Friday, September 4, 2009

A busy week of continued beginnings and renewed connections. It seems as thought the beginnings should be diminshing and the reconnecting increasing, but in fact they both seem to be increasing. It reminds of learning Hebrew in Israel 30 years ago. I set a goal that I would understand everything that was talked about at at the Friday meeting of the guys who worked together in the bananas. After a year, I understood everything, but then I realized that there were so many other conversations that I was not understanding. It seemed to spiral on upwards forever, until I came to a point of fluency or at least a level of professional and personal comfort with my fluency - to speak in public, write a book, counsel people etc. I can still learn more, but I am in a good place. Although I am confortable with hte process of reintegrating, feel real progress and rythym, I wonder how long. Is it forever? Are we always in the process of adaptation and integrating? Does this period just excentuate what was always present, or is this really a distinct period in our lives that will pass over time?

This week I attended a wedding on the kibbutz. The family story is way too complicated to share in blog, but like any public ritual it was a great oportunity to reflect on Israeli culture and the fascinating combinations and interactions that take place.

Both of the families live on kibbutz - one lives on my secular kibbutz and the other on a "religious kibbutz". I put both the woords "secular" and "religious" in parantheses because I do not accept the sterotypical defintions used for these differences in Jewish focus, but for now let's just say that this is an issue to return to. The bride had been born in an Orthodox family, but since her teenager years she has lived on my kibbutz and moved far away from Orthodox religious practices. The groom had grown up on an Orthodox kibbutz and had also moved away from an observant lifestyle.

The wedding took place outdoors in a beautiful garden adjacent to the kibbutz swimming pool (closed for the evening) with the sound of the sea in the background and the kibbutz made Ferris wheel carting excited children up into the sky.

The music seemed to say alot about the background - an eclectic mixture of the Eagles singing "Hotel California", a modern day klezmer group song, Shlomo Artzi singing some old Hebrew classics - all this before they interrupted the reggae background to announce that the guest were invited to the chupa.

If all of this cultural diversity was a bit much for the mostly modern Orthodox crowd, they did not show any discomfort. In fact many of them swayed with the reggae even as they readied themselves for the Sheva Brachot. Of course, after the ceremony the the traditional "Sisu Ve' Simcha" were sung .

Often we feel here, and portay ourselves to others, as living in worlds in which the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox are seperated by walls. There is more than a small amount of truth to that depiction, but there is also is also much that brings us together and allows to worlds and their representatives to intermingle happily on the wedding lawn and feel the joy of another couple starting out on their collective path.

Of course, if we had talked politics, it would have been different, but for everything there is a time and a place and I am happy that we were there together.

I also learned about the current standards of present giving. There is a complicated formula based on the number of people, closeness to the bride/groom and level of involvement that dictate the appropriate sum. In fact, I learned that there is a web site that allows you to answer a number of questions and it will give you the appropriate sum. It feels very impersonal, but it is politically correct and that is important here too.

Tonight we will go to Friday night services at a Conservative synagigue i Zichron Yaakov. I will write about that and maybe about "religious" and "secular" on Sunday. Shabbat is for resting - and oh yes going to the beach!

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