My Own Jewish Wedding

I didn't believe that this day would come, but I finally got married with my basherte last night, August 18, which falls on tu be'av, or the day of love, in Jewish calendar! Our wedding was conducted in a traditional Ashkenazic style at the pictureque Israel Museum in Jerusalem and was attended by a rather small circle of closest relatives, mentors, friends, colleagues, and (ex-)teachers. As our guests speak at least six different mother tongues, we had to prepare an invitation to our wedding as well as its program in these six languages (English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Esperanto, Russian, and Japanese).

I met Lena, my wife from Moscow, last summer in Jerusalem. We worked together intensively for about one month on Hebrew-Yiddish contact linguistics. After this joint work ended, we decided to start our romantic relationship. It was on August 18 last year, so the date of our wedding was actually our first anniversary. One day after the official start of our romantic relationship, it became a long distance relationship as she had to leave Jerusalem for her native Moscow, then for Paris, where she studied this academic year. Until she finally moved to Jerusalem in late June, I visited her in Paris five times, she visited me in Jerusalem twice, and we visited Moscow together twice. Now we finally live together in Jerusalem, speaking mostly in Yiddish with each other.

In addition to the ceremony itself, the most unforgettable thing at this wedding of ours was traditional Ashkenazic dance accompanyied by traditional klezmer music played by Oydivision, which is probably the only authentic klezmer music band in Israel. I participated in all the three workshops on traditional Ashkenazic dance taught by Prof. Walter Zev Feldman, one of the best traditional Ashkenazic dancers in the whole world, in 2008, 2009 and 2010 in Jerusalem. When I saw him dance for the first time, I told myself that I would like to dance this way in my own Jewish wedding. It took me eight years since then, but I could finally realize my dream by dancing with my wife, then solo. At least the improvisational style of this traditional Ashkenazic dance is characterized by minimalism in sharp contrast with what I consider vulgar dance we see in many Jewish weddings in Israel. "Our" dance seems deceivingly simple, but it's very difficult to imitate. It took me years to learn to dance as I dance now, but I'm still light years behind my dance teacher.

So what's next after the wedding? We are expected to have the so-called "Seven Blessings" at the house of my mentor, Rabbi Yehoshua Eichenstein, who conducted our wedding ceremony, and at Chorev, the shul in Jerusalem where I've been davening regularly, though only on Sabbaths and holidays since ten years ago. We are also planning to meet my sister and her husband, who came all the way from Tokyo, my wife's mother from Moscow, and some of the other guests from abroad. Next Thursday, August 25, we are going on a kind of honeymoon trip, which is actually a research trip. The first destination is my wife's native Moscow, where I'm planning to work at the Russian State Library, looking for and checking those books on lexicography and onomastics, two of my main research interests, that are not found in Israeli university libraries. And the second destination is Tbilisi, where we will participate, though only passively, in Euralex 2016.