Thursday, March 21, 2013

Breaking the Glass at a Wedding and Birkat Hamazon with EIE

Omer and Zahava
Part of the reason I came to Israel, besides visiting Ethan on EIE and helping to lead a trip to Israel with my congregation, Lakeside, was to attend the wedding of my cousin Omer and his new Kallah, Zahava.  What a lovely evening from the chupah outside, delicious food and a gathering of friends and family.  The venue was beautiful and could easily hold the over 400 guests in attendance.  There were similarities of course to Jewish weddings in the States: the 7 brachot, exchanging of a ring and of course breaking the glass.

What I liked best was at the end of the wedding just before Omer broke the glass he said:  "If I forget thee Oh Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue stick to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my greatest joy" (Psalm 137).
Under the Chupah
I googled and found out that: "With the sound of shattering glass at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony, generations of Jews were reminded that Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jewish people were in exile." I was in Israel and Omer, not an observant Jew declared the centrality of Jerusalem.  I loved that minhag (custom) and would love that to our family minhag.  Omer is the first of the next generation to get married followed by two more cousins this summer in the States.  

Ready for Pesach in Machane Yehudah
By the next day Ethan and I were back in Jerusalem exploring Machane Yehudah, exploring the Market and buying some treats.  I was reminded again and again that Pesach is coming and some of the vendors had already changed their wares in anticipation of Pesach which will be here next Monday night.  We enjoyed fresh pomegranate, garinim, (sunflower and pumpkin seeds) and halavah.  We enjoyed warm weather and I know that although it is spring back in the states it has been cold and snowy.  

Leading Birkat Hamazon
As EIE parents and students came together for the final banquet, I was proud to see Ethan and his chevre lead Birkat Hamazon, grace after meals.  We also find in this prayer: May God rebuild Jerusalem, the holy city, speedily in our lifetime. Blessed is God, who restores Jerusalem with mercy. Amen.
 Again we mention our connection to Jerusalem and Israel in this prayer just as I had heard at the wedding the previous night.

I was glad to have spent a few days with Ethan and see what he is learning and doing.  To see the students fully immersed in all things Jewish and all things Israel.  After this banquet all of the students and madrichim on EIE were moving to a youth hostel in Jerusalem so that the kibbutz could kasher for Pesach.  There is no way to escape that this holiday is fast approaching.  To live and breathe Judaism has always been very meaningful to me and to watch all the EIE students doing this warms my heart as an educator but more importantly as a Mom.