June: graduations and weddings

Tonight our grandson is graduating from high school.  We will attend with a conflict of emotions.  After all, we love the boy, but graduations are usually long and boring.  They stir you for a few moments when the kids march down in their caps and gowns. Then you are subjected to a couple of hours of pontificating by kids, teachers and usually a visiting scholar of some sort.  All struggle to entertain and be wise.  Yawn.

I always felt like this.  When I was finishing college I decided not to attend my own graduation.  This was Rutgers University and I was one of a couple of thousand.  Who would know and who would care?  Me? Certainly not!  My parents, not at all. But then there appeared a newer member of my family who was scandalized that I wasn’t going to my own graduation.  This was my mother-in-law, a job she had taken on reluctantly about a year earlier.  Suffice to say, I attended the graduation. My husband even took pictures of someone else, from the grandstands. How was he to know? We all looked the same.

I’ve been to lots of graduations since then, never having the courage to tell my kids or grandkids that I’d rather be home with a book.  Never mind.  We’ll go tonight.

I feel the same about weddings.  The fuss some people make about wedding arrangements is really somewhat insane.  I like a nice, joyous, Jewish wedding as much as anybody else. I love all the ceremonial parts and I love the happiness and the love,  I  love the live freilach music. The singing for the Sheva Brachot, especially when everyone joins in with Od Yishama.  

What I definitely do not like is Jewish weddings that are not kosher, for starters.  If two Jews are getting married, even if they themselves could care less about kashrut, isn’t there someone in their huge guest list who will care a lot about kashrut?  Shouldn’t that person’s needs be front and center?  After all, who is hurt by a kosher simcha?  Versus, who is hurt by a tref simcha?  I’m not a big fan of the Rabbanut in Israel but their standard of kosher weddings is definitely in sync with my own opinion.

The worst offender, in America, is kosher style.  What in the world is kosher style? Who are they kidding?  Can you make tref look kosher by saying a motzei over a challah?

And if you’re hosting a Jewish wedding why do it on Shabbat?  Saturday evening at 7 p.m. in June is, after all, Shabbat.  Some of your guests just may not come.  America is still the land of the free but consider that someone may want to share your simcha and just not be able to.

Now lots of people get involved in the details of the wedding as if they were the wedding.  Today I heard about a new business model that is apparently very successful.  I don’t even know what to call it but it’s a woman who attends weddings and charges  between $1,000 and $2,000. She’s there to be a problem solver.  She’ll sew on a missing button.  She’ll help with the dressing.  She’ll organize the processional. She’ll do whatever nobody else is doing.  Really?  How in the world did people ever get married without her?

But it doesn’t matter about the money since if you’re already in for a couple of hundred thousand, what’s another one or two?

There are people, usually mothers of the bride or groom, who think that they need months of time to find and fit the right dress for the event.  The right shoes and the right jewelry.  They must be perfect.  Their hair. Their nails.  Their everything.  We’ll all been to weddings where the husbands of said women will make a silly speech about how hard their wives worked to put this fantastic event together.  Oy vey.  The caterer prepares the food.  The florist does his thing.  The musicians do theirs (unless you have a deejay in which case I pity you!) and the women dress themselves.  Is that really a job that requires congratulations.

Men are usually easier with the clothing.  A suit or the now ubiquitous black tie and they’re done.

All this planning and primping and pruning doesn’t necessarily lead to a happier marriage, just to a more extravagant wedding.

On the day of my own wedding, 57 years ago, I called some of my bridge playing friends to invite them to pass the time playing our favorite game.  They all thought I was crazy.  How could I do something so un “wedding” ish? I just simply did not know what else I was supposed to do that day.  Playing bridge seemed like a fine option but I couldn’t get them to agree. They were too busy preparing for the wedding.  Whatever that means.  I still don’t know.

I want to return to the deejay.  This is a form of torture that people actually pay for.  I’ve never been to a wedding where the deejay could modulate the volume.  I think about the people I’ll speak with before the wedding and we’ll say, yes we’ll catch up at the wedding.   That turns out to be impossible.  You cannot hear anyone unless you leave the wedding and chat in the parking lot.  I’ve been to weddings where we communicate with each other, at the same table mind you, by email. Can someone explain this to me?  Is it crazy or am I just a qvetch?  Do you really enjoy that horrible loud noise?  Tell the truth.

So, lest I be compared to the Jewish Scrooge, here’s to life and these little irks that can certainly be dealt with.  Here’s to the graduates.  May they soon become brides and grooms.  Chatans and Kallahs. Mazal tov!

About the Author
Rosanne Skopp is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of fourteen, and great-grandmother of three. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and travels back and forth between homes in New Jersey and Israel. She is currently writing a family history.