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Mazal tov

Listening to the joyous wedding music, night after night, and wondering how it will all end

Every night around 8-9pm , except for Fridays and Saturdays, a glass breaks.

In the early evenings as I drive down the road leading to the kibbutz, I notice a woman all dressed in white standing in the open field and having her picture taken. She looks happy, maybe a bit stressed, but as beautiful as she can be. This is her day. Yesterday was some other woman’s day, tomorrow will be another’s, but today it’s hers and only hers. Oh, and the groom’s day as well.

A couple of hours later, the cars begin driving in. They used to drive through the kibbutz and block the main road but about a year ago, the kibbutz put a gate and now they drive around. Hundreds of folks park and walk past the main road and into the country style wedding hall — magical and unique. Every night. All folks are dressed in their best attire and defenses. Some spent hundreds of shekels on their attire, but none spent as much as the bride (thousands of shekels) for a dress she’ll wear once in her life and will have to schlep around for years to come. A sad reminder of the supposedly happiest day of her life.

As I sit in my “mirpeset” or balcony, which is what the kibbutzniks call their front porch, I can hear the rabbi doing his ceremony. Everyone listens. This is such an important moment every night. The bride, behind her veil, still can’t believe the moment she’s been preparing for for about a year has finally arrived. The groom might be wondering whether his life will change as everyone told him, and not for the better. Exchange of rings, the glass breaks and everyone, I mean everyone, yells mazal tov.

For hours to come, I can hear the music way too loud to be in the midst of the kibbutz, even while I lie in bed trying to finally relax from yet another long and tiring day in the lunacy of Israel, and fall asleep. By now, three and some years after moving here, I can tell which kind of folks are celebrating tonight. Whether they’re Mizrahi or Ashkenazi, Hasidic or reform — the music tells it all.

Through the worn out walls on the other side of my house, I hear gunshots every night, except for Fridays and Saturdays. Young men, soldiers, are learning and practicing in the shooting range. “Shoot”, someone yells. At first you hear the quick ones, a few single shots and then all together, as though a rain of hail on the windshield of a fast moving car. And last, you hear the slow ones, a few single shots. Life and death — our destiny.

Every night, except for Fridays and Saturdays, as I hear the glass break, I can’t help but think about the statistics. In Israel, one out of every three couples, will end up in divorce. But what percentage have separated and have yet to divorce? What percentage are not given a Get? And worst of all, how many are stuck in an unhappy marriage but too afraid to leave? Isn’t it time for us humans to let go of the institution of marriage, if only because no one wants to live in an institution?!

About the Author
Michal Bruck is a working mother of two amazing girls at the age of six and nine. Michali uprooted her family three years ago and moved back to Israel after 25 years in Los Angeles to settle down at her husband's kibbutz. She has a B.A. in Sociology from UC Berkeley. Writing, photographing and sewing are a few of her creative passions. Cooking, on the other hand, is not.