My daughter unexpectedly rang me last from Jerusalem last night.
Mazeltov, she said.
Oh, I said, on what?
Your daughter just got engaged, she said……
I've known for a few months that their engagement was on the cards, and likely to be announced very soon. But they hadn't decided the exact date between them, so I was still taken by surprise last night.
Even knowing she was going to be engaged was really very different from hearing it's actually happened. They sounded so very happy when I spoke to them. I know it sounds totally Mills and Boon, but the best I can do to describe that is to say that their voices were tremulous with happiness....
Before I knew B, I always thought I would probably never think any young man good enough for my daughter. The funny thing was that from the moment I met him, I really, really liked him. He's modest and humorous, very bright, and has always shown so much thoughtfulness and care for my daughter.
They're exactly the same age, 20. Almost to the day. OK, she's a day older. She was born on 1st January 1986 and he was born on 2nd January 1986. I'd never have thought of her marrying so young. But they met just after they turned seventeen. It was a sort of eyes-across-a-crowded-room-thing. He'd come as part of a youth group that was losing their funding to seek the support of a group that she was attending. He's a debating champ, and he made a speech which seems to have gone over the heads of most of those present. But she got what he was saying, and laughed at all his jokes. They stayed talking to each other, and stayed more or less inattentive to everyone else, for the rest of the evening. The next day, his best friend told her afterwards, he was like a man transformed.
We heard last week that she's got a place on a Fine Art degree course at the Cambridge School of Art. He's going to be reading history at Cambridge University. So they'll be able to go on studying together for the next three years.
And the wedding will be in London, at the end of their first year there, in the summer of 2007.
Meanwhile, apart from being happy, I'm trying to get my head round all sorts of things that still sound unreal. Like getting used to saying my daughter's fiance, my future son in law, my mechutonim.
I love that Jewish religious tradition and culture actually rejects what's implied by the terminology of in-laws. Because in Hebrew and Yiddish, you call the parents of your child's spouse your mechutonim. That means the married-to ones. There are no mother-in-law jokes in traditional Jewish humour. The nearest equivalent jokes are about the relationship of rivalry and sometimes hostility between the two mothers-- mechutonista jokes. That's even alluded to at traditional Jewish weddings, where there is a broiges tanz, a mock feuding dance, between the two mothers where they dance with a chollah, the bread which is blessed on the meals of Shabbos and special occasions. It ends with a reconciliation coda in which the two families dance in threading lines together, to demonstrate the interlinking of the two families.
Oh, and the other thing I'm still getting my head round is that it's my role to organise and make the wedding... Whoaaa...
I'll be doing a flying visit to Jerusalem for Shavuos, where they're going to have a modest celebration on the Motzei Shabbos. So if you know me personally, and you'd like to be there, just let me know....