Archive for the Chicago Category

The Wedding

Posted in Chicago, Weddings on September 1, 2008 by frumpunk

While holding up a table that my chosson friend was standing up waving to his kallah I couldn’t help but compare this wedding in Chicago to the one in Boro Park I went to last week. The Boro Park wedding was nice, basically extravagant by any standards. The hall was massive, the flowers were opulent and the schmorg kept going all through the wedding, serving everything you could possible want. Both the chosson and kallah at the Boro park wedding were apparently big machers in the community and the expected host of rabbinic royalty attended, dragging out the chuppah while the travelling trumpet band waited at the back to play the Siman Tov tune milliseconds after the breaking of the glass.

This Chicago wedding was far simpler. They rented a hall at the Midwest Conference Center (and apparently, retirement village) which was hosting at least two other weddings that day. His family was from Miami and there was almost no Miami turnout apart from relatives. Her family was from Chicago but had only moved there in the past three years so they weren’t too established. The overall turnout was nice but not packed, from our high school class there were only three of us. There was no schmorg and the meal was a simple salad, tomato soup, chicken and potatoes affair. But the atmosphere and dancing was unlike anything else I’ve ever been to. There were no extraneous guests, everyone there had a personal connection with the chosson and kallah and everyone therefore shared in the joy. I’ve never had such dancing in my life, and I’ve been to a lot of weddings.

There was a mechitza of course, but since everyone was close there was no need for an iron wall. We carried the chosson over to the other side where everyone stood together and watched the schtick. No one tried to outdo anyone and everyone tried to participate in something, even my friend with no dancing or juggling abilities did his but by putting on his suit backwards and trying to dance. Normally he would have been too embarrassed to do something so silly, but this wedding was a small family and close friends affair, there was no holding back for fear of looking silly. It may have been the only wedding I’ve ever been to that everyone was truly there to be mesameach the chosson and kallah.

For maybe the first time ever I’m actually at a loss of how to put my feelings about it into words. I just don’t think I can ever convey the experience of that wedding. I do know how jealous I am though. The chosson, who none of us ever knew could sing because he had always been too shy to try, had worked with the band keyboarding before and sang his own rendition of Ashes Chayil to his kallah and then utterly surprised us with a re-written version of James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”. (I know, I know.) Where normally such a thing would have been cheesy, here it transcended that because it was so genuine.

Tizku LaMitzvos.

Day Five

Posted in Chicago, Me on August 29, 2008 by frumpunk

My flight this morning was at 7.29am sharpish. At 6.23am my friend who I was flying with wakes up and goes “ohmygoshwhattimeisit, I forgot to set the alarm!” We get dressed as fast as was ever possible and while I’m stuffing some last minute stuff into a suitcase he’s on the phone calling a car service. We get to JFK in record time, but it was 6.40 and the sign said that all luggage must be checked in 45 minutes before take-off. I might have slipped through but there was a line, by the time I got to the front of the curbside check-in it was almost 7, and they told me it was too late and I’d have to try and check-in inside the terminal. Great, so not only was I late but I’d wasted time trying to save time by checking in outside.

By the time I got to the front line at the terminal it was 7.20 and there was no chance. My friend who had no luggage to check had gone straight inside and met me holding a boarding pass. I wasn’t going to hold him back so he took the flight while I paid $50 to Delta to be placed on the next flight two hours later. I’ve never had a good flight experience with Delta, something always goes wrong, usually involving luggage.

So at the end of the day, we at least made it to Chicago. Haven’t had a chance to see anything yet as I’m getting set up for Shabbos and the wedding, but from what I saw from the airport ride it seems nice, smallish sort of feel. After spending time in Brooklyn I understand why everything else is referred to as “out-of-town”. It has such a different feel that I’ve never noticed before, but when you leave New York the difference is remarkable. Everything seems a little less hectic and calm. ‘Course, that’s what New Yorkers end up complaining about. In Miami, they would all hang around a pizza shop complaining how slow the service is. We’re just a chillaxed people, I was thrown off-kilter in Brooklyn the first time I got pizza and it was handed to me right away. That just ain’t natural, an essential part of the pizza experience is hanging around waiting for it to cook as you browse the menu and other diners to judge how they’re enjoying their food and trying to guess how good it will be. Fast food takes that thrill away.

Anyways I’ll be in Chicago until Tuesday, hope that will be enough time to take it all in. I’ll be davening at Shaarei Tzedek tonight, now that I have some different shul experience, I plan on taking note of how they all work in different places.