Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Closing the Circle, Wedding Remix

With joy and tears this story has come full circle, closing as it began with weddings that provide the most idyllic of departing memories.

Two years ago my older brother got married. Within a week of his wedding I was off to Israel on aliyah, my feet and hands still tingling from dancing with my family and composing a letter to explain why I was heading so far from home to build a new life and join the military. My first day in Israel felt like a second wedding, with dancing and speeches greeting me as I descended from the plane and formal paperwork awaiting my signature to confirm my new status as a citizen of the state of Israel.

Two months later I met the fifteen lone soldiers that would become my garin, brothers and sisters in building the intimate community that would see us through the duration of our lives as soldiers. On arriving at our new kibbutz home, we were of course promptly invited to a local wedding. That wedding was our communal baptism of sorts. Dancing and feasting together, joy and sweat tying the knots that would bind our garin with each other and with the kibbutz over the next two years. Had I known my adopted kibbutz family at the time, I would have understood that the way in which they opened their home (as the yichud room!) to the young bride and groom was an experience I would come to treasure for myself.

And then I joined the army, an exclusive relationship whose demands often seemed reminiscent of the less appealing sides of married life. While I was in the military there were many weddings I missed as I sweated out lonely nights running and gunning in the southern deserts and the northern hills. Yet even as I skipped weekends back on kibbutz, my garin grew ever closer.

Two garin members in particular became very close, to the point that when I finally made it to kibbutz I became the last one to realize that two members of our garin were forming a relationship whose path would continue far beyond our service in the army.

Two weeks ago my garin concluded our lives as soldiers. No longer a community of lone soldiers, each of us was left scrambling to make a new life in a country that seemed far too strange for the place we had been living in for two years. One by one we made plans to move off kibbutz, some to start college, others yeshiva and a few plucky fellas off to India. Two members of our garin had another idea however. Their love had deepened, and before the garin dispersed they wanted our help in celebrating the new life they had decided to build together.

Tonight, under a chuppah bound by a cloudless sky across the valley from our kibbutz, my garin's two brightest stars became as one. My garin stood by and cried, smiles splashed across our faces as the young bride and beaming groom enlisted in an adventure far grander than any of us had imagined when we came on aliyah, moved to the kibbutz, formed a community and joined the army. The bride and groom represent all that is best about the last two years. Both came to Israel bound by an old-fashioned Zionism, a commitment to explore their growing religious faith while putting their lives on the line for the country. Neither spoke much Hebrew. Neither was an obvious candidate to excel in the army. Yet more than anyone else in our garin, the bride and groom excelled, each of them repeatedly earning acclaim from their peers and superiors. As their Hebrew improved their values never slackened. Not only did they persevere through more than their fair share of military frustrations but the secret weapons they relied upon to do so - laughter and an understated resolve- was always shared in generous supply when the rest of us were facing our own challenges.

Tonight they are married. Beginning the next chapter in a story far more intriguing than anything you may have read through this open journal over the last two years.

As they placed rings on their fingers and shattered the glass there was no reason to restrain the tears of joy I hope to always remember when I reflect on the last two trying years of my life.

The story has come full circle.


  1. Read your entire blog today, and was wondering if American employers treat or think of you differently after serving in he IDF, and if it helped you getting employed?

  2. appreciate your reading & question. Unfor. I cannot provide the sharpest answer as I haven't sought employment in the US. A friend that was an officer in the IDF said it helped him in job search in US, but then again, he sought employment in the security/analyst field in conservative circles in DC.

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