Wednesday, August 09, 2006


e dress rehearsal at Hangar 11 in Tel Aviv's old port yesterday was like a military operation. Forty couples stood holding hands as producer Eliran Bardougo briefed them on the mass wedding ceremony they will take part in next week. "Pay attention. At the entrance there will be a red carpet, on which you'll walk up to the canopies (huppas). By the sea, 40 canopies will be waiting - everyone must bring his own guys to grab him a huppa, okay? There will be no safes, am I clear? Put the checks in grandmother's pocket," he said. All the couples are residents of the bombarded North who decided to take part in the mass wedding Bardougo is producing in Tel Aviv.
"It's incredible how in Tel Aviv you don't feel what's happening where we come from," mused Dror Buchnik of Yesod Hama'ala. Buchnik, 32, and his fiancee Livnat Halal, 31, had booked Tiberias' Ganei Mitzpor for an August 9 wedding but a month ago a rocket hit the hall and demolished it. Buchnik didn't have time to mourn the postponed wedding. He is a fire fighter in Safed and is busy from morning to night putting out fires caused by the rockets. "I'm seeing him today after he has been gone for almost a month," says Halal. The invitations for 600 guests had been printed, but remain at home. Halal's wedding dress remains in her seamstress' bombed-out house in Ramot Naftali. "It's dangerous getting to her; she also fled the moshav." Two weeks ago a colleague at the fire depot saw Bardougo on Channel 2 inviting couples from the north, whose wedding was canceled due to the fighting, to contact him. "We called Eliran, but we weren't sure. It isn't the wedding we were dreaming of - but we realized we had no other choice at the moment," she said. Some 350 other couples also called Bardougo. "We had to be picky," says Bardougo. "We focused on couples who were both from the north and took only those who proved they were really about to be married." The mass ceremony will be held by Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger. Bardougo says he turned down Arab and Christian couples who asked to take part in the ceremony "due to the need to hold a kosher Jewish wedding ceremony." "We also turned down the gay and lesbian couples who called me," he says. Bardougo said he had the idea of producing a mass wedding when his niece Liraz and her fiance Tzali had to put off their wedding. "I made some phone calls to friends in the business and everyone was enthusiastic. Galit Levy agreed to design dresses for everyone; Segal Fashion agreed to provide suits for the grooms; Shuki Zikri agreed to do the brides' hair; Shelly Gafni agreed to make them up. Everyone volunteered," he said. He also recruited a DJ and singers Shlomi Shabat, Lior Narkis and others. The couples were asked to invite no more than 100 guests each. "The ceremony and party will be in the Hangar 11 club, but outside there will be a quiet compound for guests who want to sit quietly," Bardougo told the couples. The brides held their final rehearsals in beauty parlors yesterday. At 6:30 P.M. they arrived for a final group photograph. On thetir wedding day they will arrive earlier, to be photographed against the backdrop of the sea. "We want all the ceremonies to take place together, so that you all break the glass together," Bardougo instructs them. The couples ask repeatedly why no safes were arranged for the checks. But Buchnik and Halal are not bothered. "We asked our guests not to bring anything. In any case once this war is over we'll have a big party. They can bring the checks then," Buchnik says.


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