This last Saturday I officiated Pauline and Nate’s Jewish-Filipino interfaith wedding. Here are the personal remarks I shared with them and their guests:
I have lived on three continents. I have lived in New Zealand and in the American Heartland where people are very cordial and tremendously polite, but it is really difficult to figure out what they really think about your actions in any given situation. On the other hand, I grew up in Israel, and Israelis are perceived by most non-Israelis as brash and even aggressive, but you always know where you stand with them. Think New Yorkers on Speed, and you get the idea.
Now, in our multi-cultural environment it seems usually taboo to talk about positives and negatives of cultures. To me there is something disingenuine about such an approach. Should we not admit, without judging individual persons, that every culture has its plusses and minuses? Is not true multi-culturalism about learning from other cultures, which means using some discernment regarding their qualities?
Is it not obvious that if one could, it would be best to exhibit the warmth and cordial nature of the Midwest and American South, along with the openness of our Israeli brothers and sisters? I have often thought about this, and when I met Pauline and Nate, I found exactly these qualities shared by both of them. This made it tremendously refreshing to interact with this lovely couple. They are the most pleasant individuals and at the same time they say what they mean, and mean what they say. How cool is that?! In this I think they are emblematic, once again, of how we should live and learn in this multi-cultural and multi-ethnic world we inhabit.
Now, really, there is nothing new here. Every religion tells us to treat others as we would like to be treated. Each of us wishes to be treated kindly, and also to know where we stand with others, so that we may navigate the world properly and pleasantly. Therefore, what Pauline and Nate do in their day to day life is just an extension of that golden rule.
Pauline and Nate, what do we wish for you? We hope and pray that you continue to enjoy happiness and love through your openness and kindness with each other and with others. We are confident that with this, you will continue to enjoy a wonderful life together, and inspire others to do the same.