June 29, 2010
June 18, 2010
The Ner Tamid in our synagogue was installed in 2000 when the synagogue was rededicated. For me, at least, it was not what I had hoped for, despite being from the 17th century and with its original silver chains. I had hoped that it would have been possible to incorporate in it the iron Magen David that I found in 1957 still attached to one panel of the wrought iron gate of the destroyed Jewish cemetery of Hania in Nea Hora. This panel was being used as a support for a chicken coop. I was able to obtain it with no difficulty and it’s peregrinations began as it accompanied me to Israel (via Athens, London, Marseilles, Haifa) and not long after I began to build the collections of the Jewish Museum of Greece it took up, for me at least, a temporary residence. Alas when I left the Museum in 1993 I did not take it with me which I have regretted as it rightfully belongs here in Hania. Not long after the second arson attack this year a decision was made to a copper lining in the Ehal. Sam (our only Cohen!) had already been working on making the grills that have been installed on the upper part of the walls and after hope for getting the Magen David from Athens came to nothing we decided to use the design that I had made in 1996 (in anticipation of the renovation of the Synagogue) and to complete the Ner Tamid. The lining for the Ehal has now been installed and the original Venetian glass Ner Tamid has been suspended within a very finely made bronze Magen David with six amber pendants.
In early June we had a festive wedding in the Synagogue. Since last year plans had been afoot for this event and though there were some initial halachic and even canonical problems we broached these with no difficulty. The couple, Mathieu and Alexandra Touboul of Paris and we avoided the question of a proper Jewish wedding (with ketubah etc.) by concentrating on the Seven Blessings. The couple had been married according to French law and so what we envisaged doing was some ritual that would indicate the Abrahamic tradition. Mathieu and Alexandra arrived with a bevy of 49 friends from Paris – all members of the Algerian Jewish community. As Alexandra’s family was originally from Rethymnon her grandmother and several relatives were also in attendance and they all assembled on the Friday evening for Erev Shabbat services - all of them dressed in very chic white outfits. With many of her girlfriends the bride performed a mikveh in the sea at Nea Hora reciting the traditional Hebrew prayer. On the Sunday afternoon our synagogue was packed with even more chic looking Parisians in fine suits and frocks and the bride arrived with her father, Mr N. Flouris, dressed in a fine wedding gown and veiled….quite appropriately late. In front of the ceremonial huppa four friends held up a talleth that symbolizes the tent of Abraham and we brought back an ancient Cretan Jewish custom of having the bride and groom wear floral crowns bound together by a single ribbon. Seven close friends stood in a circle around the bride and groom and formally recited the Seven Blessings (in Hebrew) and these were repeated by everyone in the synagogue – one by one. After the traditional breaking of the glass by the groom everyone assembled in the courtyard to have pre-cocktail drinks. The wedding dinner was held at the Panorama Hotel where they were all staying and much after midnight its swimming pool was filled with our wedding party – save for the children.