Germany And Italy Each Have World Cup Titles The Rabbi and the Elephant: How I Officiated a Cosmopolitan Interfaith Wedding in Thailand

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The Rabbi and the Elephant: How I Officiated a Cosmopolitan Interfaith Wedding in Thailand

With guests from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Thailand and the US in attendance, Nad and Alex’s wedding was the easiest I have ever officiated. It is a mixed Jewish tradition, preserved with Thai traditions, it was one of the most diverse traditions. Imagine that I was lifted by an elephant, and you have a good reputation!

Although one might think that the connection between a Russian Jew and a Thai Buddhist would be difficult, this bride and groom showed that it does not have to be that way. This could be because the bride, Nad (short for Nadusa), and the bride, Alex, who live in Australia, are true citizens of the world. Nad was born in Thailand, but grew up mainly in Australia and Europe, thanks to his father’s work at Royal Thai Airways. He studied at an international school in Paris, and is fluent in (predominantly American) English, French, German and Thai. Alex was born in Russia, and grew up there and (from the age of 15) in the US. If you have an x-ray done in the middle of the night, you may wonder where in the world they find a radiologist to read it. Well, under the earth, that’s where! Perhaps, it would be Alex, the “nighthawk” radiologist, who, due to living in a very different time, will receive a report for your doctor. Nad also (naturally) works for an international organization.

This family reflects the global lifestyle not only in their upbringing, professional life and daily life, but also in their wisdom of life. Both are very proud of their culture, but in terms of true religious beliefs they are very close to the people. They wanted their ritual to reflect this, as well as their idea of ​​what it would be like to have a Jewish ritual, one that was integrated, with Thai traditions before and after. For this location, they chose Koh Samui, a small beautiful island in the south of Thailand.

Their joyous beach ceremony began with the sound of gongs and drums and men we had yet to see shouting in Thai, “We’re here, we’re here,” as they approached. The first thing we saw were four young girls in traditional Thai dress, swaying slowly as they prepared. Then we saw the men we had heard before, followed by the “guest of honor” – a baby elephant! The elephant was adorned with jewelry and was also dancing. He brought the groom, and sat with him next to the bride. Then one of the men put on a xylophone, and the four women danced to its music in an orderly dance in front of the bride and groom. They finished and laid before them a bed of roses in perfect harmony.

I then led the Jewish part of the ceremony under the chuppah (Jewish wedding veil) on the beach. They exchanged vows and rings, and shared a glass of wine. He signed a ketubah (traditional Jewish marriage contract) written in Hebrew, English and Thai. (Nad’s mother, a skilled translator, helped translate.) Then I blessed them with the Blessing of the Priests, which is an ancient book of Israeli archaeologists. I explained to them how our ancestors, who gave us the Torah, thought of my legendary ancestor, the first high priest, Aaron, Moses’ brother, to bless the children of Israel with these same words. I like to recite this blessing in a third language (besides Hebrew and English) if appropriate. Instead, I have blessed families in Spanish (I live in Tejas, after all), French, Arabic and Bulgarian. This time I used four languages, as I blessed Nad and Alex with the words of my grandparents and theirs in Hebrew, English, Russian and Thai.

After the Jewish part of the ceremony, we followed many Thai traditions. We all have to feed the baby elephant. This “child” ate bunches of bananas and watermelons. The elephant danced again while playing the harmonica. (Seriously.) In Thai culture the elephant is a symbol of the king, so in a broader sense it is used to represent the nation and its happiness. Then Nad and Alex planted a small “love tree” together, and raised a “marriage flag” on a long stick. The final Thai ceremony was very interesting. Guests were invited to light small lanterns wrapped in paper. As soon as it was ignited, by the force of the hot air inside it, it flew so far away, that it looked like distant stars. Each guest was encouraged to make a wish on these stars for good luck for the bride and groom.

In my personal speech, I talked about the wonderful lesson that the bride and groom taught us, by bringing us all together on that magical island. He showed us that people from different countries, cultures and religions can come together, enjoy socializing and different cultures, and make it look easy. I hope, I said, the whole world will learn the lesson of Nad and Alex. And, if they want an elephant to help them make it happen, guess what…

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