Mazel Tov

There’s a rueful old saying which reminds us that while you can pick your friends, you can’t pick your family. Although that’s generally true, a wedding tends to puts the kibosh on that logic. In modern society, at least, you certainly can pick your spouse. And that’s exactly what my nephew Mike did yesterday.

I’ve been to many Jewish weddings, but this was my first orthodox ceremony, and I have to say it was one of the livliest and most joyful marriages I’ve witnessed. There’s something wonderful about five thousand years of history that hangs over the chupah without holding the procedings down, a criticism I’ve had of large Christian weddings where the ceremony can become so theatrical that you almost feel the “fourth wall” appear in front of you.

It was a smallish affair — about 70 guests and a minimalistic wedding party, which was refreshing. When there are 200 people on the guest list it makes you want to run away screaming. (Don’t ask how I know that.)

The ceremony was officiated by two rabbis, one of whom came all the way from Israel. He also dances like the revival of Fiddler on the Roof is holding open auditions and he, in the words of A Chorus Line, “really needs this job”. But that’s another story.

There are a dozen little traditions that make Jewish weddings special, like mikveh (ceremonial cleansing), signing of the ketubah, reading of the seven blessings, and of course the crushing of the glass by the groom at the end of the ceremony, symbolizing the last time he’ll ever put his foot down.

One of the neatest traditions is yichud, a few minutes of private time for the newly married couple between the ceremony and reception. Such a simple thing, but undoubtedly welcome by the bride and groom who are always being pulled in different directions and have little time to themselves on their wedding day.

Anyway, the Rapp family is a relatively small one, so it was cool to see it get a little bigger last night. It was also sad to look around and realize how infrequently I see my family, especially when many of them live in the Southern California area. Of course, as anyone who lives down there can tell you, between traffic and the other complexities of Socal life, it can almost be easier to travel out of state than across the Los Angeles basin.

Tomorrow I’m planning to meet up with OP alumni Tim Proctor. All I know is that he’s living in an apartment that, he claims, is made purely of concrete. Only in the northwest…

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