June Wedding at Etz Hayyim
In early June we had a festive wedding in the Synagogue. Since last year plans had been afoot for this event and though there were some initial halachic and even canonical problems we broached these with no difficulty. The couple, Mathieu and Alexandra Touboul of Paris and we avoided the question of a proper Jewish wedding (with ketubah etc.) by concentrating on the Seven Blessings. The couple had been married according to French law and so what we envisaged doing was some ritual that would indicate the Abrahamic tradition. Mathieu and Alexandra arrived with a bevy of 49 friends from Paris – all members of the Algerian Jewish community. As Alexandra’s family was originally from Rethymnon her grandmother and several relatives were also in attendance and they all assembled on the Friday evening for Erev Shabbat services – all of them dressed in very chic white outfits. With many of her girlfriends the bride performed a mikveh in the sea at Nea Hora reciting the traditional Hebrew prayer. On the Sunday afternoon our synagogue was packed with even more chic looking Parisians in fine suits and frocks and the bride arrived with her father, Mr N. Flouris, dressed in a fine wedding gown and veiled….quite appropriately late. In front of the ceremonial huppa four friends held up a talleth that symbolizes the tent of Abraham and we brought back an ancient Cretan Jewish custom of having the bride and groom wear floral crowns bound together by a single ribbon. Seven close friends stood in a circle around the bride and groom and formally recited the Seven Blessings (in Hebrew) and these were repeated by everyone in the synagogue – one by one. After the traditional breaking of the glass by the groom everyone assembled in the courtyard to have pre-cocktail drinks. The wedding dinner was held at the Panorama Hotel where they were all staying and much after midnight its swimming pool was filled with our wedding party – save for the children.