This month’s excursion is not exactly what we planned, but was a really great experience. We originally were hoping to go to the Hermon this month, which is a mountain up north that has skiing. We thought it would be awesome to get a chance to ski while here, not just because it is Israel and who gets to say they went skiing in Israel, but also because this is the first ski season in 22 years that I won’t be going skiing. I knew going into this adventure that this would probably be the case, but Adam was really ready to drive to the Hermon, rent everything (and I mean everything: gloves, ski pants, skis, boots, etc). He checked every day online to see if the slopes were open. The report looked good; the Hermon was getting small storms every few days, and then we had that huge storm. They opened the mountain that weekend, but with our busy schedules we couldn’t get up there right away. Now that it has been warm for the last few days, we expect things to be closed again. Oh well, there may be another chance this year and if not, then there is always next year.
So, for January, our excursion was a bit less formalized than normal, but still a wonderful experience nonetheless. We have two friends from West Hartford, Kelly and Nissim, who had there wedding here in Israel on January 17th. The wedding was in Rehovot; a place we had never visited before. If the week wasn’t so incredibly hectic, we would have headed down to the city earlier than the wedding to explore a little, but because Adam had to spend time in Tel Aviv earlier in the week for a Fulbright thing, he needed the morning to get some work done. On the Monday before, we started looking at our public transportation options. Getting to Rehovot would be easy, but getting home would be a bit of a challenge. The wedding began at 7:30 and the last bus out of Rehovot to Jerusalem was at 10:00. Since that seemed too early to leave, our plan was to get a cab to Tel Aviv and then a bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On Wednesday a good friend of ours, Harry Weller, who was accompanying us to the wedding suggested that we rent a car. What a great idea! Why didn’t we think of that sooner?? The reality is that Adam and I have gotten so use to relying on public transportation or walking wherever we need to go that the thought of renting a car never crossed our minds. This was the perfect time to give it a try, however, since it would give us the flexibility that we needed to enjoy the wedding and get home with minimal stress.
So Wednesday night when Adam got home from work at around 9 pm, we put in our reservation. Adam got the car after he left the university on Thursday at around 4:30. I was a bit worried that it was taking a while, but he told me that he had to wait a little extra to get an automatic car since neither of us know how to drive a standard. The car was cute and would definitely accommodate our needs. Because we were driving, we didn’t have to leave quite so early to get to Rehovot on time. We picked Harry up and used the ipad that we rented to navigate our way to the restaurant. It is sad to say that I am pretty lousy at using an ipad. I wouldn’t be quite so embarrassed by how difficult I found it if I didn’t know that my 2 and 1/2 year old nephew is a pro at it and has been so for quite some time now. I guess when we go home for a visit, he will have to give me lessons.
The drive to the wedding was pretty smooth. I was a bit nervous, even though I was a passenger, because neither Adam nor I have driven in 4 months. Adam really enjoyed it though. He said it was great to be behind the wheel again. We didn’t have too much trouble either. People say that Israeli drivers are horrible, basically the equivalent to New York drivers, but we didn’t seem to see that. The reality is that Israel drivers can be impatient, and so they seem pretty aggressive to someone who doesn’t exactly know where the streets are or what they are looking for. That being said, I’m still happy that Adam did all the driving. We made good time to Rehovot and only hit a bit of a slow down once we were in the city. We dropped Harry off at the restaurant and went to find parking. It was amazing how quickly you could sense the difference between Rehovot and Jerusalem. We only saw a few streets, but you could feel that the area was much more metropolitan, so it felt a lot more like Tel Aviv than Jerusalem. The streets were more grid-like too which is nothing like Jerusalem. It was convenient to have that grid-like system, however, since we had to park a few streets over. We easily navigated our way back to the restaurant and were greeted immediately by the bride and groom.
A few moments after our arrival, Kelly and Nissim had to leave to take care of some official wedding business, so we joined Harry for a few finger foods and some drinks (I had water of course and Adam had a beer, which was his first one in Israel!). Shortly after our snacking, Nissim and Kelly came back out and did the bedeken, which is the part of the Jewish wedding ceremony when the groom veils the bride. Then they walked up the stairs to their chuppah, and the ceremony began.
Kelly and Nissim’s wedding was our second wedding here in Israel, but our first Israeli wedding. While Kelly is from Connecticut, Nissim is Israeli and most of the guests were his friends and family. When we arrived, we felt truly American; Adam was wearing a suit and I was wearing a nice outfit. Most of the guests were wearing jeans and a nice top, although one or two were a little more dressed up. It wasn’t a typical Israeli wedding, however, where there are a lot of wedding crashers who come to join the merriment. It was a nice, small ceremony. The entire thing was in Hebrew. It was hard to get a good view of the couple during the ceremony because they were surrounded by the kids in attendance which was actually a really beautiful sight. The rabbi that performed the ceremony broke out in song between the kiddushin and the sheva brachot, which was a bit amusing. My favorite part of the ceremony was when Nissim took the tallis that he will now wear as a married man and wrapped it around both of them as the rabbi performed part of the ceremony. It was the first time I had ever seen that happen. It was very beautiful!
After the ceremony was over, everyone went inside to find a seat. We got a chance to congratulate Kelly and meet her father, who is the sweetest person in the world. He seemed to be having a good time in Israel, and we were really glad we got a chance to meet him. I got to be helpful at this point, which was really fun. Kelly wore very girly shoes for the ceremony and not surprisingly they were hurting her feet by the end of it. I helped her get them off and change into more comfortable shoes. It is only a small bit of help, but it felt really great to help the bride find happiness on her wedding day.
The rest of the evening was filled with good food, music, and dancing. Adam and I sat with Harry and Noam Benjamin, who is another friend of ours from West Hartford. Noam is in Israel studying at Bar Ilan University for the year. It was really great to see him and catch up with him. We had a wonderful meal of steak and chocolate volcano cake and ice cream (pareve of course!). We also met some of Nissim’s friends who sat at our table. We didn’t dance too much because it really isn’t our thing, but it was really sweet to watch Nissim and Kelly dancing together. It was also really touching to watch them dance with Nissim’s grandmother. The evening was filled with laughter and happiness. The only regret that we had is that it went by so quickly. We wish we got more time with the bride and groom before they had to leave for the states!
When we finally did get ready to leave, we said our goodbyes and mazel tovs. Nissim profoundly said that while it is traditional in Judaism to end with the saying “next year in Jerusalem!” that it is probably more fitting for us to say “next year in West Hartford!” What makes it so profound is that Adam and I hope to make a visit home next year at this time, and so we may be able to see Nissim and Kelly, Harry, and Noam again next year in West Hartford. As we all know, all roads lead to Beth David. 🙂
The drive home was peaceful since it was late and there weren’t many people on the road. We didn’t have too much trouble finding parking on our street which was great, and we were able to get to bed by about 1:30 am. The cool thing is when we got home, both my parents were home from work so we were able to do a quick video chat before going to bed. It was a nice end to a great evening.
Until next time…Allison
Here are a few pictures from our time at the wedding. There aren’t any specifically of Rehovot since we didn’t really explore too much. Who needs exploring when you have great friends to visit with though!