Language: “the system of communication used by a particular community or country.” This wasn’t something that I shared with most of the guests at Ariela and Lazar’s wedding. It made me nervous, in the days leading up to it, about my ability to convey a story in which I did not understand the words. What I learned was that the words were not the important part. We spoke many of the same languages that night, in dance, and food, and laughter - the universality of the language of celebration.
I joined Lazar’s family with Ariela on an evening in December for their Chuppah ceremony. We gathered into the living space of their family’s apartment, along with Lazar’s rabbi and a few members of his family. The two of them signed their ketubah, and a week later we joined again in Rego Park, Queens for their reception.
It was beautiful. It was one of the most colorful rooms I’ve ever been in. Ariela had told me to be prepared for an “interesting” reception – and that was an understatement. There were 8 courses in the meal, with several minutes of dancing between each course. “We dance so we can eat more,” she told me as she pulled me onto the dance floor. The reception was so rich with Bukharian tradition; I never wanted it to end. It was an honor to witness and to be a part of it all. I hope that these images make you feel like you were there. I hope you can smell the food, and taste the wine, and hear the music, and I hope that these images can serve as their own language for many years to come.