Helen first contacted me requesting a renewal of vows for her parents who were married 32 years ago. I soon learned that her folks were from Latvia and Ukraine, met when they were young and not afforded the religious freedom to have a Jewish wedding so they had just civil papers from the Republic of Georgia. After their move to The United States, with their two children, they began to learn about their heritage and religion. So, Helen asked, “could we have some Jewishness in the “renewal” ceremony”? The answer to that was an obvious, “of course” ! I then suggested that as long as they had not had a Jewish wedding ceremony, why think of this as a renewal? Why not treat it as their wedding ceremony ?!….and we did. Fast forward to July 4, 2013 on the beach at Dreams (Puerto Morelos) at 6:00 PM. Ina and Gregory thought they were in Mexico with their family to celebrate Ina’s upcoming birthday and the fact that their anniversary was July 4th (not a meaningful day in Russia). They did not know of their children’s plan for a Rabbi to officiate at their Jewish wedding ceremony. They thought they were meeting the family at the beach and then off to dinner. You cannot imagine the look on their faces when they saw the Chuppah. The folks at Dreams had done a great job of providing a Chuppah, and two tables, all covered in white. So, we gathered, this delightful couple, their son, daughter-in-law, and grandson along with their daughter and her fiancé, and me, their Mexico destination wedding Rabbi. We began with a signing of the Ketubah, then a traditional ceremony, including the customary Blessings, Sanctification with wine, Ring exchange (ha-ray aht), seven wedding blessings (sheva brachot) with another cup of wine, and ending with the breaking of the glass. “Mazel Tov” !!! There was not a dry eye, including mine as I blessed them all, thanked G-d, and asked G-d’s Blessing on the United States of America for the freedoms we all too often take for granted.
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