My Wedding Day
Nearly 54 years ago and this comment remains the most vivid memory of my wedding day... “Have you ever seen so many Jews in one place?”
I stood in an elevator, lights off, door open, waiting for the hotel employee to tell me it was time to walk to the room where guests were waiting for the wedding ceremony to begin. As the bride, I would be the last person to enter the room.
As I waited, unnoticed, excited for this moment. I could hear chatter. Happy voices. It heightened my senses as I stood there. Most of the guests were my family and friends from my hometown of Detroit. Out of town guests, from my husband's family arrived from Chicago. His family and his parents friends rounded out our small guest list.
It was a lovely wedding, designed on a budget. Lunch instead of dinner. The musicians gave a discount for a daytime reception. My parents saved for this day, making sacrifices to make this wedding possible. I wore a borrowed gown. It was the only one I tried on. It fit and looked beautiful. There was no need to go shopping. My mother sewed my “going away” outfit. I would wear it after the wedding and on the plane as we flew off on our honeymoon.
As exceptional as he was, when I introduced him to my parents, they struggled because he was Christian and I was raised in a Jewish home. Interfaith marriages were rare, but their trepidation quickly vanished as they got to know him. They came to love him, just as I did.
We had hoped for the same response from his family, but, it was not to be...ever. I tried to show them me, but all they could see was a Jew, who many of them kept at arms length for over five decades.
Back in the elevator. I heard my in-laws friends coming down the hallway. They were loud and raucous, ready to party as guests of my parents. As they drew close, they laughed loudly and one said...”Have you ever seen so many Jews in one place?” Then, they laughed harder.
Inclusion, hope, unity and love were to accompany us down the aisle. A few minutes later, we stood before the rabbi. He read from a passage of the bible that we had selected...words that we felt would unite not only us, but our families. From the Book of Ruth, he spoke, “For wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
Wounded, I stood with my husband, in front of the rabbi, deeply feeling the tragic irony of those words.