I used to sing that song when I was young, not really understanding the significance of those words. What did our future hold? How far ahead did we dare to peak?
So, to begin 2014 with an abundance of good thoughts, I decided this article will be devoted to my grandson and his new bride, Evan and Lindsay, and their beautiful Jewish marriage.
We dreamed of marriage, cottages in suburbia, the birth of our children, how many mouths could we afford to feed and send to college. We sat down and mathematically calculated when we have a third child could we still afford our dog.
Where would we be for our children’s bar Mitzvahs, marriage and finally, our retirement? I never dreamed past that, it seemed so very far off. But this past October a dream I never ever anticipated came true. We walked down the sacred aisle at our grandson’s wedding.
I remember his mom giving me a small package as we drove somewhere. “It is a gift,” she said. But there was no occasion I could think of. She continued, “Open it, it’s a special jewel.” Yes, it was a jewel. “You are going to be a grandmother.” I still have that cherished note tucked away with my special memories.
I remember Evan’s birth, dashing to the hospital, three in the morning, to see a tiny image through a glass window. I remember his mom, calling at 12:00 AM three days later, “Would you take him for the night? We need some sleep! “
I took a large cardboard box and made a cradle for my grandson to sleep near our bed. And now it is his and his bride’s turn to sore this universe.
But I personally never really gave the time to understand the significance of my most sacred event in my life. Therefore for my grandchildren’s wedding, I decide to research each part of a wedding:
Starting with the Matchmaker, “shadchanim” which we still have today. Only we call it “J Date” or finding your “bashert,” soul mate, on line. A “shadchan,” modern computer, arranged a “shidduch,” introduction on the web. The matchmaker was a way for couples from various communities to meet.
Once deciding upon who will be the other half to make one self whole, a wedding is planned with the traditional Jewish marriage ceremony consisting of several parts:
The Huppah, the wedding canopy representing the future home of the young couple. As with the Jewish tradition of hospitality, it is made of four poles, Cedar representing the groom and pine for the bride. It is open on all sides for the tent of Sarah and Abraham, welcoming all visitors. I recently read that when a baby is born, plant a tree in Israel. When the child marries, secure a twig from the tree, to be placed on the Huppah. What a wonderful idea!
Today the groom and bride’s tallit, prayer shawl, may be included in the Huppah. A lovely thought! Or perhaps the Huppah at the wedding can then be sewn to create tallit for the bride and groom or their children.
Before the ceremony there is the signing of the Ketubbah, the marriage contract. The rabbi reads the document to the immediate family and friends. Today, beautiful ketubbahs, ready for framing, may be purchased on line.
Sheva Brachot is the ceremony where the bride and groom sip wine after each of the seven blessings are recited by the rabbi. The blessings refer to a time when life was perfect, the Garden of Eden before Eve ate the apple. It is the hope that life will once again be perfect.
The Kiddush cups used for my grand children’s wedding were the cups we gave Evan’s parents when they were married. Did we ever dream that we would be at the wedding, where they would be used again?
The ring, today it is two rings. Equality, sharing, both a bride and a groom receive a ring. The rings used for the ceremony are usually simple ones.
The circling ceremony is when the bride is to the right of the groom as she is considered his right hand. They then circle each other seven times. Originally, it was the woman who only circled, as she was to go around her husband. Glad today he circles her too!
This ceremony was not included when we were married. Was it because this was the beginning of women’s rights and we did not circle our mates, or maybe our rabbi just forgot!
Breaking the glass was always my favorite part of a wedding ceremony. The groom breaks the glass to signify the destruction of the Temple and everyone shouts.”MAZEL TOV!” Today the glass may be of special glass for the pieces to be placed in the Mezuzah that will adorn their front door. This glass may also be purchased on line with various price tags. I still remember the small light bulb they used to break at my wedding!
The Mezuzah signifies that the home is a holy place. The case may be plain or beautifully decorated. Some are absolutely magnificent, colorful and so spiritual. It is tacked onto the right doorpost as you enter a home; slanted with the top pointing toward the inside of the home and should be on the top third of the doorpost. It is considered a special blessing of safety for the homeowners, and contains the section of the Shema which includes the Jewish faith and practices. Some of my non-Jewish friends even attach them to their front door.
Yes, a wedding is one of the most beautiful moments in grandparent’s lives and we were blessed to celebrate it with the two delightful families. But all wonderful events also have their sad moments. And our families had our share.
The message that life goes on, and although my darling daughter-in-law was looking from the heavens and watching her son marry our new granddaughter, we realized our Jewish life must continue. And as the autumn turns the leaves to wither and fall from our trees, so do our hearts learn to understand that new leaves form and new buds grow into new beautiful bushes; and a New Year is arriving
So my darling grandchildren you will grow new lives and nurture new blossoms. And Evan, your mom was ‘watching you’ every moment from her special place in heaven. Mazel Tov to the bride and groom.