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Backgrounder on Purim

Purim in 2020 starts on Monday, March 9 and ends on the evening of Tuesday, March 10th. As you probably know, this is not a public holiday but a Jewish holiday that commemorates the delivery of the Jewish people from oppression and tyranny in the Persian Empire, which then spread over “127 lands” and is recounted in the Book of Esther (4thcentury BCE).

Esther rose to be Queen of Persia but failed to disclose to the King that she was Jewish. Her mentor was Mordecai, leader of the Jews and Esther’s cousin. Haman, the King’s Prime Minister, is determined to destroy the Jewish community in Persia because Mordecai refuses to bow down to him. He picks a date by lottery. However, his plans are foiled by Esther. With Mordecai’s counsel, she reveals to the King that she’s Jewish and exposes and denounces Haman’s intent. This turns the tables on the oppressor and, instead of being the focus of Haman’s decree, the Jews are able to “destroy their enemies by royal proclamation.” Mordecai is appointed Prime Minister.

Go to our YouTube channel–the Rabbi David Gellman Show–for a reading of the Book of Esther and an explanation of the holiday.

Celebrating Purim

The day before Purim is often a day of fasting, but Purim is considered a joyous community celebration and usually marked by reading from the book of Esther in the evening and the following morning.  It is also celebrated by giving mutual gifts of food and drink to friends (two gifts is the tradition), plus two gifts of food, money, or clothing to the poor. It’s also traditional to enjoy a festive joyous meal with family and friends of meat and wine (and other intoxicating beverages!)— and children and adults often dress up in masks and costumes—usually from the Purim story.

If you’re ready to dress up and party—now’s the time to start thinking about it. There’s a great shop in the east end of the GTA that covers everything you need to wear for parties—(weddings as well—especially if you’re a fan of vintage!). Reflections (Vintage) have some amazing masks.

You can check out their wares online (Dominique and Karen are the proprietors) or in person at the store—here’s the link:  to view vintage and new theatrical costumes, clothing, and accessories.

Jay and Leah with Rabbi David Gellman

Our Interfaith Jewish Wedding with Horses, a Dog, and a Strong Hint of Winter!

From the moment we met with Rabbi David, we knew we had found the one to lead our Interfaith ceremony. He made us feel comfortable and any worry we had about the ceremony was put aside when he walked us through the process with confidence and experience. 

“Rabbi David went above and beyond to make our wedding ceremony absolutely perfect. He made the ceremony truly unique to reflect our needs by listening to our story and weaving it into the words he so beautifully wrote.  He also incorporated both English and Hebrew and explained the meaning behind everything he did. Our family and friends can’t say enough about how beautiful, in-depth, and meaningful the ceremony was and how it was a true reflection of us both.

“We feel very fortunate to have found Rabbi David! It was truly an honor.” Leah and Jay.

 

How to start planning an interfaith wedding—

Leah and Jay decided on an interfaith wedding but didn’t quite know what to do next. So Leah says she did what most of us resort to these days when stumped—she googled interfaith weddings in Toronto—and was lucky enough, she says, to find Rabbi David Gellman.

“And we were very very happy that we did,” says Leah, who works for an advertising agency in Toronto, and wanted everything not only to be just right on her dream wedding day —but to represent them both in exactly the way they see themselves.

“Jay works in film as a production designer, and I’m in advertising—we wanted everything to feel real and just right, and it did.

“My family—my mother and grandparents—were rooting for a Jewish wedding. Jay isn’t Jewish. We talked about it with Rabbi David, and he was able to incorporate the Jewish elements we requested. I didn’t want to include the seven circles, for example—and we had a wonderful wedding that pleased us both very much as well as all the family. The ceremony was emotional and moving and a perfect mix of Jay and me. Everyone was touched by the ceremony and that it stayed true to who we are.”

Jay and Leah have been married just a few months now, and life is wonderful. They had been together about three years before tying the knot, and Leah said they love to do typical everyday things. Having a local outdoor wedding on an amazing farm suited their lifestyle and hopes for a memorable wedding day. “We love simple things—walking the dog (Jack!), hosting dinner parties for friends, going to movies—all the everyday stuff, and we didn’t want a big event-type wedding or one that was too-tailored. We wanted our day to be moving and true to who we are and enjoyable for everyone.” With Rabbi David Gellman, Leah says, this was achieved and more.

The video of the wedding shows the emotion and warmth of the day—even though it was chilly out in the fields. “We told everyone to dress warm, and they did.” This included the bride who donned a jacket over her beautiful lacy wedding dress later to warm up.

Because the wedding was outdoors, they were also able to involve another important member of the family in the festivities—Jay and Leah’s lovely dog Jack seemed to enjoy the entire ceremony, as well, especially the visits with the horses. The hosts added another unique element to the mix when they made a very generous gesture and introduced their horses to everyone for a great photo opportunity.

The reception took place in a tent set up for the day on the grounds of the lovely farm near Milton, which is where the ceremony itself took place.

Leah says that the day was such a nice coming together of family. Everybody was happy. “It was intimate, with not too many people. This made it more special to us because everyone was able to gather around and just enjoy our wonderful wedding.”

“You were a huge part of our day and we will remember you and your wife’s involvement forever. Jay and I are so thankful to have found you! You made our day!!!! Thank you again and again!”  All our love, Leah and Jay