Wednesday, January 26, 2005

From Japan To Israel, With Love

The other night B. and I attended a wedding where I noticed an abnormally high number of Japanese people at the wedding. I am in no way racist (or "Japo-phobic", as B. put it), but at most Orthodox, religious weddings in Israel there are not too many Japanese. In fact, of the over 100 weddings I've been to, this may have been the first time I saw a Japanese person at a religious wedding. And there were at least 10 at this one.

Anyway, B. and I asked another guest how the bride/groom (both Israeli, neither of whom worked in international relations or business) came to know such a large group of Japanese people. It turns out the father of the groom is a professor at Hebrew University and became friendly with a group of religious Christian students doing a semester abroad from...Japan.

At Israeli weddings, in lieu of the always-boring speeches, close friends and families will often do something a little more personal - like a skit, or a dance, or a slide presentation - for the bride and groom. So B. I were intrigued when the Japanese contingency got up to perform.

The men were sporting large white kippot, all the performers were wearing blue-and-white vests, and one of the women had an accordian. The leader said, (in perfect Hebrew, natch) that they were very excited to be able to perform at this wedding and that they were going to perform traditional Israeli songs, IN JAPANESE!!

First off was "Zion, Zion, Zion" which was a scream to hear. After the lyrics in Japanese, they finished it off with "Aiiiy-yaaiii-yaiii-yaaii Zion!" Then they performed "L'maan Zion lo eshtok" (For the sake of Zion I will not be silent), also in Japanese. Then they sang "Heveinu Shalom Alechem" in Hebrew, and for an encore, performed a delightful Japanese love song.

I have heard that the Japanese people really love their karaoke, but these people were loving it up there so much! Which was good, because most of the other guests were total duds.

Anyway, B. made fun of me for "counting the Japanese people" - but really, I thought it was so nice that they were integrating so well into Israeli society and that they were so overjoyed to be in Israel, singing at the wedding of yet another bride and groom who had fulfilled the prophecy, "It will yet be heard in the cities of Judah and the outskirts of Jerusalem; a voice of joy and a voice of happiness, a voice of a groom, and a voice of a bride..."

Or the voice of Japanese students with a deep love for Israel...

UPDATE: I am posting the following comment by Rahel. B. and I went to look at the links she included, and we agree that the people we saw were definitely who Rahel thought they were. The tip off was the bright blue vests/waistcoats in one of the pictures.
"Rahel said...
Sounds like the Makuya. They recorded with Shuly Nathan, too."
Follow the link - its fascinating reading!


Blogger Sarah said...

Great post!

1:12 AM  
Blogger Rahel said...

Sounds like the Makuya. They recorded with Shuly Nathan, too.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

That's great.
I would have loved to see that!

Thanks for sharing that wonderful experience.

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