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Cultural Tourist: A Jewish Wedding

posted 13 Jan 2013, 07:28 by Mark Kirby   [ updated 13 Jan 2013, 07:31 ]
Last week my friend David Yehuda (two first names - go figure!) got married to his beautiful bride Robin in a lovely ceremony just out of London. 

DY and I used to work together at the UJIA and left just after me to focus on his website, Cartoon Kippah, a blog for the discussion of Jewish issues and current affairs. Needless to say he is a interesting fellow to talk to. So in the 5 months since we'd last hung out he'd met Robin got engaged and they're now married. While we may look at this and suspect a shotgun wedding, it's actually pretty normal for a religious (or semi-religious) Jewish couple to move this fast. Also Robin is lovely and they are so obviously smitten with each other. 

There were around 300 guests at the wedding, which is apparently pretty average, with family friends and relations making up around 2/3rds of the guests. Stacey and I were a little nervous as we, and my friend Valentina, were the only non-Jews and Stacey was the only black person. Fortunately everyone was lovely. 

The ceremony was interesting, with the couple standing in a Chuppah which is a tent with open walls that is to symbolise their marital home. The bride also circles the groom seven times as this symbolises the woman "surrounding" the man. I know the Rabbi, Michael Pollack, who is a very Python-esk character who I have heard been described as "a loose cannon" brought his own eccentricity to the ceremony, slipping in a irrelevant parable simply because it was a good story. 

Men and women where separated to different sides of the isle in the hall, and again at the reception with the men's and women's sides of the dance hall being separated by a row of plants - although these were later taken down for mixed dancing. The dancing was amazing though, when the guys got on the dance floor it was like everyone regressed back to a ten year old. We were spinning around as fast as we could, knocking into each other, playing jump rope and riding on shoulders. I was little shy at first but once we I got in it was amazing, it's a very surreal experience being in the centre with two rows of people spinning around you. Stacey said the girls side was much more reserved with a lot less shenanigans. 

All in all we had a great time, so much so that I forgot to take many photos, however got some good videos of the dancing. Check the link below and I will add some more photos as soon as I can steal someone else's from Facebook. Click on the slideshow if you want to watch the videos. 

DY's Wedding