December 28, 2016

Letting Go

Facing each other and clutching a plate between our hands, we hold our arms out, lift gently, then lower. I take a deep breath. My partner lets go and I hold on firmly, lowering the china plate to the floor.

“You have to let go,” she says gently. “Let’s try again.”

I take another deep breath and we do it again. This time we let go at the same moment and the plate, safely enclosed in a bag, smashes into tiny shards.

“Mazal Tov!”

Brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews break into song, clapping and dancing. 

This small action speaks volumes as I now feel that my daughter is officially engaged. She has grown up, found a partner with whom she has decided to share her life and is leaving her childhood home to start anew.

My hands tightly clutched that plate just as I used to hold my daughter as a baby. And now my hands are empty. I have just let her go.

The two mothers peeked at the shards inside the bag. These tiny fragments can never be put back together and as such, are symbolic of our children’s commitment to leave behind their former lives. This is true finality and an ending of something big.

The smashed plate is also an echo of the glass that will be smashed under the chuppah, a powerful symbol that tells of the destruction of the Temple. Even at our happiest times, we must be reminded of brokenness and suffering.

The two mothers share in this tradition to show that we are now part of a new, combined family. I read a beautiful explanation that says the mothers’ power in breaking the plate is a symbol of the strength of Jewish women in upholding tradition and marriage.

Shutterstock image
This new combined family is also the completion of the bridge we built as olim. My husband and I brought our family to Israel 11 years ago. My now engaged daughter, who was ten years old when she arrived, could not speak Hebrew. The Israeli culture was surprisingly foreign and the customs were different.

The parents of both bride and groom have a shared story; we all arrived as Jews from the diaspora coming to Israel to build new lives.

For me, I originally thought aliyah was a simple process of learning Hebrew but have since realized that the differences run far deeper. Moving here as an older olah, I soon came to understand that we would never really acclimatize.

I then reframed and considered my husband and I to be bridge builders, not fully belonging in either Canada or Israel. We could only offer our children a sturdy bridge, but could do no more. When the time came, our children, who would be brought up here in Israel, would cross over.

And now my daughter has navigated her way and reached the other side. She is marrying a native-born Israeli (born to English speakers) and their language together is Hebrew. They both served in the IDF, listen to Israeli music, sing niggunim and learn Torah together, all in Hebrew. They have shared goals and want to live meaningful non-materialistic lives. 

I look at the two of them in wonder and amazement, never imagining this moment. I have let go of my daughter and she has let go of her Diaspora Jewish self to become part of something miraculous. 

Their path is so far from the other side of the bridge where we originated. Our new chatan and kalla will soon be building another beautiful Jewish home in Israel, leaving behind the bridge that these two plate-clutching mothers built and stood on.

As we lowered our arms and let go of the plate, we made space for the young couple to create their own path together. 

Soon we will sing this beautiful wedding song:

Again it will be heard in the cities of Judea,
And in the streets of Jerusalem,
The Voice of Joy and the Voice of Gladness
The Voice of the Groom and the Voice of the Bride!
Jeremiah 33:10-11

עוֹד יִשָׁמַע 
בְּעַרֵי יְהוּדָה 
וּבְחוּצוֹת יְרוּשָלַיִם 

קוֹל שָשוֹן וְקוֹל שִמְחָה 
קוֹל חָתָן וְקוֹל כָּלָה

Mazal Tov to 
Aviva and Shaarya!


  1. Capturing this milestone event so beautifully ... now and for posterity....

  2. Nicole, that is beautifully touching and inspiring! Ihave tears in my eyes. Aviva is so blessed to have you as her roots and as her bridge. I am sure you will always have many more meaningful metaphores to fill in their lives…
    I can share my experience as a seven year old Olah, who had the zchut, the merit, to grow up here, on this wonderous side of the bridge, married to a totaly born israeli (with very good english) mother of six, (sadly enough with very very poor english…) every day I am so grateful to Hashem that my parents z"l made Aliyah and took that step despite all the difficulties they had. When I think of it or hear of families making Aliyah it seems soooo hard to me!! I don't know if I would be able to do it myself!! So I try to tell whomever I meet thinking about aliyah/or Olim, what an amazing gift they are giving their children, and grandchildren… I completely admire anyone who makes this move.
    Thank you Nicole and Amir for making Aliyah and bringing Shaarya's beloved home to Israel!
    I admire you so much.
    I am so glad we will be joining families. Welcome dear family. As we sang together: 'It's a joy to get to know you, and I really am liking to share in your world…'
    With love and appreciation, Shaarya's big sister, Manya.

  3. Thanks for your touching words, Manya. We look forward to sharing many beautiful smachot together.
    Love Nicole


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