Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Paying for the Chupah: sequel to the short story Praying for a Chupah (July 2011)

My last three posts have dealt with the on-going terror in Israel and I was determined to post something fun this week. I haven’t wavered from my resolution but in light of the gruesome murders in the Jerusalem synagogue this morning I beg all my readers to pray for the wounded*.
It was happening. It was finally happening. Tirza felt like a character in a romance novel, pinching herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. But the batch of brownies she was pulling out of the oven smelled too delicious to be a dream. Neither was her sparkling clean house. As she arranged the already cooled marzipan bars on her grandmother’s china plate she hummed happily to herself. Tonight they were going to meet Gavriel’s parents. Tonight, with HaShem’s help, Bracha would finally become a kallah. Tonight, at last, Tirza would be able to hold her head up and no longer think everyone was feeling sorry for her since she had three children in their mid-twenties and no one was even close to becoming engaged. Oh, she couldn’t wait to drink the l’chaim and then begin calling everyone.

Gavriel and his parents showed up exactly on time. With his dark eyes and curly hair, Ezra Rosen was an older version of Gavriel. As he smiled his beautiful smile and shook Avner’s hand he immediately set Bracha’s father at ease. Unfortunately, though, Gila Rosen didn’t have the same effect on Tirza. From the perfectly styled wig down to her designer heels Gavriel’s mother announced sophistication. Tirza fingered her simple head covering, bought new for the occasion, with embarrassment. Suddenly she noticed that their house could really use a coat of paint. Why, she wondered, hadn’t she taken Yaffa up on her offer to loan her a couple of silver trays.
Taking a deep breath she called to Bracha. Her winsome daughter came down the staircase looking just as polished as her, hopefully, mother-in-law-to-be. Bracha’s eyes sparkled as she greeted Gavriel and welcomed his parents warmly.
“Gavriel, shall we go for a walk while our parents get to know each other?”
He readily agreed and Avner ushered Ezra and Gila towards the dining room table. Gila gasped at the variety of cakes, fruits, and nuts.
“You’ve been busy,” she spoke cordially.
“We don’t meet our potential in-laws every day,” Tirza smiled feeling a bit more relaxed.
“Your daughter is just lovely,” Ezra stated as they settled around the table.
“We think very highly of Gavriel,” Avner said.
“So, we agree they should get engaged?” Ezra asked.
Absolutely,” Avner nodded his head adamantly.
“So,” Gila clapped her hands together. “Let’s talk practicalities.”
Tirza nodded and passed out pencils and paper.
“First of all,” Gila declared, folding her hands in front of her. “All our other weddings were at The Rothschild Hotel and we see no reason to do anything different this time.”
Tirza’s face blanched.  “We have a savings account for each of our children’s weddings but I don’t think there’s enough for The Rothschild Hotel.”
“Listen,” Gila’s voice was firm. “Ezra’s the head doctor in his department. I’m a noted lecturer and Gavriel’s a successful lawyer. There are a lot of people we have to impress with our last wedding.”
Well, my husband is a beloved teacher in the yeshiva here, I’m an experienced teacher with lots of former students and their parents, and Bracha is a respected youth group director with adoring teenagers and their families and we don’t have to impress anyone. That’s what Tirza wanted to say but she didn’t.
Oblivious to the effect her words were having on Bracha’s mother Gila waved her hand dismissively. “You know, you can just make up the difference with the wedding checks they’ll receive from your side.”  
I don’t want to use the checks to pay for some fancy hall. I want the couple to use them.
Before Tirza could say those words Avner cleared his throat.
“In our circles we usually give wedding presents and not checks.”
“Oh,” Gila faltered but just for a second. “Well, I guess we’ll just have to pay for more than our half,” she said cheerily.
Tirza felt herself flushing as she blinked back tears.
“You know,” Avner spoke quietly. “We have our own ideas about what we’d like to see at our first wedding.”
“I’m sure you do,” Ezra shook his head at his wife. “And we’d like to hear them, wouldn’t we, Gila?”
“Yes, yes, we would. I think…”
At that point there was a knock on the door and Bracha and Gavriel entered.
“So,” Gavriel asked. “Is everything all settled? Are we ready to drink the l’chaim and thank the matchmaker?”
“We didn’t expect you so soon,” Gila paused. “We’re still working out details for the wedding.”
“But you agreed that there would be a wedding, right?” Gavriel confirmed.
“Oh, yes,” the four parents nodded their heads enthusiastically.
“So, don’t worry about the details. Leave them up to Bracha and me.”
“Bracha and you?” Gila was shocked.
“Sure,” Gavriel smiled. “If we’re old enough get married we’re old enough to plan a wedding.”
“Do you know how many events I plan every month?” Bracha asked rhetorically. “And as a finance lawyer Gavriel can certainly handle the budget. Just give us the money you want us to have for the wedding and we’ll use it wisely.”
“Well…” Gila wavered.
“I think it’s a great idea!” Ezra declared. “How about you, Avner?”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Where do you think you’ll have the wedding?” Gila asked warily.
“Here at the yeshiva,” Gavriel said decidedly.
“The yeshiva!” Gila moaned. “It’s just a simple building, not at all fancy.”
“But,” Bracha told her, “One of my best friends is a decorator. She’ll make it beautiful. And there’s plenty of room for everyone to invite all the guests they want.”
“What about the food?” Gila whined. “The chef at The Rothschild Hotel is a world-class chef.”
“We’ll get a world-class caterer,” Bracha assured her.
“I don’t know.” Now tears welled up in Gila’s eyes.
“This is what we want,” Gavriel held his mother’s gaze. “Please be supportive. We’ll make a beautiful wedding. It won’t be like the other weddings but it will be beautiful.”
“I hope so,” Gila capitulated. She graciously took the glass of wine Tirza offered her, joined in the toast enthusiastically, and pulled her cell phone out just like the others to begin sending messages of the good news. Soon the house was full of well-wishers and Gila found herself caught up in the excitement. Maybe the wedding wouldn’t be so bad.

It wasn’t. Bracha’s friend had done a suburb job on the yeshiva and the caterer’s food, though simple, was amazing. Bracha was stunning in the wedding dress her aunt had sewn for her but no one noticed the gown. Their eyes were riveted on the bride’s shining face and Gavriel’s look of love as he stood next to her under the chupah. Most impressive was the spirit of happiness that pervaded the yeshiva’s dining hall. Neither Gavriel nor Bracha were a young chatan or kallah and the guests were thrilled that they had finally found each other.
After the last photo had been taken, Gila turned to Tirza.
“Do you see that girl, there?” She indicated a diminutive young woman entertaining two of Gavriel’s tired, little nieces.
Tirza nodded her head wondering where the conversation was leading.
“She’s my best friend’s daughter and I think she’d really be perfect for Bracha’s big brother. Would you like me to work on it?”
“I, I ,I  guess so,” Tirza stuttered. “But do you think your friend would be okay with a wedding like this?”
“She’d love it!” Gila was emphatic. “Just like I did.”
Smiling Tirza embraced her daughter’s mother-in-law and said a prayer of thanks to HaShem. 

*From this morning’s attack:
Chaim Yechiel Ben Malcha
Shmuel Yerucham Ben Bilha
Avraham Shmuel Ben Shayna


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