What makes a Simcha Jewish?
Posted by lchaimlover on June 14, 2007
Vanina and Sharon prepare to cut their wedding cake.
I have returned from the land of tango and steak (aka Argentina). You didn’t even know I was gone did you? What brought me down there you ask? Why a wedding of course! Vanina Sandel (aka Asst Director of Hillel of Silicon Valley) married her sweetie Sharon Mutchnik. It was a beautiful wedding, the likes of which I will probably never experience again. What made it special for me is the subject of this post.
When traveling to a foreign country it is very easy to be overwhelemed, and that I was. I didn’t know the language, the city was huge and bustling with activity, and taxis were a life or death situation. It’s easy to feel like an outsider or stranger, looking for familiar faces on unknown streets.
Then came the wedding. While a good portion of the ceremony was in Spanish, a few things rang familiar. Shechiyanu, brachas, chuppahs, and broken glasses. “Sunrise, Sunset” in Yiddish while the groom covered his bride with his white tallit. The family raised their glasses for L’chaims. The guests danced circles around the happy couple to Havah Nagilah, Mazel Tov Und Simon Tov, and Moshiach, Mashiach. Friends scooped up bride, groom, parents, and family in chairs and paraded them above our heads.
That is what I went to Argentina for, to celebrate in this great simcha that marked a new step in one happy couple’s life. And while I didn’t understand all the words, the shining faces of the happy couple and their family needed no translation. Some customs were familiar, and some were new, but we were all Jews, celebrating an ancient rite of passage, joining together despite our various countries of origin. It turns out that Jewish is a universal language.