Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Long Long Island Weekend, or, How I Came to Learn the Hora

Over the holiday weekend, Eric and I (along with our road trip friend Kim Everitt, who took these great photos) made our way to Temple Judea in Manhasset, Queens on Long Island, NY (Can one be in the other? Is one part of the other? Unclear.) for the nuptials of our friend Alyssa and her now-husband Eric.

It was a beautiful ceremony with an... enthusiastically dynamic cantor singing the prayers. The best part was probably when Alyssa's rabbi from home could barely hold back laughter each time the windows started to rattle when the cantor really went for those crescendos. At least we knew we weren't alone!

No no no, I don't really mean that was the best part. It was incredibly moving to see them circle each other, and when Alyssa's voice broke while saying the vows -- she apparently had been completely calm all day, and that was the moment she was (audibly) overcome with emotion. And of course! The breaking of the glass at the end!

The reception was incredible. Easily the most lavish -- and largest -- wedding I've attended to date (which is pretty crazy, given the weddings we've attended this year). Besides the enormous and delicious kosher gift basket waiting for us upon our arrival at the hotel, there seemed to be a never-ending source of food emanating from the vicinity of this event. Beyond the champagne and fruit skewers before the ceremony, they had small-plate food stations immediately following the ceremony, including caviar, sushi, Asian stir-fry, Italian pasta, carved meat, canapes, passed deep-fried goodies, and an impressively large crudite and dip display, all in addition to the three premium bars in the room. We all ate the hors d'oeurves like they were dinner -- there was so much food, it was easy to make that assumption. Mistakenly.

At this point, it was not entirely obvious why we had been given a name card with a table number on it. And then the doors opened up and we heard the sounds of a nine-piece band coming from the other side. Oh yes. There was more.

As we made our way in, the band leader instructed everyone to come to the floor for what may be the most joyous activity I have ever witnessed. The Hora. (Not sure what I'm talking about? See here, here, or here.) Total strangers holding hands, circling the bride and groom to blaring Kletzmer music -- usually Hava Nagila or something similar, I'm told -- working themselves into a happy frenzy. Then, someone who knows what to do brings in two *sturdy* *non-folding* chairs, and the happy couple hold on for dear life while their nearest and dearest hoist them up on the chairs in a gesture of honor and goofy jubilation. If you can bring yourself to trust those below, you might choose to let go a hand to grab onto the handkerchief you and your new spouse share to "hold hands" (apparently, if you actually hold hands, one of you will get pulled off).

And then -- "What? Wait --there's more food? That buffet wasn't it...?" That's right, mixed green salad accompanied by a roasted vegetable torte appears from the kitchen, along with wine and a server asking what we'd like for dinner. "Why, I'll have the teriyaki salmon!" Of course, Eric opted for the prime rib, and Kim, to round out our trio, chose the chicken almondine. Mine tasted like candy -- just like I like my fish, thank you.

And so we dance. Or sing along. Whatever. And then an hour or something later -- plated desserts and more wine. Did I mention it was only now that we realized there was a bar IN the ballroom? So I settled in with my cosmo (set next to my white wine, champagne, and water) and a plate filled with a molten chocolate cake, along with a scoop of amazingly fruity raspberry sorbet set in a cookie/sugar-cone cup, served with a mix of fresh berries is dropped at my seat. And a tray of small cookies, petit fours, and fudge for the whole table, is put smack in front of me. And then came the cake cutting, immediately followed by the cake serving. (The cake was incredibly light -- it had almost a lemon/citrus-chocolate thing going on. Delish.) At that point I felt comfortable enough to say, "I think I'm pregnant with food. Look. I'm showing..." All that was left to do was sit until we could wish Alyssa and Eric our best and be on our way home to digest.

One last picture of us looking snazzy.

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