THE ‘RELIGIOUS’ (REQUIRED TO GET CITIZENSHIP PROCESS MOVIN) WEDDING 9 DECEMBER IN ISRAEL

(12 days later and i realize that i haven’t written about the 9 dec wedding…) i spent most of that day in red terrycloth pajamas that said new york. Tsafi was studying in the next room with friends. I listened to music, read a book. I went on a walk to check on the weather. The sky was threatening and gil had told tsafi that there were sandstorms by the cliff where we’d originally planned on having it.
so i wandered along the promenade listening to apollo 440. I saw a woman opening up her art gallery for the day. There were 3 rooms, all facing the sea. One room had nothing in it, one had too many paintings and sculptures, but the middle one was just perfect, not too much clutter.
“i have an unusual question for you….” i began, after we negotiated on which language to speak. “i’m getting married…” i said and her face lit up. “MAZEL TOV! When?”
“In a few hours actually…” i told her. She asked me if i shouldn’t be at the hairdresser or at home being skiddish,
“oh no, it’s just a quick legal ceremony to begin my husband’s american citizenship process.” Inside i was feeling the flutters but it was all just too surreal. I decided to follow tsafi’s lead and stick to the practical.
“where are you getting married today?” she asked and i told her “here…in your middle gallery if that’s ok”
“why not?” was her reply and we made plans to be in touch at 3pm. I was still hoping to do it by the cliff. I went home to giggle nervously to myself for another few hours. tsafi and i couldn’t even look at each other. We were pretending to be serious. At 1:30pm tsafi’s sister, dana, came over to help me with my hair and make-up. She put my hair in safta’s yellow hair rollers and we philosophized about eye shadow. I videotaped short clips of the process; from the rollers to unzipping the bag that held my dress to putting on my own veil. I handed the camera to dana and went out to greet tsafi as his bride.
He had been getting ready in the other room. We met in the hallway. He said i was gorgeous…. his eyes were hearts… eyal and pini were in the living room. We took a few photos. Eleni had just pulled up outside and she followed us around the corner to the art gallery. Esther, the gallery owner, wasn’t there yet to let us in so the wind began to have its way with me. my veil attached itself to thorns on the vines that climb up the pillars. My hair went all to hell and tsafi’s kippa kept flying out from his head. Everyone was cold but tsafi and i were high on adrenaline. Esther finally showed up and let us in. we kissed on the grass and took photos. Malca and the boys soon arrived and i ran over to hug them. malca’s proud, happy face and the boys’ angelic-ness really made me happy. Itzik met malca for the first time there. he greeted the boys by asking if they were boys or girls… most of our close friends came…anat & gil, pini, eyal, itai and his friend gustavo, my friend eleni… shoshe and itzik, dana ad her friend karen, udit (shoshe’s sister)… it was around 15 people. Small, intimate, perfect… we stood around chatting, taking photos. There were 3 digital cameras clicking away. The wind picked up. Tsafi and i were untouchable in our happiness. When i saw the rabbi walking briskly from the pillars with his black hat and beard, i began to get the butterfly belly. My eyes followed him wherever he went thinking to myself that man, who is a stranger, is going to be marrying us. he didn’t even speak to me. i’m not allowed to shake his hand, nuffin. It felt so sterile. I told myself that this was just the practice wedding but as the time came closer for the chuppah to be raised, i felt frantic inside. My family was supposed to call… everyone was standing around waiting, most on break from work. The ceremony began and i was very nervous, hoping my family would call.
Tsafi sat at the table with the rabbi. They signed the marriage contract. There was some tradition about raising a handkerchief. I stood frozen watching things and hearing things that i didn’t understand. The boys held up the front poles of the chuppah, gustavo and pini on the back poles. The chuppah went up… shoshe and itzik took two backwards steps arm in arm with tsafi as people sang. Dana and malca walked me in next to them. someone began fumbling with the back of my dress; i think it had fallen open. I think it was malca. The rabbi had brought a witness who insisted on the wine glass being filled to the top. Tsafi was very funny and charming…when he put the veil over my face, he made everyone laugh by saying ‘MUCH better!’ i didn’t understand anything going on in the ceremony. First, tsafi drank from the full glass of wine and then malca put the same full glass to my lips, tilting it precariously close to spilling; a little tilt more and it happened… red wine stains on my dress… but i didn’t want to look at it. i stared at the ringlets of gray in the rabbi’s beard. I felt tsafi’s warmth beside me. songs were sung, the ketubah was read. The rabbi asked me if i agree to marry him and my mind drew a hebrew blank. “just say yes” tsafi said. and as i am a woman who is not a puppet i waited for someone to translate for me. “will you agree to marry me?” tsafi translated sweetly. I looked up to the ceiling and comically said “mmmm….OK!” everyone laughed and more songs were sung. Tsafi put the ring on my forefinger of my right hand, he smashed the glass so hard that peices went flying everywhere. That’s when i saw the red stains on my dress and had to bite my lip to avoid crying. I tried to push the negativity away… and that’s when my family finally called. We were having a wine toast with chocolate croissants and i told them “guys i just got married!! We’re doing a toast now…” and they heard the toast with all the ‘mazel tov’s . dad said “timing is everything”. i didn’t know that diana was on the phone. Mom said she was recording the conversation… we all sounded a bit disappointed. I would make it up to them by emailing photos that night and a video a few days later. Itzik toasted us and people went back to their jobs. Shoshe cleaned up the gallery; i spent some time with malca, enjoying them, knowing it’s one of our last times together before we leave for america.
I was anxious to save my dress. It gave me some distraction from the reality that we’d just actually for-real gotten married… we went home and within 10 minutes we were dressed in normal clothes and on the hunt for a dry cleaner. The sky then decided to open up and it began to rain. Two dry cleaners told me that the dress is ruined. We tried our luck at a store that had wedding dresses in the window. We convinced them to try to get the spots out. She went up some steep stairs to do a test. She said that sometimes chiffon gets ruined from the chemicals. We waited nervously for the verdict. She said that the dress responded well and to come back in an hour. A wall of relief fell on me. we paid 50 shekels, threw the dress into its box, kicked it under the bed and headed out to gil and anat’s apartment. they spoiled us with wine and food. Such hospitality every time we go over there! they bought out IKEA and have the kewlest things. They sometimes even make their own sushi! We watched the video. We were a bit in denial still at that point. We went home and i put some photos on our website and lied awake all night unable to sleep.
The ring went back in the box and tsafi and i went back to our pre-wedding lives. The next day he resumed his studies and i went to kfar saba for day one of a new job. Everyone at work wished me mazal tov even before i met them officially. I was so thankful to be working that when i found myself in a big fancy office building, having transportation reimbursed, a kick ass salary and kewl young people around me, i almost cried… figures right before i leave i get this kind of job. We find bugs in a new english tutorial software program 10 hours a day. My eyes go numb but we listen to bowie and the fight club soundtrack. There’s a fish tank and people speak english with reckless abandon. Just what i needed til my family comes here and we have our wedding for real… it doesn’t feel real yet…. the next day itzik pikced up our marriage license and returned the rented chuppah. The day after i tackled the american embassy with big guns… all forms filled out expertly, the marriage license, english translations and photocopies of everything. the earliest interview that i could get for tsafi was march 10th. He’ll have to fly back here…and then we can begin…

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