The Jewish Wedding: Families and Tradition

Kathy and I had the pleasure of attending a wedding a couple of weeks ago.  The wedding was stunningly beautiful and dripping with the sweetness of tradition and family.  See this was a Jewish wedding and there is no wedding ceremony and celebration that I have experienced that is like a Jewish wedding.  Every part of the ceremony and celebration is rich in tradition and symbolism.  The Jewish wedding celebration is truly a family event that brings in relatives from all over the country providing:

An opportunity to reconnect with family.

An opportunity to strengthen the bonds to each other.

An opportunity to be in community together.

An opportunity to have fun as a family.

Frankfort Lighthouse- Wikipedia

Frankfort Lighthouse- Wikipedia

There is an incredible amount of power in the Jewish traditions that is harnessed in the strong bonds of family.  Although there is certainly exclusivity, the Jews have managed to stay bonded together even in the face of the mixing bowl of the United States.  This bond of ethnicity is a powerful propellant.  To be Jewish means to take care of your own.  Provide opportunities for the youngsters and offer deep respect for your elders.  This power, I believe, we loose in our hunger to assimilate here in the U.S.

How can we reconnect with this power?

Take every opportunity to celebrate your ethnic roots.  As a family, we sing a Polish birthday song called Sto Lat.  I learned it from my father and we have continued to sing Sto Lat at all of our family birthday celebrations after the traditional American happy birthday song.  We continue singing after everyone else has stopped- in Polish- as a tribute to our family heritage.  I feel like its our way of saying- this is our family and this is our tradition. There is also some exclusivity here.  Our family, our heritage, and our tradition.  We have sung Sto Lat loud and proud in restaurants and housefuls of friends outside of our family.  I suspect my children will continue this with their children, and so on it goes.

As I write this, I am sitting in a bed and breakfast enjoying some R&R in Frankfort, Michigan.  Every year at the 4th of July we would travel as a family and vacation here for the 4th holiday.  So many great memories here.  They flood back as we have visited the places we went years ago.  Another sweet tradition for our family.  Traditions and family are powerful.  If you don’t leverage these two forces you are missing a great opportunity to bind your family together and harness the power of the family unit.  As a group you can do much more good than on your own.  A family can be unstoppable. Tap into this power.

Happy Father’s Day and….Mazel tov!

What are some of your family traditions?  Do you celebrate your culture or do you hide it?  Click on comments and tell us your story!

16 And What?

This one is for Dads…

This is a guest post from a friend of mine- David Dusek.  David leads a ministry called Rough Cut Men ( that focuses on getting men to begin engaging with one another in an authentic and transparent way.  Using major motion picture clips, men come away realizing that they are not the only ones going through lifes challenges. David using the illustrations to equip men to deal with these challenges and encourage them to “walk through life” with other men.  A native of Florida, David resides in Sarasota with his wife and their five children.  You can contact David through the link to his website above. 

Being the father of about 412 teenagers (okay, only 5, but it sometimes seems like 412), I occasionally get blindsided by stuff, often after-the-fact.  You dads know what I’m talking about:   “I can’t go check the mail, Dad.  I forgot to tell you that I backed over the mailbox this morning”, or “I spent the entire day with [insert the name of the person you can barely stand here] watching [insert the title of your choice of inappropriate movies here]. 


You would think that, after enough years and enough kids, I would have heard it all.  But today just really set me off.  As a disclaimer, I wasn’t upset at one of the kids.  I was inflamed by the entire circumstance and I guess you get to read my tirade.  And if you aren’t just as twisted over this as I am after you read it, then you may want to read it again!

Apparently it was a wedding day, and a friend-of-a-friend of one of our girls was taking her vows.  It did strike me as a little odd that the wedding was at 5 PM on a Wednesday, but maybe it was the only time that the church was free?  Our daughter got dressed up and headed out the door, not in what I would classify as typical wedding attire.  But times have changed, right?

I guess I had no idea how much times have changed until I found out more details about the wedding, after the fact.  First, the girl is pregnant, as in “shotgun wedding”.  And she is sixteen.  As in, “I can officially get my license now” sixteen.  Or even  “Four years ago, I was twelve” sixteen.

For a while now, I have been slowing coming to a rolling boil over the garbage that has become popular television for the aforementioned age demographic.  Shows like “Pretty Little Liars” and “Liars Club” program our youth to think that it’s okay to lie.  Period. There’s no overarching theme other than “Speaking mistruth is okay”.   My parents wouldn’t let me watch the “Brady Bunch” if Bobby stole a cookie from Jan, for crying out loud!

The shows that really illustrate how failed we are as a society are “Sixteen and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”.  These shows glamorize being pregnant, or being a mother, while in high school, and they are just the worst kind of crap.  Both pregnancy and motherhood are reserved for women at least five or ten years older, and only as an integrated part of marriage to a husband.  The shows depict young ladies, living at home, gleefully preparing baby bedrooms under the roof of their respective parents.  And it’s just wrong!

You know what else is missing, in large part, from the expecting teenagers homes?  One word:  DAD.

Here’s the deal, men.  We are morally, financially, spiritually and legally responsible for our girls.  When they turn 18, the government says that they can vote, die for our country and even pay their own consequences for bad decisions as an adult.  But guess what? Even when they turn 18, we are STILL morally, spiritually and usually financially responsible for them. 

I don’t know about you, but I am all for averting disaster.  We must do our job as dad to ensure the greatest odds of success for our girls.  By “do our job”, I am not talking about providing for them.  That’s just part of the deal when you have a kid.  Providing would be the ‘minimum acceptable standard’ of being their father.

Here are a few guidelines to follow if you are bringing up girls (and yeah, it’s a lot different from raising boys):

  1. Tell her how beautiful she is.  There is a strong probability that she feels ugly today…just sayin’
  2. Tell her that you love her.  A lot!
  3. Hug her.  A lot!
  4. Take her out on a date every few weeks, or every week if you can.  Show her what a “normal” evening should look like.
  5. Model love, respect and service towards your wife.  Remember, more is caught than taught.  She is going to look for someone just like you, like it or not.

Here’s a thought to remember, guys.  If we aren’t loving on our daughters, somebody else will be.  Some guys prey on girls, and EVERY girl needs to feel loved, appreciated and beautiful. That’s YOUR job!

Guard your princess!

Do you have some other good guidelines to share for raising daughters?  Click on comment below and share your ideas!