How does one spell “Jewish Wedding Canopy”?

The people Ethan would playfully refer to as “punks” would say “J-E-W-I-S-H…” but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

One thing we noticed while on our whirlwind trip through Phoenix last week, talking to florists, planners, event location managers, caterers, and other sundry people involved in The Wedding Day, was that we just couldn’t come to agreement on how to spell Huppah.  There are just so many choices, Chuppah, Hupah, Huppah, Huppa, Chuppa….  Though some would probably argue that there is only one right way to do it, they better not be using the Roman alphabet.  Because there just isn’t standardization in transliteration.  Oh sure, some people have tried, and large groups of Jews choose to use one standard or another, but there just isn’t a universal.

This can cause a bit of a problem when dealing with people not familiar with all the variance.  If you use a spelling they’re not used to, then they might not understand what you’re talking about.  Certainly this problem is more prevalent in the modern age when so much is done via email and the internet, but trying to make arrangements from 2000 miles away doesn’t help either.

Fortunately we haven’t run into any major snafus because of the joys of transliteration, but there has been occasional minor confusion.

All that being said, we’re happy to report success in making major progress from our trip, and invitations are going out tomorrow.

On a related note, when we drafted our invitations we had included the Hebrew date, and had spelled out the English year “Two thousand and eleven,” as is often traditional in formal invitations.  We had kept the Hebrew date as a numeral and got a near universal reaction from people who reviewed it that that looked weird.  In the end we chose uniformity in numerals because spelling out “Fifty seven and seventy one” in addition to the above just took up way too much space.  So be on the lookout and keep it in mind for your big day.  It’s a minor detail, but one worth looking good.

I Have Warm Feet

I can’t believe that I am sitting here writing my last blog post before the big day.  We’ve hit the final countdown and I’m reminded of it as the weather forecast moves from the 10 day into the 5 day.  5 days until the wedding!

I’m set to leave on my big Mikvah trip in a few hours.  Well.  Ok.  Bachelor party.  I’ve just decided to see my upcoming three day adventure as a way to cleanse myself of any feelings of anxiety or stress.  I am going to use my time-with-the-boys to ground myself and walk down the isle with a clean mind and spirit.  I don’t think that I can think of anything more comforting than spending time with people whom I would trust with anything.  They have always been there for me, since we were kids, and will continue to be there for me no matter what happens.  They are the people that I am most comfortable around and I’m happy to have them put me in the mind frame to push me out of this liminal space and into married life

We have so much going on that my whole body is spinning (not just my head anymore!) Although the plans are shaping up, I can’t forget that there is always going to be more to do.

The benefit to being us is that we don’t stress too easily.  This is one of those times where we both understand that if it gets done, great.  If not, we will still have the best day ever.

I will be totally ready.

I’m excited to start this adventure, and honored to be a part of Lula’s life.  I’m just so glad that it’s her.

Let’s just say, I have warm feet.

-Alx

Making the Grade

 

So we got our marriage license today.  May 7th.  Exactly one month from the wedding.

How nutty is that?

One month.

Our list keeps getting smaller but for some reason it feel like it never ends.  When I worked in the bookstore it felt like no matter how often I alphabetized the stacks or cleaned up the kids section, it would never be done.  The next day I would have to start all over again.  You know.  Like homework.  Well.  That’s kind of what it’s like planning for a wedding.  You turn a corner and boom.  Double boom.  Two more corners to turn.

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I hated homework.  In high school it was a chore.  In college it was busy work.  Now.  Homework separates us from our wedding day.

We meet again with Rabbi Berman in a few days and I haven’t even looked at the list of things that we are supposed to have prepared. (She’s reading this now and thinking about how interesting our conversation will be when I tell her that we did it all last minute—Hi Rabbi Berman.)

And we’re talking important stuff here.

Since Lu and I just outright refuse to take things at face value it means that we will be crafting our own 7 blessings.  We will be writing the Kettubah.  We will be tweaking the language and we will be happy with it.  But, man.  There’s a lot to do!

So as I sit here knowing full well that the next month is going to be a rough ride I can’t help but think that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The other night Lu and I talked about how it would be if I were marrying a Jew.  Well.  I probably would just take it all at face value.  Jew to Jew means that you can kind of roll with the punches and take the easy route.  I could take what was handed to me and just let it be the Jewish wedding that has happened for centuries.  The fact that we are trying so hard to make sure that there is meaning in it for both of us makes it that much more awesome.  I’m proud of what we are doing.  We are taking a Jewish ceremony and making it have meaning for me, Jewishly and non Jewishly, and crafting the ceremony that Lu has always wanted.

Granted, we could never do this without the wonderful guidance of our Rabbi and community.

It’s a wonderful ride and I have every expectation that we will get an A+.

-Alx

All the parts

Gosh.

Eight weeks left until the big day and I feel like we have barely gotten started on what needs to be done.  Life just flies by so fast now that I know June will be here before we know it.  Between the invitations that haven’t gone out and the Ketubah that is yet to be made, I feel like we have more on our plate now than when we started.  How did that happen?

Decisions.  Decisions.

Lu and I have taken every step to internalize each piece of tradition and make it our own.  It is a big task to be able to separate ritual from tradition and I often feel that life would be easier were we to take things at face value.  But hey.  What’s the fun in that?

Tradition ends where the new age begins.  Right?

I mean.  There comes a point where a chuppah is just a chuppah and a ketubah is just a ketubah.  But why not make these things ourselves?  Why not create them so that they don’t create us.  I feel like we spend a lot of time internalizing and a lot of time in conversation about these traditions.  We make each piece a challenge.  And the truth is: I love it.

It makes me feel closer to Judaism.

We have spent the better part of a year planning this thing and the more that we have to learn, the more I feel connected.  The more that we have to figure out together, the more I feel connected.  The more we meet with Rabbi Berman, the more I feel connected.  The more I write this blog, the more I feel connected.  It’s like I’m creating a new relationship with an old friend.  My Judaism is fresh.  It makes me feel good.

I know that we have much learning to do.  And just like when our son, Raiden was born, I know that we will never be ready.

The best that we can do is to do our best.  We will begin our life together knowing that we didn’t just take what was prescribed and that we are in every capacity to carve out our own path.

Life is such a wonderful journey.

-Alx

Love Thy Mother-In-Law

Where does one put her individuality and feminism aside for the greater good? This is the question I face.

I’m talking about our processional at our wedding. What I didn’t know is that it is Jewish tradition for the parents to not only walk their child down the aisle but to also stand under the huppah with them. For various reasons mostly dealing with logistics, we had decided that only us, our son, and the rabbi would be under the huppah. Needless to say, this was quite the punch to my mother-in-laws gut. However, she accepted this with the consolation that she would still get to walk her son down the aisle.

That’s where the issue begins. I didn’t want my parents to walk me down the aisle. As a thirty-two year old mother who has been on her own in the world for quite a while, I felt that no one needed to “give” me away. I am giving myself to Alx. To add to this, there is some heavy water under the bridge when it comes to my relationship with my father. I’ve come a long way in life emotionally but on this issue I’m torn. Do I put aside my issues and let my parents walk me so Alx’s parents can walk him?

From what I understand, in Judaism this is a symbolic gesture of releasing their child into adulthood. They’ve supported and cared for them under their own roof and they are now escorting them with love to the new home that the child will make with his/her spouse. It’s actually a heart warming ritual but what about when there is unresolved issues between child and parent(s)?

I guess this would be easy if I were Jewish as well because then it would just be. The choice would be made for me out of tradition and ritual.

Alx and I have talked about this intimately and I’ve even spoken with my mother-in-law about it. She understands my position and has selflessly left it up to me. Even though it breaks her heart, she is willing to give up this ritual if it is going to make me uncomfortable. I have to say that I really lucked-out with mother-in-laws. Miki is caring, understanding, easy to talk to, a bit bossy at times but always, always puts her children’s well-being before anything.

She has accepted me as her daughter with open arms and an open heart. This is why I’m in the process of reconciling the issues that are stopping me from participating in this ritual. It bothers me to have my parents walk me but that pales to the heaviness in my heart at taking this away from Alx and his parents. Jewish or not, Alx is extremely close to his family and they are active participants in every aspect of his life. I want to accommodate but I don’t really know how to do that without compromising myself.

Our rabbi says that this situation is a paradox because it’s all in the viewpoint. I can have them walk me and see it as a healing moment or I can focus on the negative and allow that to ruin the moment. I can not walk with them and it might be negative since it is in reaction to the unresolved issues or I can not walk with them and retain my current viewpoint of individuality and self-sufficiency. I think it all boils down to what I’m ready to accept, forgive, and move past.

If I’ve learned anything from Alx’s family, especially his mom, is that love knows no bounds and for family we gladly sacrifice to ensure the happiness and well-being of our loved ones. For my mother-in-law, I am willing to sacrifice. I am willing to endure the pain that it will take to resolve my issues and move-on so that on our beautiful wedding day she can walk her son down the aisle. The thought of this makes me happy. Maybe this was the stimulus that I needed. The last little nudge to take those last painful steps towards forgiveness and closure on a not-so-great chapter of my life.

So, thank you Miki, for being you. For being caring, understanding, easy to talk to, a bit bossy at times but always, always putting your children’s well-being before anything and for being the little nudge that I needed to strive to become healthier, happier, and whole.