Conversion to Judaism is not easy. It requires a change in beliefs, actions and lifestyle. It involves extensive study, practice, a leap of faith, a shift in perception and some sacrifice.
Born into a poor Moroccan immigrant family that settled in the development town of Dimona, Yardena Ovadia always dreamed of giving her daughter a fairy-tale wedding.
After Talya Ilovitz (née Strauss) got engaged, the hunt for a dress for her Orthodox wedding felt endless. She never imagined her best option would be a sleeveless white cocktail dress a few sizes too big. But after searching widely, every other possibility was either too expensive or didn’t have sleeves.
When Miriam Sushman and her then-fiancé, Owen, were planning a summer wedding, they searched for an outdoor venue that would reflect their love of nature.
For Rabbi Mike Comins and his bride-to-be, Jody Porter, the decision to commission a custom ketubah was a no-brainer. Comins, who had advised many couples about matrimonial matters over the course of his career, firmly believed in the centrality of a ketubah to the covenant of marriage. Porter agreed, adding that “since a spiritual journey was part of our courtship, it was important for us to have this [a ketubah] be a part of our wedding.”
Israeli wedding dresses typically run the gamut from over-the-top ballroom showstoppers to gracefully minimalist renditions. While these three prominent Israeli designers showcase very different trends, they all appeal to the masses with their signature styles. From Victor Bellaish’s specialty boho-centric creations to Lihi Hod’s extra-romantic sheaths and Hila Gaon’s streamlined, modern garments, Israeli wedding design is inspired by the past and the present, by the local market and European craftsmanship — but, most significantly, by the brides themselves. With that said, expect some inventive and sassy designs (truly sabra). And take note, most Israeli wedding dress designers rent their dresses out per occasion (although there is always the option to buy, as is the custom in the United States and Europe).
When Debbie Miller and her then-boyfriend, Ofer Valkurlker, decided to marry, they knew their wedding would be a fusion of East and West. Miller is American-born and Ashkenazi while Valkurlker, who is a member of the Bnei Menashe community, was born in India. Although the couple anticipated that cultural differences would influence their wedding plans, Miller was caught totally off guard when her fiancé, whose community is believed to be descended from one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel, insisted that every wedding invitation to his side of the family be delivered in person.
Imagine standing under a beautiful, hand-embroidered chuppah that 25 years earlier your parents stood under as they became husband and wife. That is the legacy Los Angeles artist Robin Van Zak hopes to create every time she designs a one-of-a-kind heirloom lace bridal canopy.
"What is this chuppah? We didn't order it."
Maria Shvarts, 80, spotting the wedding canopy standing on the dance floor at West Hollywood's Cafe Troyka, asked the restaurant staff to remove it. She and her husband Boris, 84, were hosting a 60th anniversary party. Guests were arriving, and the chuppah -- obviously from a previous celebration, she thought -- was an obstruction.
Kirin and Babak might not seem like your ordinary Jewish couple. Kirin grew up Jewish in Anchorage, living the typical western American life. Babak was raised with the traditions of a large Persian Jewish family.
The resignation of a longtime leader of one of the largest Reform congregations in Ukraine has thrown the spotlight on a bitter controversy over homosexuality within the post-Soviet Reform movement.
Jews are not immune to America's divorce endemic.
A great many of us are consumed by the nasty war of existence Israel has been fighting, by the international diplomatic backlash against the Jewish state, and by the renewed chutzpah of an enemy intent on destroying us. It is natural that we should do anything we can to help, whether through charitable donations, public demonstrations or even prayers at weddings. But in our zeal to do something, in our all-consuming anger at a cowardly and unjust enemy, it is easy to fall into a trap of putting other important things on hold, like our Jewishness.
The traditional Jewish wedding ceremony as we know it has evolved over thousands of years. But suddenly, today, in what seems like a nanosecond out of all of recorded Jewish history, couples standing under the chuppah are seeking a whole new script.
On the eve of her wedding, 20-year-old Naava Applebaum and her father, Dr. David Applebaum, the director of emergency medicine at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center, sat at Jerusalem's Café Hillel. The two were celebrating her upcoming nuptials with a father-daughter talk. But Naava Applebaum never made it to her chuppah. That night, Sept. 9, 2003, she and her father's lives were taken by a terrorist's bomb.
Nancy Goldov says the chuppah cost a few hundred dollars to make, but is now considered a priceless family heirloom. She is having a quilt made for their bed that mimics the design of the tree. Someday she may change the chuppah in some way to signify their children.
After only two hours of sleep, I woke up on Aug. 13, 2000, to the sounds of drizzle hitting my hotel window. With a pit in my stomach, I got out of bed -- terrified and excited all at once. It was my wedding day, the culmination of three months of harried planning. I desperately wanted everything about this day to be perfect, to reflect the perfect love that Brad and I shared.
For his third slice of "Pie," Adam Herz upgraded to wedding cake because "I was hosting bachelor parties and going to like, 10 weddings a year."
Hold onto your son's baby blanket. Don't give away your daughter's cheerleading uniform. If they hold precious memories and deep meanings, you may be able to recycle them -- as part of your child's chuppah.
Late spring in Los Angeles: cool, foggy mornings, with sun breaking through around midday. The strawberries are sweet and luscious; the gardens are full of roses. It's the season of simchas. Our calendars are crowded with graduations and family parties, but most of all with weddings.
When my kids were still preschoolers,young enough to be influenced by my every word, I used to have this spiel about marrying out of Judaism. It went something like this:"It's an insult to the 6 million who died only because they were Jewish." I figured that you can't start early enough on the road to the chuppah. Now, both of my children are chuppah material. And I am spiel-less.