The multiple ethnic influences on Jewish identity have been evident here at Etz Hayyim in the character of various weddings that have been celebrated here. We have had Orthodox, Reform, Liberal and Conservative weddings to date…and in most cases dancing and singing seem to be the expression of community joy over what is essentially for Jews, a family and social event rather than defined precisely by Torah. How the bride is conducted to the Synagogue is a main event and we have had serpentine parades through the convoluted streets of the Old City with banners and singing as well as Cretan, Russian, Moroccan and Israeli dancing in the street in front of the Synagogue and even the arrival of the bride on a horse drawn carriage!
This year we had the quite festive wedding of Joseph and Ariana Tepperman from Los Angeles along with some 40 family and friends who were brought in tow. Things began quite sedately with the hangings for the Chuppah support. The mother of the bride, Donicé Kaufman had written well beforehand for its measurements and so had brought with her a quite elaborate silk hand painted hanging for the backing. Plans were then drawn up for champagne and hors d’oeuvres party in the courtyard of the Synagogue. We also chose seven members of the wedding party to read out the Seven Blessings as well as the choice of a restaurant to hold the banquet in.
Mention had not been made of the presence of the two brothers of the bride who had with them a further three members of their jazz combo. Nor did we know that they were professionals and toured the States and Europe. Thus it was quite a surprise when our part of the Old City was snapped to awareness during the still quiet sleepy afternoon hours with trumpets, tuba, bass and other wind instruments with quite wild music that accompanied the bride and groom along the harbour front, down the narrow streets eventually arriving at the Synagogue by which time many Haniotes had joined the wedding party. The breaking of the glass by the groom was a signal for the orchestra to break out into quite wonderful music in the Synagogue and dancing began which even involved chairs in which bride and groom as well as their parents were lifted into the air and danced about. By this time music and the sounds of general merriment had attracted a good number of Haniotes from the neighbourhood and elsewhere as well as the local TV news crew, which showed up to filmed much of it. The Tepperman wedding is going to be well remembered by all of us here.
Photos courtesy of Aggeliki Psaraki