Zach and Rachel's Wedding

Zach and Rachel Sign Ketubah
Los Angeles, USA
December 4, 2011

The wedding contract needed to be signed by the bride, groom, and two witnesses. The rabbi asked if anybody had a pen. Yet in a room filled with over a hundred people there was nothing but silence.

Finally, Zach's mother spoke up:

"I have a pen in my purse. It's a shiny golden bag out in the other room, if somebody could go get it."

Zach, the groom, looked across the room at me.

"I'll bet Dave Wong has a pen we could use. Probably a nice calligraphy pen, at that," he announced.

He was right. I hadn't offered up the fountain pen that I carried in my pocket as I'd been standing far from the ceremony, out on the fringes of the room. Though Zach is a good old friend from high school days, I hadn't come to play any role central to the wedding party. It was only when Zach himself called me out by name that I wove my way forward through the crowd to offer my pen to the rabbi.

Ben, David, Dinosaur
What I carried wasn't a calligraphy pen as Zach was speculating, but a cheap fountain pen that I'd picked up the last time I was visiting China. Fancy or not, I know that everybody's signatures looked far better on the formal document than they would have had they been smeared out with some ordinary ballpoint pen.

Zach and Rachel's ketubah, the traditional Jewish wedding contract, has now been signed four times over with my fountain pen. I'll have to ask the couple to show it to me sometime later. At a glance, it looked supercool. The text is in Aramaic and Hebrew. Small bit as it may have been, I was glad to have played some role in their wedding.

The ketubah signing wasn't the start of the ceremonies. Immediately beforehand there had been a tisch followed by a bedecken. I'd never heard these words before.

I learnt that the tisch is the final gathering with the groom one last time as a single man. Only other males are in attendence. Toasts are offered. Songs are sung. What I found strange attending my first tisch was that for some reason I knew the lyrics and could carry the song better than most of the others attending the wedding. But I'm not Jewish. This was my first time attending a Jewish wedding, in fact. Zum Gali Gali, Shalom Chavarim any song from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. When did I learn the lyrics to these songs?

Zach and Rachel Hoisted
on Chairs During Dance
The ceremonies and reception were held at L.A.'s newly-renovated Natural History Museum. Rachel evidently has maintained a special affection for the brontosaurus since childhood. Independent of any attachment to Jurassic life, the museum was an amazing venue to host the affair. Skeletons of dinosaurs towered above us guests as we sipped cocktails and nibbled hors d'oeuvre. Along with the printed programs were personalized wedding souvenirs: yarmulkes with the date, the names of the couple, and barely visible impressions of dinosaurs stamped into the soft leather.

Thanks for inviting me to your special day, Zach and Rachel. I've never been to anything like your wedding celebration. Mazeltov!