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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Israel Bike Ride 2010 – Becca Rosenthal and I go to a wedding

Posted by rabbiart on October 16, 2010

We’ve been supporting Israeli Ethiopian college students for ten years or more.  Last time we were here (2008 bike ride) we met our then-current student and talked to a few of the prior students by telephone.  Of course in our house supporting these students means writing a check and corresponding.  Those who know us know that means Carol writes a check and Carol does the corresponding.  (Note to self – must take more active role going forward).

Carol had mentioned to our current student – Eden Tigret – that we would be in Israel in October. We received a letter and in it an invitation to come to the wedding if we were in Israel on that day.  As fate would have it, I was arriving about 5 hours after the wedding, and Carol wasn’t arriving until a few days later.  Thinking that this would be a small and somehow Ethiopian style wedding, and that it would be an opportunity to meet Eden, I was able to change my flight in order to arrive a day earlier and go the wedding.  Carol was at her company’s meeting in Utah, and couldn’t change her plans.

Now the question was – who could I get to come to the wedding with me?  As I was trying to figure this out, Becca Rosenthal’s dad emailed me asking if I could take a sleeping bag and a few other things with me to give to Becca.  Since I have to take not only regular clothes but biking clothes and biking gear I had to tell him I didn’t have room in my suitcases, but perhaps Becca would like to come to the wedding with me.  Long story short – I tried the “roll the clothes” method of packing, and discovered that I had two extra inches in my suitcase and probably could have taken stuff to Becca. But I didn’t discover this until 3 hours before I was leaving for the airport.

So I drove in to Jerusalem and picked up Becca, we went to the wedding venue. Invitation said the Kabbalat Panim would be at 6:30 and the wedding at 7:30.  Instead the kabbalat panim started around 8 and the wedding ended a little bit after 9 PM.  Instead of a small and Ethiopian style wedding it was at least 300 people. Eden married into a dati family.  There were multiple uncles (and I think also the father) of the groom who are rabbis, and the sheva brachot was apportioned out to four or five (I lost track) rabbis who were uncles or other relatives.

As usual, a once in a lifetime experience produced multiple lessons for ‘next time’.

1. Israeli standard time appears to be at least twice as late as jewish standard time.

2. Its a good idea to get more details about something you (or in this case, me, or grammatically correct, I) will be attending.

3. The standard gift custom is not to buy a gift (Becca bought a kiddush cup for a present) but to arrive at the wedding with cash in hand and put it in the envelopes that are so kindly provided, along with pens to write a note and a lock box (seriously) to put the envelope in.  There was a not so small bin with a few wedding presents in it, so that’s where we deposited our gift.

Since it looked like at least 300 people were in attendance and a few people left after the ceremony we (well, really me, or again, I) decided not to stay for the meal, as it looked like we could be there for 3 or 4 more hours waiting for an opportunity to say hello to Eden for 30 seconds, and as my friends know, I am painfully shy in that kind of situation.  On the way out of the kibbutz a very dati looking chap was hitchhiking, so we stopped, picked him up, and let him give us directions once we got close to Jerusalem.  His directions to where Becca is staying conveniently took us ( and more importantly him) through a dati neighborhood where obviously he lives, and deposited us in an awful traffic jam the rest of the way to where Becca is living in Israel.  I easily made my way back to Tel Aviv and probably within a mile of my hotel, took a wrong turn, got off my printed Google map/directions, and spent close to an hour wandering around trying to navigate by dead reckoning, until even finding a gas station where I could attempt to get directions, which of course didn’t work out.  Finally, desparate to find the rental car map that had to be somewhere in the car, I moved the passenger seat forward and found the map under it in the back seat area.

So I finally made it back to the hotel at about 1 AM in the morning instead of 11:30 PM.

So… an adventure and a good story to tell, but if I had understood what the wedding was really going to be like I would not have agreed to let United Airlines extort more money from me, pay an extra night’s hotel, give up my prime seat in economy plus coach (reserved four or six months in advance).  Hopefully Eden will recognize the present as being from Carol and me, and of course much more importantly, bride and groom will be happy together, raise a (of course) big family and have a good life together.

In the meantime, I haven’t been able to ride my bike for a month because of fracturing a tooth, having it extracted, getting a painful virus as a result.  So the first day of the ride (Jerusalem to Ashkelon and a lot of extreme downhills I’m not practice on) should be quite the adventure, as my plan was to do lots of hill climbing (in order to get more comfortable going downhill) in the last month before the ride.

As they say on the news  here (but I’ll transliterate) ad kan, hachadashot




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