One last post about the wedding and its associated celebrations and then I’ll be back to normal programming. (Apologies to those of you who’ve been expecting some political blogging this past week. I’ve been so out of it that I forgot today is election day in America!).
First, a word to the uninitiated. After a Jewish wedding there follows a week of Sheva Brachot – literally “Seven Blessings” – a week where there is a festive meal every day at which the 7 wedding blessings are recited at the end. The Shabbat that falls in that week is called in Sefardi families the Shabbat Chatan, literally the Bridegroom’s Shabbat, which is usually hosted by the groom’s family and friends, and where he is called up to the Torah.
The Shabbat Chatan for Vered and Pini was held last Shabbat in Dimona, Pini’s home town, taking place in the girls’ boarding school, the girls having gone home for Shabbat. (This is standard practice in Israel, that kids go home for Shabbat and that people rent schools for family celebrations).
The Shabbat itself was great; we really enjoyed meeting Pini’s family and friends, and there was lots of friendly joshing about the different customs between Ashkenazim and Sefardim. The food was plentiful and delicious, and the school dining room had been transformed into a dining room worthy of a fancy hotel through the efforts of the Rabbanit and Pini’s brothers. The davening (prayers) were very interesting, being a combination of the Ashkenazi and Sefardi versions, sometimes within the same prayer! Hundreds of sweets were thrown by the women onto the menfolk, and were eagerly collected by the hordes of children present.
The Shabbat though was not without some bloopers. Before it even started I received a hysterical phone call from Vered because she’d dropped the car keys down the drain in the street! (She and Pini had stayed the night before at Pini’s house in Dimona and were making their way to the school). It was 10 minutes to Shabbat at that stage so I told her to forget the keys, I’m coming over with the car, we’ll load up their clothes, and we’ll worry about the keys after Shabbat. I was halfway there when Vered called and said “don’t come. Pini got the keys out”. He’s very resourceful that boy! He stuck a magnet to a phone cord and fished out the keys! (I hope he sterilised them well before touching them…).
On Friday night we heard a story that had not been told to us before: Vered and Pini, while still dating, had got locked into a public park late at night. Pini called his uncle who lived nearby and asked him to bring a ladder so they could climb over the fence! The uncle refused this Romeo and Juliet stunt . Instead he called the municipal hotline and they sent round a messenger on a motorbike with a key to unlock the happy couple. I’m glad I learned about this stunt only after the event!
Then on Friday night, after supper, both families sat around talking and getting to know each other. I went to bed around midnight, leaving my other half and Pini’s father schmoozing. I woke at around 2 a.m. and saw that hubby wasn’t in bed but I didn’t worry because he usually goes out for a walk on Friday night after the heavy meal and then comes home and falls asleep in the armchair. But at 3 a.m when I woke again I went downstairs to look for him and the place was deserted. I couldn’t think where he was. I went back up but at 3.30 went down again, pacing around, up and down stairs, in and out of classrooms, not knowing what to do. At 4.45 I went down again (how many times was this?) and this time tried the doors. Both were locked, as were the emergency doors. At that stage I relaxed, knowing exactly what happened. I reckoned (correctly) that he’d gone out for a walk, found the doors locked, and sat down outside and fallen asleep. (My husband has an amazing ability to fall asleep in the oddest positions since he is to be found at 30,000 feet at least as often as he is on terra firma). At 6.30 a.m. the first of the guests, Pini’s uncle, got up to get a drink, and hubby heard him and knocked on the window. The uncle went to open the door but found it locked, but he went exploring and found another emergency exit on the other side of the building which was open. So hubby came in and excitedly woke me up at 6.30, after I’d had exactly 1 hours’ sleep, to tell me he’s back. I could have killed him!
Poor Pini’s dad was SO apologetic, he was practically grovelling. He was the one who’d locked the doors, but he’d forgotten to tell us that he was going to do so. We had also thought that he and Pini’s brothers were sleeping back at home, not in the dorms, so I didn’t go looking for them to get a key. But it was as much hubby’s fault for not telling the father he’s going out for a walk. Honestly, you’d think that two men, new in-laws, talking for hours, one of them would say “I’m going out for a walk” and the other would say “take a key, I’m locking up”. You would be wrong. Men!! To top it all off, hubby didn’t go banging on doors or windows when he got back because “I didn’t want to wake anyone”. Duh!? And what about me?! Grrr! One of the boys said he’d thought he heard someone and even went outside, but by then Henry had gone round the back. If only he’d banged on the door the brother would have heard him and opened up.
It’s funny now, it was even funny on Shabbat, but not on Friday night. The Rabbi’s wife said this was one Shabbat Chatan that no one would forget in a hurry!
The rest of the Shabbat went off very well, and we all had a good laugh about the incident, except for our mechutan (the groom’s father/ the inlaw/outlaw) who can’t forgive himself, even though we don’t blame him.
The Shabbat was followed by another sheva brachot at the home of friends of the family which was very enjoyable.
More sheva brachot followed at my sister-in-law in Bet Shemesh on Sunday, with excellent food provided by our nephew who owns the Gechalim restaurant just outside Bet Shemesh (highly recommended!); followed by yet another one organized by my brother, sister and parents here in PT last night. The evening was fantastic, full of laughs, a funny quiz and entertaining speeches (particularly by David’s ostensible havruta Shlomo )
Our family has a tradition of writing a funny song about the bride and groom at sheva brachot meals. My brother David, taking advantage of the funny goings on over Shabbat, wrote a brilliant song which I feel I must share with you. I apologize that it’s in Hebrew, and it’s too difficult to translate because there are so many literary and Biblical allusions. Just take it from me that the references are to Psalms ch. 126, “Shir Hamaalot”, a Song of the Steps, which has punnily been changed to Shir Hamaftechot, a Song of the Keys. You can guess the rest. . The tune is the traditional melody of Shir Hamaalot, but as for the lyrics – here they are!
Let the Hebrew speakers enjoy!