Since starting my librarianship at the Nancy Mae Shaines Memorial Library at Temple Israel, I have been thirsting to know more and more. Surrounded by vast knowledge documented in so many worlds, I had trouble knowing where to begin. I remembered little from Hebrew school and had historic time frames confused. I began to pick up facts, peering through books I was supposed to be cataloging, and suddenly found a solid reason to study and a deadline to meet.
Deciding with a short time frame to embrace and display my Jewishness by integrating Jewish tradition into my upcoming wedding ceremony, I began to explore the library to learn what I could do.
My husband, a non-Jew, found a good book in Living a Jewish Life by Anita Diamant. He found it to be unassuming and interesting, giving a solid walk through the Jewish lifestyle and faith. As he asked me some questions about holidays, I realized I ought to give this book a read as well. I should be able to tell him more about Purim than dressing up, going to carnivals, and using noise-makers.
I found solace in Diamant’s comprehensive Jewish wedding book. It contains chapters on every aspect of a Jewish wedding, including everything from how to choose a rabbi and a Ketubah (marriage contract), to descriptions of Jewish songs, dances, and food for the reception.
Most importantly, however, Diamant gives a brief history of different traditions that let me put them in perspective, making it clear how little was necessary to make a marriage legally binding in Jewish law and helping me choose what elements I want to include.
My husband and I really bonded through this pre-wedding experience, making our own personal contracts upon suggestion from Rabbi Barry, and talking through which symbolic acts were most important to us as a couple. We even bought a beautiful blue bulb as a wedding glass so we could have the shards made into a mezuzah, but the darn thing wouldn’t break on the flexible boards of the rabbi’s deck. He was so kind to give us a light bulb with which to do the act!
We married under the tallit (prayer shawl) I received at my bat mitzvah, drinking from my kiddush cup and my sister’s, surrounded by our families and the glory of Great Bay… really everything I wanted! (Aside from the 5000 degree day and a whole bunch of horseflies haha)