The Rabbi and the Elephant: How I Officiated a Cosmopolitan Interfaith Wedding in Thailand

With guests from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Thailand and the U.S. present, Nad and Alex’s wedding was easily one of the most cosmopolitan I had ever officiated. With a relatively classic inclusive Jewish ceremony, bookended by Thai customs, it was certainly 1 of the most intercultural. Throw in the truth that I was upstaged by an elephant, and you have the backdrop for a excellent story!

While one particular may possibly consider that the coupling of a Russian Jew and a Thai Buddhist may possibly be a challenge, this bride and groom showed that it want not be so. This might just be because the bride, Nad (brief for Nadusa), and the groom, Alex, who live in Australia, are true citizens of the world. Nad was born in Thailand, but grew up primarily in Australia and Europe, due to her father’s operate for Royal Thai Airways. She was schooled in an international school in Paris, and is fluent in (standard American accented) English, French, German and Thai. Alex was born in Russia, and he grew up there and (from age 15) in the U.S. He trained as a radiologist at Harvard, and practices a particular kind of medicine that embodies the global village we live in. If you ever have an x-ray done in the middle of the night, you may possibly wonder exactly where on earth they uncover a radiologist to read it. Properly, on the bottom component of the earth, that is where! It may possibly, in fact, be Alex, a “nighthawk” radiologist, who by virtue of being in a very diverse time zone, will, throughout what is day for him, get a report back to your stateside medical doctor. Nad also (naturally) functions for an international corporation.

The couple reflects a cosmopolitan life not only in their upbringing, their expert lives and their private day to day lives, but also in their philosophy of living. They are both extremely proud of their cultural heritages, but in terms of actual religious beliefs are much far more humanistic in their leanings. They wanted their ceremony to reflect this, and their thought of how it would was to have a pretty traditional, whilst inclusive, Jewish ceremony, with Thai customs before and right after it. For the location, they chose Koh Samui, a little picturesque island in the southern portion of Thailand.

Their fascinating beachside ceremony began with the sound of the beating of a gong and drums and males we could not yet see, shouting in Thai, “Right here we come, we are right here,” as they drew closer. The first factor we then saw was 4 ornately and traditionally dressed young Thai females, swaying slowly as they processed. We then saw the men we had heard before, followed by the “guest of honor” – a infant elephant! The elephant was decorated with ornate jewelry and was dancing also. They brought in the groom, and sat him subsequent to the bride. One of the men then set up a xylophone, and the 4 females danced to its music an elaborate synchronized dance in front of the bride and groom. They ended by spreading just before them a bed of rose petals in perfect synchronization.

I then officiated the Jewish portion of the ceremony below a lovely chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy) on the beach. They exchanged heartfelt vows and rings, and shared a cup of wine. They signed an attractive ketubah (ceremonial Jewish marriage contract) written in Hebrew, English and Thai. (Nad’s mom, a professional translator, helped with the translation.) I then blessed them with the Priestly Blessing, which is the most ancient copy of scripture archeologists have located in Israel. I explained how our forefathers, these who gave us the Torah, imagined my mythic ancestor, the initial higher priest, Aaron, brother of Moses, blessing the Kids of Israel with these extremely words. I really like reciting this blessing in a third language (aside from Hebrew and English) when appropriate. In fact, I have blessed couples in Spanish (I do reside in Tejas, after all), French, Arabic and Bulgarian. This time I employed four languages, as I blessed Nad and Alex with the words of my great ancestor and theirs in Hebrew, English, Russian and Thai.

Soon after the Jewish portion of the ceremony, we observed far more Thai customs. We all got to feed the baby elephant. This “child” ate entire clusters of bananas and watermelon quarters. The elephant also danced some much more even though playing the harmonica. (Seriously.) In Thai culture the elephant is the symbol of the king, and consequently in a broader sense is employed to symbolize the nation and its happiness. Nad and Alex then planted a tiny “adore tree” with each other, and raised a “marriage flag” on a tall employees. The final Thai custom was most interesting. Guests have been invited to light modest paper-covered lanterns. Once lit, by the virtue of the hot air inside, these rose far into the air, till they looked like far away stars. Every single guest was encouraged to make a wish upon these stars for the excellent fortune of the bride and groom.

Throughout my individual remarks, I talked about what a great lesson the bride and groom taught us, in bringing us all together on that magical island. They showed us that folks from different countries, cultures and religions can come with each other, take pleasure in every single other’s organization and cultures, and make this appear effortless. Hopefully, I stated, the complete planet will discover Nad and Alex’s lesson as well. And, if they need an elephant to help make this take place, take into account it accomplished…