16 May More Than Just a Wedding
How many rabbis does it take to perform a wedding?
For Daniella and Noam, Jewish Agency for Israel Shlichim in Wilmington, Delaware, it took eight.
"We wanted to do something special," says Noam. "It was important for us to do a Jewish ceremony, but we were less connected to the traditional sect of Judaism when we were living in Israel; although we celebrate all the holidays, we are not religious, so that's how we eventually decided to get married in the United States.”
The couple had originally planned for a Conservative rabbi to perform the ceremony at a small wedding with just a few friends and then later marry again in Cyprus with their families. But plans changed when, to their surprise, their experience in the U.S. put them on a journey to rediscover Judaism.
"We saw that there are streams of Judaism that we did not know, like the Reconstructionist Movement… but even streams that we did know about such as Reform and Conservative... Here, there’s a very accepting atmosphere, and it made us rediscover Judaism,” said Daniella.
When they saw how excited people in the community were at their impending nuptials, the small ceremony they’d decided on soon grew to 200 guests, including students, synagogue members, and others from all denominations. The event became a celebration of not just Daniella and Noam’s union, but a true moment of Jewish pluralism that brought together the community.
Israel and Diaspora Jewry are now at a critical place in their relationship. As Israelis who live and work in this community, we decided that we wanted to show unity and that we Israelis love Diaspora Jewry.
"Israel and Diaspora Jewry are now at a critical place in their relationship. As Israelis who live and work in this community, we decided that we wanted to show unity and that we Israelis love Diaspora Jewry," Daniella explained. “At our wedding, when we mixed all the streams of Judaism under our canopy, we proved that we see Diaspora Jews as an integral part of the construction of our home, both the private home and the construction of the Jewish home in Israel."
Though the two’s families were not present and it was difficult to be far from home, they felt lucky to have those they considered their family in America at their wedding and to be surrounded by so much love. And of course, being able to use the service as a way to bring together different movements of Judaism made the day even more memorable.
"People were really surprised to see all the rabbis up there. There were members of communities of all kinds, and attendees were really excited to see their stream of Judaism represented there, and happy to see their rabbi perform a blessing or be part of the ceremony," said Noam. And Daniella added, "A lot of people told us that we’d done something extraordinary, because there was an amazing sense of unity there.”