Day 5: Don’t Joke with Jewish Weddings.

by Alexandra Rutkowski

It’s 2 in the morning, so I’m going to keep this one short. Last night and today, we had the privilege of spending time with the former prime minister’s sister-in-law. We had dinner with her last night and she led us through the Diaspora Museum today. It highlighted the exodus of the Jewish people and several aspects of their culture. I found one particular story quite amusing. Just thought I’d share.

Okay, so in the Jewish culture, all you need (besides the bride and groom of course) for a wedding is a “roof” (often a fabric), the rings, an object of some value to exchange, and three witnesses over the age of thirteen. One day, before class began, two fourteen-year-old school children in class were joking around and the class decided to throw a fake wedding for fun. These kids were playing around, exchanged Coca Cola bottles, used the bottle caps as rings, and jokingly said in Hebrew “We are now man and wife.” All the kids laughed and class began. Nine years later, these two kids have broken up a long time ago, and the girl has finally found the man of her dreams. She goes to the rabbi to make it official, and he asked her if she’s ever been married before. She jokingly tells him the story, thinking it’s all fun and games, and his face turns white. Turns out, she cannot marry because she has been married to that boy from school by law all these years! She finally tracks him down, gets a divorce, and returns to marry her man. At the ceremony, the rabbi asks the man to repeat his full name. He turns pale when he hears the last name is Cohen. That means he descended from the tribe of Levi, the priestly line! “I’m so so sorry,” he said, “but you’re a Levite. You can’t marry a divorced woman.”

True story. Perhaps a little depressing, but at least a bit funny. It’s a good lesson though. Don’t mess around when it comes to marriage. That’s serious business, especially if you’re Jewish.

            Alright, now for some 24. So, we’ve got connections. With a man. A very cool man. In fact, he’s the Vice President for the World Counter Terrorism Organization. He’s a legend and the best of the FBI and the elite of the world are sent to be trained by him. That’s definitely some Jack Bauer meets Israel right here! He never speaks to groups like us, but because he respects us, he met with us for several hours… and today was even his birthday!

            I wasn’t feeling well on top of being exhausted, and I started zoning out during his lecture. My head rolled back three times and when I read my lecture notes, they were nonsensical- starting out with missile defense systems, and leading to phonographic sheep singing in the gated bomb shelter. Yeah, I’m not showing those notes to anyone. When I was fully awake, it felt like a CTU briefing from 24. So legit! Afterwards, we all thanked him and shook hands with him in a line. I was dreading eye contact because I was terrified he would call me out on the whole drifting to sleep thing. He didn’t. There is a God!

Time for bed. It’s 3 am and the lights are going in the lobby. Shalom!


I heard a very interesting quote today: “If you live in

Israel and do not believe in miracles, you are not a realist.” So true. Their entire history is a testimony to the power of God. Something I’m reminded of every day.