danced for hours to an eclectic mix of traditional Jewish, Hebrew, and Israeli music and eventually the less time-honored vocals of Bruno Mars and Adele.

I marveled at the enormous kindness of everyone. For a moment all was right with the world.

“I’ve heard about you,” I heard a close relative say. Others asked over raucous tunes if this was my first Jewish wedding.

“I’ve been to many Jewish weddings back home,” I said. “But the most I’ve seen in terms of tradition is the groom stepping on a glass and yelling Mazel tov! This is the real thing!” I cried.

Another asked where I was going after Israel. “Probably Egypt,” I said.

“Wow. It takes a lot of courage to do what you’re doing — traveling and soul-searching. Really great.”

In the end, I’d decided to go to Egypt instead of Romania by literally the flip of a coin. Definitely a first world problem, I thought.

As the evening came to a close I saw Rony making certain each party was accounted for. He wanted to know if people had a good time, if they had transportation home, but mostly if everyone was happy.

What a good guy, I thought.

He’ll make a good husband.

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