Wendy Kalman
There are many ways to see and understand

Weddings, family, and friends

(Robby Tohar)
(Robby Tohar)

On the morning of our recent wedding, my then fiancé and I attended shul for our aufruf, where we were called up to the Torah. That day, we had the honor of sharing sponsorship of the kiddush luncheon with another couple, who were celebrating 70 years of marriage. The couple looked happy and it felt wonderful to be able to share our simchas with each other and with the congregation.

We had wanted our wedding, held in a restaurant, to feel warm and loving and comfortable and it was. Our aim was for our family and our friends to help us celebrate. And they did. It truly felt joyful. Four of our sons held the chuppah poles and the fifth was our photographer. It was so meaningful to us to have them supporting the symbolic home the canopy represented, even as they are themselves are already in flight, young men in college and beyond.

We made sure to pack our wedding weekend with a number of events to bring together our families and friends, ultimately sharing a meal at our house of wedding leftovers Sunday night for those still in town. And so, when we left for our honeymoon on Monday, we were content.

It is so comforting to share a life with someone whose values so closely mirror my own. Family is important to us both. And so instead of jetting off to somewhere exotic, we drove off to Asheville for the week and then elsewhere in North Carolina, to drop off furniture at a son’s home, visit with an old high school friend and ultimately, attend my cousin’s son’s wedding, where we saw relatives I hadn’t seen in some time. Certainly not a typical honeymoon, but for us, perfect.

When I think about families with members who no longer speak to each other, my heart hurts. And when I consider all those who block acquaintances, friends, relatives on social media because of disparate views, I feel pained. In this world, all we really have, all we can take with us, are relationships and words.

How we speak to each other, the words we choose, matter. So does our ability to listen. But perhaps first in relevance is frequency. I’ve admitted this before; I have to do a better job of reaching out to family and to friends, old and new. It shouldn’t be only during weddings and funerals.

And so I’d like to turn this new life into a new opportunity to be a better person and to live the values I profess to hold dear. Today I returned from my honeymoon and tomorrow I will begin, reaching out to people I haven’t spoken to in far too long. Because the more we give, the stronger we become.

About the Author
Born in Brooklyn and raised on Lawn Guyland, Wendy lived in Jerusalem for over a decade submerged in Israeli culture; she has been soaked in Southern life in metro Atlanta since returning to the U.S. in 2003. Recently remarried, this Ashkenazi mom of three Mizrahi sons, 26, 23 and 19, splits her time between managing knowledge in corporate America, pursuing a dual masters in public administration and integrated global communications, blogging, relentlessly Facebooking, once-in-a-while veejaying, enjoying the arts and digging out of the post-move carton chaos of her and her husband's melded household.
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