From Melville to Twain, visiting Americans are sometimes disappointed by the City of Gold.
Summertime, and my hometown is filled with tourists from the Old Country. Women in wide-brimmed hats and men in Ralph Lauren shirts clutching bottles of water, poring over maps. They wedge notes into the Western Wall, trudge the Via Dolorosa, browse the Arab shuk, eat long lunches in the German Colony. You can spot them a mile away. God bless them all.
The blissful idleness, and useless information dump, of a frequent flyer.
A few months ago, I opened my rusty mailbox to find a blue and white envelope containing a gold plastic card embossed with my last name, and, above it, in flowery letters, FREQUENT FLYER CLUB GOLD. I showed the card to my wife in a pathetic gesture, hoping that this sign of appreciation from an objective, outside party would soften her harsh opinion of me, but it didn’t really work.
“I advise you not to show this card to anyone,” she said.
“Why not?” I argued. “This card makes me a member of an exclusive club.”
Deep travel, as Tony Hiss explains in a forthcoming book, “In Motion: The Experience of Travel” (Knopf), is a way of seeing the world, noticing everything, with gratitude. His mindful travel sounds almost like prayer. “It’s a great discovery,” he writes, “finding that we’ve been gifted with senses that are already capable — without any retrofitting — of acting either as a wall or an open door.”
Keitzad m’rakdim lifnei ha-kallah? “How does one dance before the bride?”
This question, seemingly simple, is in fact a classic formulation of the array of normative procedures, customs and traditions surrounding the marriage ceremony and its attendant activities. Journal Watcher, in a seemingly counterintuitive way, turns first to Yemen for a look at something old, something new.
For agunot, the wedding is the easy part; it’s the divorce that’s a Herculean challenge.
When Sharon thinks back to her wedding night, she remembers how the lights of Jerusalem enveloped her, how she adored her groom, and also this: a kiss. After Sharon removed her deck tichel, the opaque cloth that fervently Orthodox brides wear to hide their faces, her new-mother-in-law grabbed her, planted a kiss on her cheek and whispered, “You’re part of the family now.”
My husband, a convert, is more observant than I am.
It is not because Claude was born Catholic that I consider us intermarried. No, it’s the conversion to Judaism that that did it. Though the smoke has cleared for a while—now that Shavuot is over, we are blissfully holiday-free until September—I know that when the High Holidays come, the differences between our commitment to religious practice will make themselves known once again.
Looking beyond the ceremony to the realities of marriage.
Rabbi Joanna Samuels
Weddings are perfect moments in time: celebrations of love, certainly, but also carefully crafted productions that express status, values and religious identity. Saturday-night dinner dance or Sunday afternoon in the backyard? Factory-farmed prime rib or sustainable wild salmon? Seven circles around the groom or none at all? Nothing is too insignificant to help a couple display their identity.