Toasting Wills and Kate in Beit Shemesh

Last week’s royal wedding was a chance for ex-Brits living here to dust off their oh-so-English two-piece suits and don outrageous Ascot-style hats.

Royal wedding celebrations 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Royal wedding celebrations 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It may not have been a personal missive from Queen Elizabeth II via the Lord Chancellor, printed on thick white card with gilt edges and gold lettering, but the e-mail invitation received on the computer screens of many ex-Brits more than a month ago got royal wedding fever started in Beit Shemesh.
According to the Street Party website, more than one million Brits took part in over 5,500 street parties across the UK on April 29 to celebrate Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton. Our local crowd opted for a Royal Garden Party held at the Hamburger residence in the Nofei Aviv neighborhood.
Hostess Maryon Hamburger, who has been living in Israel for 18 years, decided that the royal nuptials were good enough reason to throw a party.
“At first, we limited the guest list to ex-Brits only, but after an Australian friend complained at having been left out, we extended it to the Commonwealth too.”
For the six weeks, Hamburger obsessed over ordering bunting and flags online, shopping for red, white and blue table decorations and finalizing the menu, together with the help of her fellow wedding enthusiast friends.
“Don’t think I’m not proud of being an Israeli. Quite the opposite,” she explained. “But celebrating royal family events, with all the pomp and circumstance that they entail, is what the British do well.”
Male guests had been requested to come in “uniform, morning coat or lounge suit” and the ladies were told to look ladylike and wear their fanciest shul hats.
Chanan Paritsky, who was born and bred in Israel, merited an invitation to the garden party due to his wife Dinah’s Mancunian origins. He decided to follow instructions to the T and turned up in his IDF uniform. Formal suits and ties were donned by many, and the gals went to town and capitalized on the chance to dust off their oh-so-English two-piece suits and outrageous Ascotstyle hats.
Jonathan Beller saw the irony in the dress code for the morning’s event.
“In a country where, so often, bridegrooms turn up to the huppa in jeans and a T-shirt, we Brits just pounce on a chance to get dressed up in the way we were brought up to in the Old Country.”
The menu ranged from scones with clotted cream and jam to strawberry cream shortcakes, trifle and cucumber sandwiches – with the crusts cut off – all washed down with sparkling champagne, beer and, of course, a traditional cup of English tea.
Two flat-screen televisions, as well as a huge projector screen, were running throughout the party, held from noon to 3 p.m. Spirits were high as, in the interim between the young couple’s vows and their exit from Westminster Abbey, the 60-strong crowd spilled into the garden for a sing-along of traditional British tunes, like “Jerusalem,” “Auld Lang Syne,” “Land of Hope and Glory” and, of course, the British national anthem.
Predictable oohs and aahs erupted from the ladies as Middleton’s dress came into full view as she entered the abbey. Toasts were made joyously to the happiness of the young couple, William and Kate, and while there were no sheva brachot, a humor-filled speech was made by Ralph Ben-Tal, who never fails to amuse crowds by hitting the nail on the proverbial head.
One of the guests, Rachel Salkin, is an English teacher in the Moledet School in Mevaseret Zion.
“I have to admit that over the last month, I’ve relayed my personal excitement to my pupils, teaching them about English culture and, in particular, the history of the royal family. Yesterday, we drank a non-alcoholic toast of fizzy grape juice to William and Kate in our English class; and the kids erupted in disbelieving laughter when I told them that their homework assignment for this weekend was... to watch TV!”