If there’s one thing Israelis don’t take lightly, it’s weddings. But due to the recently announced restrictions of gatherings and international travel, many weddings have had to be postponed, another casualty of this pandemic.
Now that the Health Ministry issued its new guidelines on Tuesday that no one should go out except for food, medical treatment or work in essential industries, it’s clear that there is no choice but to postpone weddings.
But during the roughly two-week period when gatherings were limited – first to 5,000, then to 1,000, 100 and 10 – some Israelis found ways to marry.
The rules have affected everyone, including superstar singer Eyal Golan and his fiancee, Daniel Greenberg, who chose to postpone their lavish reception last week and marry in a modest ceremony before family and friends.
Wedding celebrations were held this week in courtyards with the bride and groom serenaded by musicians and friends from balconies, as well as in parks, streets or even, in one case, in an Osher Ad supermarket.
But on the Channel 12 news on Monday night, Moshe Bar Siman Tov, the director general of the Health Ministry, had blistering criticism for the grocery store wedding and all gatherings at which people tried to bend the letter of the law, giving a hint of the stricter regulations that were announced on Tuesday.
“We see that people try to evade the restrictions in this way or that way. We heard of people who held a wedding in a supermarket. That’s not the intention [behind the regulations]. We are not playing cops and robbers with you. There is a virus here… You can’t negotiate with it,” he told news anchor Yonit Levi.
So for many Israelis, love in the age of the novel coronavirus means upending plans made months or even years in advance, as well as possibly losing the deposits on wedding halls and fees to caterers and other wedding-related vendors.
Leor Belgazal, a Tel Aviv-based filmmaker who planned to marry his fiancee, makeup artist Ann Hasson, in a ceremony on March 29 that would have been attended by about 300 guests, many of whom were coming from Europe and the US, was philosophical about the sudden need to postpone the wedding.
“There were two stages. In the first stage, we knew that [the ban on large gatherings] would affect us and in the second we knew it would affect our guests. Once they limited the number of people at an event to 5,000, we felt that there would be more regulations to come,” he said. “We already spoke to someone at the venue.” Quite a few of their guests were coming from London and there were as yet no restrictions on tourists from England, but it soon became clear that all the guests would have to be in quarantine for two weeks before the wedding and that wouldn’t be feasible.
Belgazal doesn’t want his money back from the hall, he just wants to reschedule, which isn’t as simple as it sounds.
“At first we thought June, but then we realized that probably couldn’t happen, so now we’re thinking November,” he said.
But he and his fiancee decided to be married before a rabbi on Thursday.
“We thought of having the ceremony with the rabbi on the 29th, but there are more and more restrictions every day, so we decided to do it as soon as possible,” he said.
Anna Ahronheim, the military correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, has had a similar dilemma with her wedding, which has now also been postponed. She and her fiance had planned to marry before 350-400 guests on April 7 in Netanya. Initially, the issue was over guests from abroad, from her native Canada and other countries, who wouldn’t be able to attend. Several of her family members are medical personnel who are urgently required to keep working in Canada. And, like Belgazal, she is trying to arrange to hold the religious wedding ceremony as soon as possible and put off the reception till happier times.
One young man, who preferred not to give his name, said he and his fiancee had tried to save their wedding, deciding to cut down the guest list and hold it in a garden, to comply with the Health Ministry’s previous guidelines. But due to the current situation, it has also been postponed. He was happy, however, that a venue at Kibbutz Ramat Rahel had refunded his money.
“We will get married but we still don’t know when,” he said.
For him and hundreds of others around the country, the coronavirus is proving that while you can’t hurry love, you sometimes have to postpone it.