Friday, March 23, 2007

Goat farm wedding

Good friends invited us to the wedding of their daughter who lives on a goat farm near Yodfat in a beautiful corner of the western Galil.

The groom's family comes from Yodfat whose residents worked en masse for days to turn the simple farm into the set for one of the more unconventional Jewish weddings I've been to. We missed the entry of the groom on a camel but arrived in time to catch this line of local Bedouin neighbours doing a wedding debka.

There were lots of musicians down on the farm, many of them wielding instruments picked up in India. Here a tabla player and a local Arab flute player accompany the dancers. Many of the young people were of the shanti shanti type, i.e. 21st century hippies deeply influenced by India.

Here's the girls' debka circle with the beautiful bride in white. About 500 people showed up for this wedding which turned into a celebration for the whole village, like a wedding in an Arab village or on kibbutz for that matter.

As the sun set the crowd gathered around the chuppa (click the photo and you'll see it) where there was a simple ceremony carried out by a cheerful orthodox rabbi. There were several ultra-orthodox haredi families in the crowd together with the shanti shantis , the Bedouin and the city slickers like us.

The traditional seven blessings were recited by family members, the groom sanctified the bride with a ring , broke the glass and India was instantaneously transformed into the shtetl . As a klezmer quartet belted out the Jewish wedding classics, ecstatic, whirling hora circles carried the bride and groom aloft.

The food, by the way, was great. A trestle table about 50 metres long was heaped with excellent breads created by a celebrity baker together with wonderful goats cheese, olives, and almonds from the farm. Old casks could be tapped for excellent wine made by the groom. Soon, trays of kubeh appeared and for the main course (consumed on cushions in huge Moroccan style tents) there were platters of savoury rice with raisins and almonds, tangy salads and excellent meat tajines, all prepared in a nearby field.

The dancing, fuelled by shots of ouzo, continued into the night but we had to get back to the big city. Before leaving we paid a visit to the permanent residents (children of the tajines?) as they bedded down for the night.

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