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Damon Lynch | profile | all galleries >> Rabbi Fruman's daughter's wedding tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Rabbi Fruman's daughter's wedding

Few problems of national scope in Israel and Palestine are as emotional as that of Israeli settlements inside the West Bank. Weddings tend to be emotional also. So when I was offered the opportunity by Jewish peacemaker Eliyahu McLean to attend a Jewish settler wedding deep inside the West Bank it was an easy invitation to accept. Up till this point, settlers were people I had occasionally met at bus stops or at the Western Wall. Apart from settlements on the outskirts of Jerusalem such as Gilo, I had never been into their communities or shared a meal with them.

Of all settlements one could visit, one of the most interesting would have to be where the wedding was being held that night, Tekoa. Few settlements have a religious leader of the calibre of Rabbi Menachem Fruman (also spelled Froman), a deeply spiritual man who tends to shatter many more stereotypes of a settler rabbi than he confirms.

Rabbi Fruman

Stereotypes are the perceptions we have of people other than our own when we do not know them well. Whether based on partial truths or simple falsehoods they never convey the whole reality of another people. When we meet such people in a spirit of tolerance, our stereotypes are often replaced with a greater understanding of who they are and who we are. When we meet someone vastly different to us and our old understanding of them changes so much that it is reversed, a curious and wonderful transformation occurs: a stereotype becomes a type-stereo. Those of you who are old enough to have grown up listening to music in mono format will know what a difference it makes when the same music is played in stereo format. The music gains depth, direction, and most importantly, life. Likewise, when a stereotype becomes a type-stereo our understanding of the world becomes that much richer and real. We begin to know who they are, who we are, and despite our differences what we share in common.

Fruman is a type-stereo Rabbi if ever there has been one. Settlers have a well-deserved reputation for having truly large families. Fruman himself has around ten children. Yet he is also a man who was told by Yasser Arafat “You are my brother!” He is a man who has met with leaders of Hamas and made agreements with them. He is a man who starts a letter to the President of Palestine “In the Name of Allah the Merciful”. Newspapers have reported him saying “When I hitchhike, a bunch of Arabs stop, get out of their cars, and shake my hand and say 'The sage Rabbi Fruman, we know you and we agree with your views.'”

Rabbi Fruman

Fruman has clearly spent a long time reflecting on peace in Israel Palestine. Papers also report him saying “The negotiators forget that there are two primitive nations warring here. Most people [are] primitives; I'm a proud primitive. We need to build a primitive, prophetic peace. A liberal peace won't work here.” He asks “Wouldn't it be a boon to the spirit of Israel to purify the love of the land from control over it?” He proposes that settlers in the West Bank live within a Palestinian state. The majority of both Palestinians and Israelis see settlers as the mechanism through which Israel unilaterally annexes an ever increasing amount of Palestinian land, making a viable Palestinian state an impossibility. Consequently in addition to practically all Palestinians, a notable number of Israelis are against the settlers—including an emerging movement of Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve in the West Bank. But Fruman can envision a day where the entire settlement movement matures and changes its objectives, becoming “the fingers of the hand outstretched to peace, that part of the hand that really touches the other side”.

Marriage

It was one of Fruman's daughters who was being married. Earlier in the year he had brought her and her groom to a Sufi Sheik to be blessed. But this night the seven blessings, or sheva brachos, were from Jews in a traditional ceremony. This took place when couple, family members and distinguished others were gathered under and around the traditional outdoor chuppah (canopy).

Watching

The rest of the attendees encircled it closely, their faces conveying a mix of joy and expectation. Fruman talked a little of his grandfather, a senior religious figure in Poland who was murdered during the holocaust. A traditional cup of wine was shared among the beaming couple.

Watching

The food was served and families began to eat. The more pious among the attendees began to pray in the synagogue. This was the point where the newly married couple went off to a private room, the cheder yichud. In days gone by this occasion signified a marriage's consummation, but these days a couple tends to use it to spend time together.

After the meal the dancing began.

Dancing

The men and women danced separated by a partition. But this did not stop the women from sneaking a look onto the men's side to see what was going on.

Dancing

For much of the time the new husband and wife danced on separate sides, at the center of a swirling mass of bodies going around and around for hours, full of energy and joy. Then the couple came to dance together, on the woman's side and then on the men's side. People were having a truly wonderful time together.

Dancing

Yet here we were, deep inside the West Bank, and not a Palestinian was to be seen. That changed when Ibrahim Ahmad Abu El-Hawa appeared in his traditional Palestinian white dress, complete with kaffiyeh (headdress). A soldier guarding the wedding with an automatic weapon was speechless when he saw Ibrahim enter. Ibrahim asked him “how are you”, but his shock at seeing an Arab was so great he could not even open his mouth. He simply stared and stared, unable to comprehend what he was seeing. Other guests too were shocked by the presence of Ibrahim. But not Fruman. The delight that had been in his eyes all evening surged when he saw his old friend.

Fruman and Ibrahim

The two warriors for peace danced together, and for the first time since the dancing began the center of attention was not the newly married couple but Fruman and Ibrahim. It was tremendously moving to see a Jew and a Palestinian sharing a dance, having fun and making the point that peace is possible.

Dancing

Fruman—who describes himself as a fundamentalist—recently said “To me, 'rule' (shilton) is a masculine value and 'land' (eretz) is a feminine value. And so, for many years, I've felt the most positive movement being made by the Jewish spirit—together with the human spirit—is the movement from masculine values to feminine values.” If only more so-called fundamentalists shared his views. He added “Therefore the movement from the value of 'conquering the land' to the value of 'love of the land' is the movement we must make for the sake of promoting the spirit of the Jewish faith. . . . What interests me in this possibility is the option to use it to connect rootedness with freedom, east with west, love with liberty, left with right—and to make other spiritual connections” (Haaretz Magazine, July 22 2005).

Watching under the chuppah
Watching under the chuppah
Watching under the chuppah
Watching under the chuppah
Rabbi Fruman - Tekoa
Rabbi Fruman - Tekoa
Rabbi Fruman
Rabbi Fruman
Watching
Watching
Muscians
Muscians
Reading
Reading
Intimate moment
Intimate moment
Watching attentively
Watching attentively
Sister
Sister
Brother
Brother
Children
Children
Honoured guest
Honoured guest
Girl
Girl
Rabbi Fruman
Rabbi Fruman
Sharing the cup of wine
Sharing the cup of wine
Happy couple
Happy couple
Bride
Bride
Happy couple
Happy couple
Reading from the Bible
Reading from the Bible
Young family member
Young family member
A young boy watching
A young boy watching
Prayers
Prayers
Meal time
Meal time
Meal time
Meal time
Rabbi Fruman and man
Rabbi Fruman and man
Groom
Groom
Groom - Tekoa
Groom - Tekoa
Family member
Family member
Dancing
Dancing
On top of the crowd
On top of the crowd
Groom
Groom
Dancing
Dancing
Rabbi Fruman
Rabbi Fruman
Watching the men - Tekoa
Watching the men - Tekoa
Dancing
Dancing
Rabbi Fruman
Rabbi Fruman
Rabbi Fruman
Rabbi Fruman
Women dancing
Women dancing
Men holding up the groom
Men holding up the groom
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing - Tekoa
Dancing - Tekoa
Bride dancing - Tekoa
Bride dancing - Tekoa
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Bride dancing
Bride dancing
Bride dancing
Bride dancing
Bride dancing
Bride dancing
Groom
Groom
Bride dancing
Bride dancing
Rabbi Fruman
Rabbi Fruman
Women dancing
Women dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Bride dancing
Bride dancing
Bride dancing
Bride dancing
Bride dancing
Bride dancing
Mother of the bride
Mother of the bride
Dancing
Dancing
Bride dancing
Bride dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Watching
Watching
Dancing
Dancing
Bride dancing
Bride dancing
Watching
Watching
Groom
Groom
On top
On top
Bride embracing
Bride embracing
Bride embracing
Bride embracing
Men dancing
Men dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Eliyahu McLean
Eliyahu McLean
Rabbi Fruman
Rabbi Fruman
Rabbi Fruman
Rabbi Fruman
Rabbi Fruman
Rabbi Fruman
Woman
Woman
Woman
Woman
Watching
Watching
Groom with the Rabbi's hat
Groom with the Rabbi's hat
Watching
Watching
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Dancing
Rabbi Fruman & Ibrahim Ahmad Abu El-Hawa
Rabbi Fruman & Ibrahim Ahmad Abu El-Hawa
Rabbi Fruman and Ibrahim
Rabbi Fruman and Ibrahim
Rabbi Fruman and Ibrahim
Rabbi Fruman and Ibrahim
Rabbi Fruman, Ibrahim and Eliyahu
Rabbi Fruman, Ibrahim and Eliyahu
Ibrahim and Rabbi Fruman
Ibrahim and Rabbi Fruman
Eliyahu, Rabbi Fruman and Ibrahim
Eliyahu, Rabbi Fruman and Ibrahim