Celebrating Life…..and Love

Posted on September 15th, 2011

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When we first got the invitation about a month ago, we didn’t know if we would be able to go. It was the wedding of a daughter of close friends and an event that we would never, ever have missed back in the BC (before cancer) days.

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But of course, the life where we were in total control (or thought we were) has changed. “We’ll try” is the best RSVP we can give right now and then see how Stella is feeling on the day of an event.

But we really wanted to go to the wedding. And we put it on the calendar, knowing that it would be during a “good” week so chances were high that we would be able to attend. Still, the plan was to go for the wedding ceremony itself, maybe the first dance, and then get home early so we could at least say we were there and wished the Bride and Groom a hearty “Mazel Tov.”

We stayed until the band stopped playing.

We stayed until they cleaned up the desserts.

We stayed until we were so tired it was hard to drive home.

Watching the wedding ceremony made me think back 20 years ago to when we were first married. I guess we were too young to really know anything about life — except that we wanted to live it together. Now to watch two young people begin this amazing journey while sitting next to my bride of two decades was very special.

At Jewish weddings the men and women dance separately with a barrier set up through the dance floor. The women dance in some type of organized form (at least that’s what I’m told.) For the men, “dancing” means lots of running in circles, jumping up and down, and knocking into your friends. All to loud music. It’s a bit like Australian Rules Football without the ball.

A single dance can go on for over an hour. Bit by bit, those who are not either close family members, soldiers, drunk, or marathon runners fade to the sidelines to watch the mayhem while the rest continue running, jumping, and bouncing until everyone sweats through their nice pressed shirts and formerly clean jackets (would it really be wrong to wear my running gear to a wedding?)

But the main element of a Jewish wedding dance is the emotion. The joy you feel for the couple comes right from the heart. It is the highest high you can feel. It is such a strong, overwhelming feeling that you can actually feel like crying.

Now I consider myself somewhat of an expert in crying these days. I have become very familiar with the times when you feel like you will drown yourself because no matter how many tissues you keep in your car, shtender, or pocket, you never have enough. When the terrible feelings of despair that you keep safely locked away in your chest make a break out and temporarily take over your mind and body, you become a dripping mess.

But tears at a wedding are the opposite. They come from feelings of love, not fear, and you don’t mind at all when they stage a take over.

At one time, I peeked through the mechitza to watch Stella dancing. And the sight of the big smile on her face did more for me than anything else could ever do. How absolutely lucky we were that we could be present that night and at least for a few hours, forget our troubles and just rejoice with the happy couple and their family. To be in a huge room full of love, and joy, and happiness — as they say in the commercial…. priceless.

In a few days we will have yet another chemo treatment. And we will have a miserable week, we already know that. And there will be more after that, with scans and blood tests, and other forms of treatment that don’t always feel so nice. I know that in the car or at shul or wherever, my fear will visit again and try to overwhelm me.

But being part of things like our friend’s wedding are truly what life is all about. And we will continue to put things on our calender and hope that there will be many, many more occasions where we can go and cry tears of joy… together.

As always, thanks for listening.

A few years ago, when I started writing CrossingtheYarden, some times I would add a final line to special articles. The line was a response to all those who feel that Jews have no right to live in places like Neve Daniel. The line was:

This is our land, and we’re not going anywhere. Get used to it.

So I will finish this one with a hope, a prayer, and a threat aimed directly at all the evil cancer cells that think they will win.

This is our lives, and we’re not going anywhere. Get used to it.


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  1. Of course, I cried my way through this article. Just like I cried from the wellspring of emotion I felt when watching Stella dance at our simcha. And I will add to what you said by turning some of your words around: Having wonderful friends to share our simcha with are what life is all about. Thank you for being a part of that life.
    the mother-of-the-bride

  2. Sue Sussman says:

    Great article. I’m so glad you both got to go to the wedding and have a wonderful time with your friends. I’m sure they loved having you and Stella there to help celebrate. Looking forward to seeing you and Stella in October.

  3. rutimizrachi says:

    “And we will continue to put things on our calender and hope that there will be many, many more occasions where we can go and cry tears of joy… together.” AMEN! Much, much love to the whole family, from our family. <3

  4. minka says:

    may both yarden and stella have many years of attending simchot together to laugh, cry, dance and be the last to leave!

  5. Adam Bashein says:

    May Stella merit to enjoy many simchas. We never know what the future holds. We should turn what are ‘ordinary events and days’ into holy and special days. Every day with our loved ones is a gift from H-shem.

  6. Tova Rubenstein says:

    Beautiful as usual, as is the picture of the two of you at the wedding.
    May we all be blessed with a new year of far less moments of overwhelming despair and far more tears of pure love and joy.
    Shabbat Shalom

  7. Iris says:

    You guys look beautful!!! Wonderful article. Keep dancing.

  8. Yehuda Miller says:

    Yarden you made me cry…at work. Thank you so much for your writing. I miss you guys so much and can’t wait to see your entire family next year when we come to visit.

  9. libby anfinsen says:

    Dear Stella and Jordan…….wonderful hearing from you with an update……sounds promising….as you continue to go on and upward while
    dancing and floating on your cloud of emunah…every day is a gift and I’m so
    glad you make the time to see the forest through the trees. May I be one of the first to bless you with a new year of good health and good times..Libby Anfinsen

  10. Rev. Rock says:

    You two look terrific in the picture and we pray that you both will attend many weddings and happy events in the years to come. As always we send our prayers and love.

    Rev. Rock………

  11. Carla Friedman says:

    How wonderful and exciting for everyone that you both were at this simcha. Days like this are the ones we keep in our hearts and take out and reflect on when times are tough. I can just picture you dancing the night away. Your words made me feel I was there especially the whirling and crazy dancing. It is so wonderful. Enjoy. We all rejoice with you.

  12. Paul Goldstein says:

    I think what Minka said is exactly what I want to say, that you should have many years of simchas together laughing and crying.

  13. Steven Wolinsky says:

    Thank G-d, Stella does not look like a “cancer patient” at all in that beautiful photo. That, “bli ayin hara”, is a real compliment.
    May you both continue to be strong to 120 years. Meanwhile, keep on dancing (and running, biking, swimming etc.) at every opportunity.

  14. Lisa says:

    Yarden, you failed to mention that not only did you guys stay til the band stopped playing, but I think you outlasted every single couple at the table…Believe me, I felt like such a loser saying goodnight to you guys b/c we were too tired to stay for dessert!

  15. Karen says:

    As someone who deals with a chronic, fluctuating condition, I can tell you that having important smachot makes it more likely that you’ll feel OK that day. You always have to give a tentative reply, but don’t worry — a lot of the things you’ll miss are things that you were coming to out of obligation.

  16. […] blog posts – well, now four counting mine. (See the posts at Fashion Isha, Ki Yachol Nuchal and Crossing the Yarden) What made it so special? We actually have tried figuring that out. Sure the band was amazing, […]

  17. Valerie Corbett says:

    Yarden, you have allowed complete strangers to love your Stella, like me. I pray for her, I remember her when I am doing very mundane jobs, in the shower, in the garden, yes you have given us a task to uphold you both and your family… You see I kind of know how you feel.. Three months was the length of time they gave my husband… he would have slipped under the net, because he was a very active sportsman. That was three years ago and he is very well and his heart functions better than most peoples.. People prayed, medical people performed their expertise and the Almighty showered his love upon us… Together we will do our little bit to love your Stella to full health… Never feel you are alone in this battle, because you are most certainly not.

  18. A says:

    Chazak, Coach. Great to hear that there are times of happiness and joy among the depressing days. All I can say is chazak chazak vititchazake. All good wishes to you and Stella.

  19. Sharon Baratt says:

    So happy for both of you that you were able to enjoy the simcha!!!

  20. Dennis Berman says:

    This article is particularly inspiring! May H-shem grant you both many, many years of rejoicing at simchas.

  21. Moishe Lewack says:


    As Billy Crystal mimicking Fernando Lamas often quipped -You look mahvelous!

    It’s beautiful and inspiring experiences and recollections like these that puts things into proper perspective.

    May H-shem continue to bring light into your lives. Pam and I miss you guys.

    Good Shabbos!
    Moishe in Frederick,MD

  22. Ruth says:

    Thank you for keeping us posted with both the ups and downs. Stella is in my thoughts and prayers daily. I think we should all get tee-shirts saying TEAM STELLA. It’s good to hear how our team is doing! Hope to stop by on Monday.

  23. myriam shire says:

    סטלה וירדן היקרים

    טוב לשמוע מכם,וכל כך משמח שהיה לכם ערב משמח ומרומם שתזכו להמון הזדמנויות של שמחה וכיף.
    באהבה מש’ שייר

  24. Greg says:

    Glad you can still keep up with Stella after all these years….