Permit me to share my daughter’s wedding with you. It was an incredible experience for me and with the chutzpah for which I am famous, I assume you are interested in it!!
TALI AND YOAV?S WEDDING
In my usual laid back manner, I got to Ramat Rachel about 45 minutes early. I sat in the lobby and waited for everyone to come downstairs and start the photo session. Suddenly, there was Tali Riva in her wedding gown standing in front of me. It was the first time I had seen her gown. I actually gasped. My daughter was a vision of beauty, radiant and beaming. She said, ?Dad, let?s go get some pictures.? So off we went and we had the time to enjoy each other?s company while the photographer worked.
I had some things to say to my daughter at that moment. Fatherly sort of things like ?I love you now and I will love you forever.? There was much more, but you can probably guess what it was.
What does a father think when he sees his daughter in her wedding gown for the first time? I think my dominant thought was that it was finally happening, that my daughter was a bride and in a few hours I would have a new son. The rush of emotions was fantastic and the photographer said I should probably find a smaller smile for the photos.
After Tali and I finished our photos, there were many others who wanted to be photographed with Tali. Everyone except Yoav. He was being kept far away in another part of the hotel, away from Tali. The first time he would see her would be at the bedeckin.
From Tali I went to the Chatan?s tisch. The rabbi of Efrat, Rabbi Riskin took charge in a most confident manner. The ketubah was signed, the mothers broke a dish together, and we set off for Tali so that Yoav could do the bedeckin.
Along the way, Rabbi Riskin (who is a cohen) gave Yoav his blessing. Then Eli gave his son the blessing, and then I gave Yoav a blessing. We all hugged and kissed as we were led by a huge crowd of dancing friends. Once we reached Tali, Eli, the Rabbi and I each blessed her, too. I took the time to offer my private prayer to God for her and her husband to be.
Then it was off to the chupah. I took Tali to the aisle and half way down the aisle. Her mother and step father took her down the other half of the aisle. Yoav came down from the chupah and took her up to it. What was really nice was that everyone seemed to know that Tali and her father have a really wonderful relationship, and there was a fair amount of applause for us as we walked down the aisle. I think I may have waved to the crowd at one point- I am not sure if I did or not. It was sort of a haze for me at that point.
Under the chupah, there was a crowd of people: Eli and Mirjam, I, Evie and Joe (Tali?s mom and step dad), Shai (who announced the honors given under the chupah) and six other people who were there to sing. The musicians were on the side of the chupah. All in all, adding Rabbi Riskin, we were quite a crowd.
What was really special for me was seeing the way Tali and Yoav looked at each other under the chupah. Never have I seen such love on people?s faces. A friend who stood at the back of the 400 person crowd said she could see the glow all the way in the back. I have never seen that look on Tali?s face (after all, the loving looks she gives me are different!), and I liked seeing it. It filled me with a confidence for them that theirs is, indeed, a marriage arranged in Heaven. Later on, during his toast, Shai (her brother) also mentioned the incredible look that Tali shows to Yoav. It was that special!!
The photographer said that he has never seen two people so in love. The fiddler (a Chasidic fellow in full mufti) later said that seeing the way the two of them looked at each other inspired him.
As the ceremony ended, a flood of young people ran to the chupah and dancing broke out under the chupah. I have never seen anything like that before and I was amazed at how suddenly 70 people fit under the chupah. As I danced with Yoav, he looked at me and said, ?I love you, dad.? And my world became bright and filled with song. Nothing will ever take that memory away from me. I danced with Tali and she said, ?Dad, tonight you will dance with me finally. Let?s show them how much we love each other.? Once again, my world grew bright and I heard music. Then again, it may have been the musicians!
I was so happy: what more could I ask for than to see my daughter stand under the chupah with the man she loves? I pray for them and ask God to bless them with the bounty of His love.
What can I say about the party? The party is a blur. Funny how the time flew by so fast. There were only four dances. Three of them were over 35 minutes each. No fooling- 35 minutes or more!
I got to dance with my beloved daughter finally! What a thrill that was. While Tali and I danced, people clapped for us. As our dance wound down, I took her face in my hands and blessed her once again. We kissed and she said, ?I love you.? I cried. Of course. Afterwards several people commented that they could feel our love for each other as we danced and as I blessed her. The banquet manager came over to me as I went back to the men?s circle and said that he had just seen something special and that he had asked the photographer for pictures for his office wall. Wow!!
Later on, Yoav and I danced. Soon, I was high in the air on the shoulders of some very strong young men. Yoav was hoisted high in the air. We danced for quite a while and then his father was also hoisted and joined our dance. It was amazing. I felt like I was flying. Never have I felt so much electricity in myself.
As the party wore on, much of what happened remains a blur. I remember seeing some of the most inspired and inspiring dancing I have ever seen. At one point, Tali broke into the men?s circle and asked Yoav to take a seat. She then danced for him with several of her friends. Later on, Yoav danced for her in the women?s circle. I have never seen so much dancing. There were circles intertwined with circles. Some did somersaults. Someone else juggled. Suddenly Cookie Monster appeared in the woman?s circle and did a truly funny dance. And on and on.
Charlie Greinsky of Staten Island got up and read a letter from Senator Hillary Clinton and announced that a similar letter was waiting for the happy couple from former President Clinton. (The signature had been delayed and the letter did not get to Charlie on time.) In addition, he announced that of the three extant signed copies of President Clinton?s book in Hebrew, one of them is signed to Yoav.
And still the dancing went on. Yoav asked me to dance with him again, and so we did. Yoav and friend Milton did the dance of the whirling dervish and the entire crowd cheered them on. As Milton?s kipah flew through the air, and Yoav actually left the ground briefly, the crowd roared its approval.
Some of Yoav?s Efrat crew wrote some silly songs and performed them for him and Tali. Actually, the Blues Brothers imitation wasn?t too bad! As for the rest: well, let?s just say that they were very enthusiastic!!
Through it all, I kept watching my daughter. As you all know, Tali is a most happy person, but throughout the wedding she was glowing. There is no other word to describe her. For me, I got to see my daughter as fabled storybook princess. And I loved it!!
The wedding started at 6:30 and all too soon it was midnight and time for birkat hamazon and the first of this week?s sheva brachos. There was a whole lot of kissing and love certainly filled the air. For a while, at least, it was easy to believe that the world is a very beautiful place. And, why not, for Tali and Yoav will give their love to it!
Baruch attah adoshem eloheinu melech ha-olam, sh?he?cheyanu v?kimanu v?higee?anu lazman hazeh. Blessed art Thou O Lord our God who has allowed me to reach this joyous occasion.