Someone Else's Simcha Eyal and Tatjana's Intergalactic Wedding

In a new series, Haaretz digs deep into the beating heart of relationships within Israeli nuclear families.

Ron Ben-Tovim
Ron Ben-Tovim
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Ron Ben-Tovim
Ron Ben-Tovim

Location: Lauren's Gallery, Old Jaffa

Time: 7 P.M.

Weather: Mild late-spring evening, light breeze, a cloudless sky discernable from the narrow alleyways.

The neighborhood: Winding cobbled streets, lined with ancient-looking stone structures housing ultra-hip designer shops and high-end restaurants. Brides and grooms from the six reception halls scattered throughout the area perambulate up and down the street, photographers in tow.

Venue: Floor 1: Dimly lit Ottoman structure ("400 years old"), sweeping masonry arches holding wrought-iron chandeliers with floral light-fixtures. Large potted plants pepper a downstairs area mainly reserved for about a dozens round tables and a bar. Rooftop: Wooden-deck flooring with scattered seated and low rattan couches, giving a beautiful late-afternoon view of Jaffa ruins and Tel-Aviv high-rises; a yellow construction crane hovering over a minaret in the distance.

Underfoot: Antique orange, red, and black painted tiles, with ornate floral patterns.

Simcha: Eyal Edelmann and Tatjana ("Tat") Nechyporenko's wedding

Home: Tatjana and Eyal live in Berlin and have been together for three years. Tatjana (25, psychology graduate student), grew up in a secular home that was equal parts Communist and Christian in the Ukraine, moving with her family to Germany at the age of 13; speaks impeccable Hebrew ("Eyal has been correcting me for years"). Eyal (31, musician, member of the "Voca People" A-cappella group), born in Hashomer Hatzair's Kibbutz Afikim in the Jordan Valley, moved to Kfar Sava with his family when still a toddler. Eyal's original surname is actually Cohen ("Bummed me out my whole life. Changed it to Edelmann. It means 'noble man' in German"). A future in Israel? "Eyal: "Not right now. Situation here is just too difficult economically."

A brief history of time: Love story begins when Tatjana came with a group of young Germans to volunteer in a retirement home in Israel. A friend introduced the two, but sparks failed to fly. Two years later, Tatjana sent Eyal an email after watching a YouTube video of him playing the tuba: sparks, naturally, fly.

Number of guests: Around 120 – Tatjana: "It was important for us to invite only the people we really really wanted to come." Eyal: "Wanted to give proper attention and time to every person. I told Tat that usually, at Israeli weddings, 100 people are just the waiting staff."

Fact #1: This is actually one in a series of simchas, being in fact the couple's third wedding. First time around: Civilian ceremony on the Danish island of Aero ("A-e-r-o. Pronunciation is weird"). Second time around: A reception in Koln, Germany attended mostly by Tatjana's family and friends (Eyal: "I also have a lot of friends in Berlin"). Ceremonials conducted in English and Russian ("I do" and "da") by a mutual friend whose studying to be a Protestant minister. Majority of those present at the Israeli installment are Eyal's family and friends, since Tatjana's were present at wedding #2.

Family history: First wedding of his generation in Eyal's family (Grandma Hava says: "First time is always very special," making sure to send a sympathetic smile to Eyal's older brother, Gilad). Tatiana's older brother was married in Germany almost two years ago, hosting 30 close friends and immediate family in Koln ("Germany's so big, you try not to make people go out of their way").

Music: Bossa-nova versions of "Hotel California," "Don't Speak," and "Fever," along with Jazz standard. Dance floor fills up in earnest after Eyal's pals get the crowd going with a live musical performance. Thus spake Eyal: "No rap music, and no Mizrahi music," adding: "Unless someone insists."

Rites: Couple marches into center stage as the entrance music from the couple's German wedding sounds in the background. Tatjana accompanied by Eyal's dad. Civil ceremony ensues, consisting of the couple exchanging self-written vows. Eyal's sister Maayan, sporting a tight-fitting, glittery dress, conducts the ceremony ("Welcome to one of Eyal and Tatjana's weddings"), first asking the young couple to recite their vows. Tatjana brings down the house: "Regardless of the gifts I have received, my joy and happiness are only complete with you" (Maayan dares Eyal: "See you top that"). Eyal retorts: "Even though we have been officially married for a few months, I feel this is the first day of the rest of our lives." Next, the emotional couple and guests watch an overhead screening of the German ceremony. Screening ends. Maayan orders the couple to kiss, which they do, to the delight of the crowd, and Siman Tov u Mazal Tov is blasted from the speakers. Guests trickle up to congratulate the not-so-newly weds.

Food: Appetizers (a trip around the world): Vegetarian fried cigars in miso sauce; mini-kebabs with tahini; Thai chicken skewers; Mains: Miso salmon with steamed cabbage; roast beef with roasted vegetables; teriyaki spring chicken with steamed vegetables and rice. Eyal: "I don’t like the 'classic' Israeli wedding, the chicken and burekas thing."

Drink: In heavy rotation: Slender champagne glasses filled with bubbling Cava and a single cherry; red wine; diet coke; lemonade; water.

Fact #2: The young couple leave straight for the airport ("I have a Voca People gig in Malta"), making for a sudden, yet all-too brief honeymoon ahead of the show (Tatjana: "Only two days!")

Word in the ear: Eyal's maternal grandmother Hava (81), born in Budapest, Hungary: "I have never seen a love so profound and discernible, they are wonderful for each other." Proportions: "With everything that has happened to me during and after [World War II], my father's death, losing touch with relatives in Budapest, family means so much to me. It means so much to have a loving, close family."

In my spiritual doggy bag: Eyal and Tatjana's sense of humor and uncanny ability to just be themselves, without much regard for what anyone else thinks.

Random quote: Perplexed Brazilian tourists, faced with multiple wedding receptions on the same street: "Why are all of you getting married today!?"

Want to take part in Someone Else's Simcha? Want to invite Haaretz to your family celebration? Send word to:

Eyal and Tatjana get married.Credit: Gili Cohen Magen
Tatjana and Eyal: A picture before the nuptials.Credit: Gili Magen Cohen
Tatjana and Eyal: The kiss.Credit: Gili Magen Cohen



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