A Chinese-Jewish Wedding

Imagine a rabbi sermonizing and then saying, “Well, many of you don’t believe any of this stuff.”

130133We attended the California wedding of my nephew, Adam Choit, and Erin Li. Adam works in TV and Erin is a film-maker*, her family Chinese, from Taiwan. She’s the sweetest looking little thing ever, but speaks with deep gravitas. Adam is a droll fellow; when he picked up my mother’s decorative antique phone and pretended to have a conversation, I found myself almost hooked in.

Nearly half the guests were Chinese, while Adam is our one family member really into the Jewishness thing, so the wedding was conducted according to Jewish ritual. Everyone seemed perfectly comfortable with this cultural mash-up. It may sound corny, but isn’t that so very American? We shouldn’t take it for granted in a world where some people still kill others because they’re in the wrong sect.

WeddingYet during the ceremony I was struck by the oddity of half of it being in a language (Hebrew) nobody understood, full of references to a land (Israel) half a world away, and to a deity most attendees probably don’t believe in. So the rabbi’s quoted acknowledgement of this was a nice surprise. He said it matter-of-factly, with no tone of disparagement.

Unknown-2They had a string quartet (majority Chinese). When my wife whispered how nice a certain piece was, I noted with some amusement its being indeed a very pretty arrangement of “Don’t Know Much About History!” Later they played Darth Vader’s theme. Bit dark for a wedding, but nobody minded.

My mother, almost 95, has had a rough couple of years, but she’s an indomitable war-horse, had long looked forward to this wedding, and had a great time. She’s planning to fly out to Adam’s sister’s Long Island wedding next month. My mother has a repertoire of stories she loves repeating. Some are like “Just So” stories. A favorite, told several times during the weekend, is “Why Frank(ie) Grew His Beard.” Unknown-5You see, as a young lawyer, small and baby-faced, he’d be embarrassed when going out for drinks with the boys and the waitress offering him only a coke. No matter that I’ve never in my life “gone out with the boys,” nor ever drunk alcohol. (And grew the beard to get girls.)

“Is that what you’re wearing?” is something we husbands are known to hear. Well, I’ve never been a clothes horse. For the wedding I wore my one and only almost halfway passable suit, which I’ve had for literally half a century. (Yes, it still fits.) How surprising when, introduced to the bride’s with-it looking brother George, he said, “I like your suit!” imagesMy wife was floored. This put paid to her campaign for a wardrobe upgrade for the next (fancier) wedding. And that was before we learned George is in the custom clothing business. But, as a magnanimous concession, I told my wife the suit might be dry-cleaned.

The most enjoyable part of such outings, for me, is being with her and savoring her excellence. therese_edited-1I was flattered to be informed that a young lawyer visiting from Poland (my mother’s care-giver’s nephew), exactly half her age, was quite smitten by her beauty and charm. Sometimes during the festivities I’d experience a frisson of envy watching youthful Adam and his bride, but I only needed to glance over at my own bride for it to go away.

* To see one of her cool short films, click here and enter password keplerscreener888

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One Response to “A Chinese-Jewish Wedding”

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