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I was just reading Meg’s blog, A Practical Wedding, and loved one of her most recent posts.

First, she shared a new perspective on the glass breaking in  a Jewish wedding, and that was that an old Moroccan saying was related to the broken glass of a Jewish wedding, in that “A difficult beginning is a good sign”.  It really is true in so many ways.  We are an instant gratification, disposable society sometimes.  We expect our life’s path to roll along smoothly, and often get derailed at the first sign of trouble. It really isn’t about the trouble at all, though, it’s about our perception of it, so if we start out with a little tzurres, perhaps that helps frame the perspective, and helps us appreciate the peaks that the road of life will certainly bring us to, while remembering that the valleys are not so long lived, and give meaning to the experience.

The other topic of her post was our current economic conditions, and its impact on today’s wedding experiences.

Meg – I have one additional perspective to share with you, in response to your sentiment of mild envy at last year’s crop of brides, who were planning well before the onset of layoffs, closures, and the like….Fast forward those brides to today.  They planned without worry, but they were the most unfortunate, because they also most likely incorporated a whole lot of expense and debt into their plans, and guess what they’re thinking today?  I’m sure many are wishing they still had the $10, 20, 30, 40k or MORE they spent on the wedding, because it sure would have helped them get through the difficult times, now, because they possibly lost their jobs or have just been hit financially.

Knowledge is power, and you have much more knowledge today than they did.  You have been given the gift of perspective, so today you can CHOOSE to be more economical, simple, realistic, and responsible.  And in the end, what you will most likely end up with (especially based on the sentiment of your readers) is a more personal experience, knowing that those who surround you on that day are there because YOU are one of the most important people in their lives.  If that’s not a gift, I don’t know what is.

Last year’s brides are not feeling like they got so much of a gift.  I hear many lamenting that they wish they had created a more intimate, personal setting, and not felt so compelled to pay $200 a plate for someone they barely knew.  They (and/or their families) are saddled with debt they really didn’t want nor could afford, and while the memory of the experience begins to fade, the credit card balances are mounting, as finance companies raise rates through the ceiling.  Not so much of a blessing, and certainly not much to envy.

One of the reasons I absolutely LOVE my destination weddings, is because I am always so touched at what every person experiences through them.  Certainly, the guests are the MOST important people in the world to them.  They made it a life priority to take that trip with them, and share in their joy.  They got FAR more than a 5 hour party, they got a life-long experience, of sharing the most relaxing time and special moments.  The final bill is far more palatable than that of a grand-wedding-experience, and provides so many more special memories to look back on.  This year more than ever, we are returning to simpler values, and that is the TRUE blessing of this economy.

I’m actually thankful for it, and while I wouldn’t wish a single hardship on anyone, I suppose that it was, is, and continues to be necessary to re-align our values, to re-think what is important, and to re-define what we consider to be our blessings.  Those brides that are planning their upcoming weddings in this downturn economy – rejoice!  You have the gift of knowledge, perspective, and POWER to choose to do what’s right for yourselves, your families, your friends, and the economy over all.

Life is not about broken glass, it’s about the meaning you give it.

B’Shalom,

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I am just catching up on life, since last weekend’s wedding, and it’s time to head out again tomorrow.

This weekend I am performing a wedding for Eden & Eduardo, an Interfaith couple in Puerto Rico.  I actually know very few details about the location I’m going to – so it’s kind of a mystery adventure to me right now.  I’m really excited, because Eden is an earthy-sugary sweet girl who just adores Ed, and he adores her.  As far as I know, where I’m going is a 2 hour ride from the airport, in a town called Isabella.  I’m really excited to see the area, and to get to know Eden and Ed’s families.

Stay tuned for updates – when I know where I am going!  🙂

Have a great weekend!

Deb

Me, nervous?

Heck no.  Why should I be nervous?

Because tomorrow I am officiating the biggest wedding in my career?  For a family known throughout the world for RATING people?  Well, yeah, ok…I’m nervous.  I didn’t say I wasn’t confident, but when you know that people who write about what people do for a living are judging you, then I’d think you might be a bit nervous, too.

Regardless, this wedding is all about the couple, and the couple is definitely something to write home about.  Good looking, brilliant, ambitious, charismatic, benevolent, compassionate, and really-truly, down to earth and very very real.    I am incredibly honored to have the opportunity, and hope that their wedding ceremony is everything they could have ever hoped for.

In the meantime, I’m certainly excited to have my name appear with theirs, in the New York Times.  It was even more special to see it come out on Valentine’s Day. Stay tuned for details…

There is so much to know about this wondrous activity called blogging.

I remember the first time I heard about this thing called a blog.  Hmmm, a web-log, eh?

Kind of like a diary?  Yes.

Kind of like a journal?  Yes.

Kind of like a documentary?  Ok, that too.

“It’s so easy”, I was told.  Just go to (wordpress, blogger, blogspot, livejournal, typepad, etc.).com and start writing.  Everyone is doing it!  It sounded easy.  I began to look for other blogs, and see what other people were doing, and I kind of relished the thought of putting my experiences out there for people to read about me, and what I was doing.  Not only that, but it seemed like a great way of getting my name out in the community.

I guess I didn’t realize that it could also become my 2nd full time job, if I allowed it to.  I must admit, that the more I learn about blogging, and WordPress, and all the other “stuff”, the more inadequate I feel, and sometimes, I am just blank.  Some days, I think of hundreds of ideas to write about, and the next day, I am so overwhelmed, I can’t even bring myself to log on.  I’m really busy writing meaningful weddings, Bar Mitzvah ceremonies, and representing the Jewish faith, that I forget to write for days at a time.

Then, a blog reviewer comes along, sends me an email, and says…”Your blog would be excellent – if you could only be sure to blog every day.”  WHAT?  Every day?  Seriously, I’m trying.  I really am.  But I have realized that my blog productivity is absolutely tied to my mindset on any given day, and there really is so much psychology around the written word.

There are days when I am incubating some really ground-breaking ideas, as I have been since returning from NY.  And guess what has happened to my blog?  I realize it has been almost 11 days since I returned, and I haven’t published a single entry.  I also realize that I have withdrawn a bit from my social life, my family, and even my friends.  So, my blog is also a victim of my mental state on any given day.  I suppose that’s one of the maladies of being self-accountable – nobody to force me to produce, which some days, I admit, I really need.

Anyway – I’m wondering if I’m the only one who feels that their blog productivity is tied to the way they are feeling, or what is going on in their lives?  Does it just come naturally to want to put something out there every day?  Who knows if what I write is interesting?  Who cares?

I have 14 drafts sitting in my to-do list, and yet, here I sit writing about not writing.  It all gets so overwhelming, sometimes, and no matter what anyone says, it is NOT easy.  Once I write, how do I get people to read?  Am I writing about the right stuff?  Does it matter?  There are 207.601 bloggers on WordPress.com.  What will make someone read mine?  Some days, just seeing that number makes me feel insignificant, and when I feel insignificant, I tend to avoid that which makes me feel more-so. There are so many feelings tied to writing.  So many issues to consider, and so many connections to how I feel, on the inside.

Today, I feel bold.  Today, I feel happy to be alive, more so because 49 people lost their lives on a flight from Newark to Buffalo, and I remember that I must live every moment to its fullest.  I remember that I shouldn’t ever let a moment go to tell someone I love them, and just maybe, I shouldn’t miss a moment to blog.  I remember to move from guilty to forgiven, because I have the power to forgive myself, and move on.

So much psychology around blogging…

B’Shalom,

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The Big Apple

What fun I am having in the city!

I decided to extend my stay, and connect with some of my favorite people in NYC.  After leaving Jersey yesterday, Sharon drove me into the Village, where I met Jenni & Mike, my newest fave couple I am marrying in May in Mexico.  Jenni is the cutest, but after spending the day with both Jenni and Mike, it’s a race sometimes to decide who is actually cuter.  🙂  Mike is a doll.  A total guy, but, with a deep sensitivity and loving, warm disposition, that makes anybody fall in love with him.  It’s easy to see why Jenni did!  But Jenni is as precious as they come, so, they’re a great match for each other.  We went to a really cute restaurant in the village, The Cupping Room, and had an amazing lunch with a great bloody mary!  Then, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit was just down the street, and so we went there and had a great time, too.  Jenni and Mike have the cutest little place in the Village, and it was great to see them in their personal surroundings, and really get the time to connect with them on such a personal level.  I had so much fun!

I met a friend in the city, and we went to Little Italy for dinner.  Great food, great conversation – and back to the hotel to try to get a few hours of sleep before today began.

This morning, I left the hotel bright and early and decided to get myself moving around the city.  I took the subway down to Tribeca, and met Felix & Evelina at Mocca’s, on Church & Reade St.  I browsed Canal street for a few minutes, but got totally overwhelmed, and thought better of it.  You can’t do Canal Street alone, for sure.

Tonight is going to be the BEST!  I’m meeting the rest of the Aruba gang, Vlad & Tanya, and Max & Anna.  (Where did Shilana go in this mix??)  We’re meeting at Rockefeller Center, and it should be BIG fun!

Tomorrow morning, I am going to see my best friend in NY’s daughter who goes to FIT, before heading back to Newark.  Where did the time go?  Well, I suppose nothing this great lasts forever, and I’m just so happy to have had this time.  So – watch out tonight, NYC.  Here comes Aruba!!!

I guess I should start this blog entry, by clarifying that no event I’ve ever done has resulted in 3 (or more) entries, until now. Somehow I feel that’s important, because usually, as much as many of my events are warm, moving, loving, and well…exceptional, the story of Max’s Bar Mitzvah is more than all of that put together.

As I sit here in the hotel lobby (drinking massive volumes of coffee), I’m trying to figure out what made it SO exceptional. Was it Audrey, whose grounded-ness, sense of humor, red curls, big hug, and joie-de-vivre is so contagious you just want to sit in a room and talk her head off, forever? Was it Rob? Her Non-Jewish husband who was equally as driven to give his son the perfect Bar Mitzvah as she was?

Audrey & Rob

Audrey & Rob

Was it Edith? Audrey’s Holocaust survivor mother – clear – I mean – as CLEAR as a sunny day, whose only dream in her life was to see her grandson Max become a Bar Mitzvah?

Edith, Audrey's Mom

Edith, Audrey's Mom

Or was it Max, himself? My darling Skype student, who calls me a Robo-Rabbi, and with whom I have shared many deep, spiritual, inquisitive, and wondrous moments together – despite headsets and disconnects, from 1500 miles away?

Max, My Robo-Bar Mitzvah!

Max, My Robo-Bar Mitzvah!

Or maybe it was the other cast of characters. Sharon, my soul-sista, the common thread, that brought Audrey and her family and I together. Or, Hal and Sharon’s children, Bess & Hannah, who so beautifully chanted the V’Ahavta at Max’s Bar Mitzvah.

Audrey with Sharon, Bess, & Hannah.  Where was Hal??

Audrey with Sharon, Bess, & Hannah. Where was Hal??

Perhaps, it was Rob’s sister, remember…Non Jewish Rob, his sister, Judy, who so meaningfully read the D’Var Torah last night, explaining the meaning of the Parsha, Bo. Her desire to complete this simcha for Max and his family, was far more important than the fact that she had never even known what a parsha was before this week. Perhaps she didn’t even know the true story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, and the meaning of the story in our lives, but she read with the same passion and conviction I would have expected Edith to read with.

Judy & Doug

Judy & Doug

Or Lara – Audrey’s brother’s wife, with a personality bigger and kinder than anyone I have met in ages. A total rockstar-redhead, with more energy than a whirling dervish. (what is that, anyway?)

Sharon and Edith with Lara (on the right)

Sharon and Edith with Lara (on the right)

Oh wait – it certainly had to have something to do with Rev. Sarah Lammert. I must digress by saying that the Bar Mitzvah was held in the Unitarian Universalist Society, where Edith and Audrey have been attending for quite some time. It is the Society they landed in, when they realized that there were no synagogues that were going to meet their spiritual needs, and whose arms they felt so warm and loved in, when all else, spiritually, had failed them. It was Sarah who opened the Bar Mitzvah last night, and closed – with me – immediately after I led our congregation in Kaddish – and she led with The Lord’s Prayer. (Did you ever know that The Lord’s Prayer is deeply rooted in the words of the Kaddish? Perhaps a separate blog entry for later..) A deeply moving moment, bringing us all of different faiths and walks of life together, harmoniously, in one room, with the feeling that G-d was around each and every one of us.

Gee, maybe it was the amazing New York Klezmer band, who rocked the house in the first couple of hours. As Max and I danced the hora, and led most of the guests around in a hora line, and had an amazing time.

Or Audrey’s friend, husband, and children, who played and sang “I Hope You Have the Time of Your Life”.

Or ultimately, it was Edith’s speech to Max, a moving wish from his grandmother, expressing her deep pride, and a transformed relationship with her G-d, as a result of this night. Or Lara’s moving recount of what a Bar Mitzvah means to her (another non-Jewish family member, expressing her love and hopes for Max).

I think there is way too much to recount, and I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to accurately express just what made last night so incredible. I just know it was, because of what I felt in my heart – before, during, and after the ceremony, including now. I know because of the comments and feedback, and joy and love I received from everyone there, Jewish and non Jewish alike. Even the kids, who sat on the floor, in front of Max and I, were enthralled and participative, a moving experience in itself.

Maybe it was the sum of the parts. Each of those parts brought incredible meaning, connection, spirituality, and unity to the night. It was beshert, I suppose, for Audrey and I to connect, through Sharon, and I will be forever grateful for the experience. It not only brought meaning to my life, but I know it did for Audrey and Rob, Max, Edith, and all of the friends and family that joined together in that room. I’m sad that it is over, but richly rewarded for having been through it. I’m sure the impact has yet to reveal itself to me, but it will be my pleasure to carry these memories with me along the road, and remember how I changed one family’s life. It changed mine, too. Audrey, Rob, Max, Edith, Lara, Judy, Sharon, and Rev. Sarah – you are angels, and I’m so thankful for each of you! Max – you are my Robo-rock-star-Bar Mitzvah. I will be forever proud!

The best time EVER! Love u, Audrey!

The best time EVER! Love u, Audrey!

Jersey continues…

It is the eve of Max’s Bar Mitzvah.  I am back in the hotel, after spending the last few hours reading and preparing for tonight, and reflecting on the last 24 hours.  My heart is pounding for some reason, today, like that feeling you get when the police car turns his lights on behind you.  I’m not sure why.  Sometimes this happens, when there is so much inside of me, and things going on that I just can’t see clearly yet, and hours of meditation and thought have to occur to see what this message is.  I consider it a message, I just don’t know what it’s saying, yet.  I’m overwhelmed by my relationship to Audrey, Rob, and Max, and perhaps it is just a sign that a shift is taking place in my world, and that tonight is going to be one of the most moving experiences of my life.

I sat with Max for a couple of hours today.  He practiced his blessings, we read through his D’Var Torah, and his prayer of gratitude.  Wait till I publish this prayer.  I sobbed at his kitchen table, and I promise you – these are his own words.  The child is amazing.  We played guitar in his Mom’s office, and shared more philosophy at his kitchen table.  I walked 2.5 miles to his house from the hotel, and another 2.5 back – in 30 degree weather, and it was the best 5 mile walk I’ve ever had.

Max's House, as it was starting to snow

Sure, I love the beach, and certainly don’t know if I could trade my daily walks at the ocean for the walk I experienced today, but, today was special, nonetheless.  I love being here in New Jersey, in the north, in the cold, and among friends I’ve only known for 24 hours but feel I have known forever.

Last night, Audrey (Max’s Mom) had her family over for dinner, and Sharon, Hal, Hannah and Bess were there.  Sharon is my soul-sista, and I couldn’t wait to see her.  It was SO much fun, and I just don’t want this time to end.  Tonight, Hannah and Bess are chanting the V’Ahavta, while Max reads the prayer in English.  It will be beautiful.

Tomorrow, I set out on my journey to see my brides – past and future, and hopefully somewhere along the line, I will get a chance to meet Rabbi Andrea, my friend, in person.  (some technical difficulties this morning prohibited that, but I’m sure going to try to catch up!)  Andrea was responsible for connecting me to Yelena, who connected me to Sharon, who connected me to Audrey, and on and on we go…I know I’ve said all this before, but it’s all so divine, it’s worth repeating.

Thank You, G-d, for this blessing.  I am, once again, the luckiest girl on earth.

B’Shalom,

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