Weddings. Just the word alone is enough to harbor fear and excitement in a young couple. Caterers, wedding halls, music, invitations, the dress – its enough to make one want to elope. When the bride lives 6,000 miles away from where she grew up and the couple’s parents speak different languages, that can make it just a bit more challenging.
Deborah Lobel and Nimrod Shafran met at Da’at in 2008 when both were working as tour operators. Working together in Da’at’s friendly, high-energy office environment proved to be the perfect place to meet for this couple, whose wedding took place this month.
Deborah, known as Deb, left Da’at in 2009 and returned to her original field of special education as program director of Shutaf, a local program for kids and teens with special needs. Nimrod, known as Nim, remained at Da’at – he enjoys his work with groups and families, helping them enjoy a positive experience when they visit Israel.
So how did they plan their October wedding? On their own, reports Deb, adding, “it was very organized, easy really.” Given their experience organizing trips for Da’at clients, the logistics that make others nervous were a slam-dunk for this capable couple – in fact, taking care of arrangements suited their personalities. A good friend from Da’at helped ensure they didn’t forget any of the small details when booking the place and settling on the menu, band and other myriad details involved in a wedding.
Israel’s relaxed party attitude makes it easy. “My family was in shock at how big the wedding is,” remarks Deb. “Here in Israel, it’s the more the merrier.”
The out-of-towners were also excited about the laid-back Israeli dress code, partying sans suit and tie, which is a nice change of pace from the black tie affairs back home. Nim and Deb wore proper wedding attire, knowing that some of their guests would opt for a more casual look, as is standard at Israeli weddings.
As for the couple’s parents, they had met a few times, enjoying getting to know each other. Luckily, the language barrier wasn’t too much of a big deal; Nim’s parents speak excellent English, a nice plus. “The distance is the only disadvantage,” says Deb, “but they’ll get to know each other better in the years to come.”
Deb’s parents did want to find a way to mark the moment with their home community of Albany, New York, along with friends and family, as there are many who aren’t traveling to Israel for the big day. The couple took several trips to the U.S. in order to plan and made time to bring Deb’s grandmother along to a dress fitting on one of the visits, in order to involve her in the celebrations “as much as possible,” says Deb. A celebratory brunch was held right before Rosh Hashanah in Albany, kicking off the wedding festivities.
Wedding day aside, what to do with the entourage of some 40-odd family and friends arriving in Israel for the big day? When the groom is a tour educator, it’s a given that some special activities will be planned. The wedding party spent the weekend following the wedding in Israel’s southern region. When seeking an activity that appeals to the different ages of their guests, Nim chose Shvil HaSalat, the ‘Salad Trail,’ in the Negev region at Moshav Talmei Yosef, where resident farmer Uri Alon guides guests through fields of flowers, herbs and specialty plantings, like the organic strawberries grown in a special way (no spoilers here, go and find out for yourself). Alon also raises carrier pigeons – a special side passion that he’ll happily share while relaxing after the tour with an al fresco meal that is part of the Talmei Yosef visit.
Within a week of the wedding, the guests departed for their respective hometowns, hopefully replete. They experienced an Israeli party celebrating with Israelis both secular and religious and enjoyed tastes and treats not usually seen at American Jewish weddings. They also have visited some new places and, most importantly, shared in Deb and Nim’s dream of a wonderful future, here in Israel, together. Mazal tov.