Wedding of  Jenna Rose (238) and Ben Alpern (241,247), May 29, Jerusalem 

                                                                                                         The Bedecken

The wind blew through the trees of Tur Sinai, a small organic farm nestled in the hills just outside of  central Jerusalem.  Rustling skirts and tousling hair, the air cooled as the light of setting sun highlighted the smiling faces of the wedding guests. The invitees of the celebration spilled  into the open green reception area  bringing with them laughter, blessings, and more than two bus loads of simcha.

From the moment preparations began for the wedding, stories of Ben and Jenna were being swapped back and forth between friends and family of the couple. Weaving in between the clusters of people, snatches of conversation could be overheard-  of their arrivals in
Israel, participation with Livnot, growth in Judaism and the journey that had brought them to Tur Sinai to soon pass underneath a chupa.

I will always remember Ben and Jennas’ wedding as the one that made Jewish weddings real to me.

From the moment we stepped off the bus onto the wedding scene, I could not stop smiling.  I felt a breath of relief mixed quickly with an indescribable happiness as I saw it was not just a ‘bride’, but Jenna standing there. She was being photographed with golden-yellow sunflowers in hand, cowboy boots peeking out from under the hem of her dress. The scene was au-naturele, she was herself; a glowing clear-eyed bride, sweetly welcoming the people around her.

Jenna gave me a gift with the invitation to her wedding.

New to Israel, Jewish communities, and wedding ceremonies-she opened her heart to me in the busiest weeks of her life. After a brief meeting, we began to sow the seeds of friendship through Facebook. I shared with her my recent decision to live in Israel, instead of returning to Italy to explore the potential of a profound relationship with a man and a life a world a part from the one I was discovering here. I was sad and confused, she reached out  ” I am happy to know you’ll be around longer even though I know how heartbreaking that decision can be. I can tell you in my experience of listening to that inner voice, which sometimes sounded crazy, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Singing songs and clapping together in the circle of women that surrounded her in the ‘Kabbalah Panim’ we built a community to celebrate the bride. We grew out of ourselves into each other, together with voice and hands to form a unified female presence. Unified and inspired we poured out our excitement toward her, as we opened and shared her joy and ours became a continuous flow of light and energy.

I learnt from Ben and Jenna. That evening in Tur Sinai the couple took with each of us to know part in their journey; the audience experienced a small taste of their love story and their growth in Judaism as they transformed in front of our eyes from two souls to a new soul in two bodies.

Through them, we the guests lived the organic symphony of Jewish harmony. In part by participating in the mitzvah of bringing simcha to the Kala and Chatan, and in part listening, seeing and feeling the truth and beauty of their ceremony.  As a unique story and as one in a line of heritage and  history, I felt the hope to trust in the Jewish peoples’ building skills. The cycle of destruction and creation is eternal, and so we have adapted to growth-oriented lifestyles. The wedding is a declaration of choosing a life of  creation. Embracing change with grace, and commitment so they begin a life together; repairing and sustaining the world as they create anew.

Livnot Chevre are community builders in a community of builders. Young men and women who have participated in one of the various educational programs offered by Livnot over the last thirty-two years. Today, throughout  Israel and North America, our chevre are found participating in and spearheading countless communal innovation projects.

At Livnot, chevre are given the opportunity to learn about potential; both their own, and that of a community. Working both on the ‘inside’ and on the ‘outside,’ chevre are taught about perspective and balance in the process of healthy growth and development. Livnot wants to plant seeds in their participants. Seeds of consciousness that the chevre will carry with them into their futures.

Ben and Jenna are two of our fellow builders, in a community of chevre that are creating and educating as they participate in the world.

By Dinah Thaw. Dinah is a recent past chevre and one of our Summer Interns, reaching out to the hundreds of potential Livnoters passing through the Old City of Tzfat every day.