Days, weeks, and months of the coronavirus have created anxieties, uncertainties, confusion, and sometimes just plain apathy. After all, it is Sunday afternoon, and as a result of the latest government restrictions, the setting for my granddaughter’s wedding was cancelled, and I still don’t know where the wedding will be on Tuesday. Since no one seems nervous, maybe I shouldn’t ask: “So where will the wedding be on Tuesday?” If I ask, the most likely answer will be, “Ema, please, b”ezrat Hashem, when we know where the wedding will be, you will know too.”
Our lives have turned into one big question mark. We wake each morning without a clue of where to go, and what to expect. Should I laugh at planners, like my sister, who phoned and asked if I would like to sign up for an extended weekend at a hotel up north in September?
“I don’t even know where the wedding will be on Tuesday, and you expect me to sign up for a weekend in September?” I answered.
My friend Yaffa suggested, “Maybe, instead of meeting in a café next week, we can get together on Zoom? We can each present a recipe to share and discuss in place of lunch.”
“Zoom, next week? Are you kidding, Yaffa? I don’t even know where the wedding will be on Tuesday, and you want to schedule a Zoom luncheon next week?”
My eldest daughter remarked, matter-of-factly, “Looks like we will not be able to daven in shul this year on Rosh Hashanah. Maybe we should make a minyan on the patio, early in the morning, with 10 men. My husband can daven, and we’ll finish early, before the sun hits the patio.”
“I don’t even know where the wedding will be on Tuesday, and you’re thinking Rosh Hashanah?!” I bellowed.
I seemed to be the only one anxious about where the wedding will be on Tuesday.
I remember years when we planned ahead. Most weddings were arranged six months, and sometimes a year in advance, and they usually worked out fairly close to the original plan. Still, I suppose — that wasn’t always the rule. Not every wedding worked out as planned; there were deviations.
It’s close to 50 years since Joe and Rosie were married on Friday morning in the garden below our apartment building where we lived. Rosie’s Polish parents, Holocaust survivors, settled in Germany after the war, where Rosie was born and raised. Rosie was the only Jewish girl in her class. At age eighteen, Rosie answered a newspaper ad for work in the home of a Jewish family in London as an au pair. Rosie landed the job, left her family in Germany and joined the family in London, where she slowly acceded to an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle. She remained with that family for a few years and, after the Six Day War, she decided to leave London and start a new life in Israel.
Rosie lived with a family in Jerusalem whose daughters were our babysitters, and occasionally Rosie also babysat for our children. She was eager to date and meet someone for the purpose of marriage, and she kept asking if I could help find a shidduch for her.
Tragedy struck Joe after making aliyah with his young wife and four children following the Six Day War: the first piece of property that Joe bought in Israel was a cemetery plot for his wife, who passed away suddenly. Joe could not manage, and he knew he had to marry again. I didn’t know Joe, but we had a friend in common, and she was desperate to find a match for Joe. Together we were instrumental in putting Rosie and Joe together. It was not simple. A young woman, never married, taking on a household with four youngsters, the youngest child less than a year old.
Rosie’s father arrived in Israel before the wedding. He was livid that his daughter planned to marry a man with four children. Rosie had sewn her own wedding dress. It was hanging on the back of the door in her room when her father came to see her. He took a scissors and slashed the fabric, threatening her as well.
The wedding could not commence as planned. Thus the venue was cancelled, and quickly switched to the garden of our apartment building. It was all very last minute. Her father never discovered where or when the wedding took place. A small group of Joe’s immediate family and a few friends attended.
A mentch tracht un Gut lacht, an old Yiddish adage which means, Man thinks and G-d laughs, amused at humanity’s foolish plans. We are not in control; not everything can be arranged in advance. Maybe that is one lesson I am learning from this pandemic. While we devote time and effort to defend ourselves against a destructive nuclear war, a tiny, invisible virus turns out to be the more immediate devastating danger imperiling our lives.
We need to accept changes that will help us move on to a stronger improved future. True, a sudden change of plans can touch a negative nerve. Yet the unexpected can sometimes transform what seemed like a disaster into a heartening, positive event.
My grandchildren, Matar and Itai, were married Tuesday evening in the gardens surrounding Itai’s parent’s home in Talmon. Friends in the community spent Monday and Tuesday helping prepare for the wedding. As the sun set over the mountains of the West Benyamin region, spirited voices rose in song and dance along with a full moon shining brightly over dinner served outdoors surrounded by communal lawns, shrubs, and parklands.
King Solomon, the wisest of men stated in Proverbs: “Ateret zekeinim bnei banim” –The crown of elders are their grandchildren. Corona, the Latin word for crown, is the virus pandemic circling among us today. May that life threatening virus vanish from our lives and leave us with “the crown of elders”, the ultimate joy of seeing grandchildren under the wedding canopy.