Tool For Tuesday: Even in the Midst of War, Celebrate Life. Photos of a Henna Ceremony in Israel

Even in the midst of war, celebrate life.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Especially in the midst of war.

A lot of Islamic terrorists boast that they will win against the West because they celebrate death and we celebrate life. As if that’s something to be proud of.

Glorifying death is not the point of living. Let’s celebrate life. No matter where you are and how bad things are. Life is so short and death is forever. So in the midst of all the terrible tragedies, life goes on. It has to. It must.

Only a few days after the Hamas-Israel War ended, we attended a henna ceremony for our friends’ daughter who’s about to get married. Which is why I’m dressed like that in the photo above.

Lee & Ofri at the start of their Henna Ceremony. They don't usually dress like this.

Lee & Ofri at the start of their Henna Ceremony. They don’t usually dress like this.

Henna ceremonies are still popular among Jews from Morocco and Yemen, as well as in communities in India and many other Arab communities. The ceremony, where henna is applied in beautiful designs on the hands and gifts are exchanged, has its origins in the Bible.

Often henna was applied to the skin to celebrate different rites of passage. (I got information on this from Henna by Sienna.)

The groom’s family is from Morocco

The groom's father and uncles

The groom’s father and uncles

and even though the bride’s family is originally from Eastern Europe, everyone joined in to celebrate.

The ceremony was held a week before the wedding. Close friends and family came to the bridegroom’s house. There was Moroccan food and desserts.

Jonnyand I weren’t going to put on these

traditional Moroccan clothes but then we said, we gotta do it. We can’t sit on the sidelines of life. So there you have it.

This is what Jonny and I would have looked like if we weren't born in New York or New Jersey. But, alas, we were. Notice how I've got instant full body. Why is that? It looks like I have half the buffet table under my gown.

This is what Jonny and I would have looked like if we weren’t born in New York or New Jersey. But, alas, we were. Notice how I’ve got instant full body. Why is that? It looks like I have half the buffet table under my gown.

Meanwhile, we still have to celebrate. No matter what our situation is, we can find one thing to listen to, see, smell or touch to make it better. We can find someone who’s hurting and try to lift their spirits. We can do a small act of kindness anonymously.

No matter what. Despite everything. Or, because of everything.

At the ceremony, everyone got dressed in Moroccan clothes. The women lit candles and carried trays of sweets.

The bride's mother

The bride’s mother

The crowd carried the bride and groom in a special chair.

The bride.

The bride.

And then the two families exchanged gifts and sweets.

Why is this a Tool for Tuesday? Because it proves that life is what we make it. I’m still working for peace and praying that there won’t be any more wars and hoping against hope that dialogue in the Middle East is still possible.

Gotta keep choosing life.

Exchanging sweets and gifts.

Exchanging sweets and gifts.

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About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is a writer living in northern Israel whose novel, A Remarkable Kindness, is forthcoming from HarperCollins in August. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, and other publications. Her first book, The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker) was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award.
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6 Responses to Tool For Tuesday: Even in the Midst of War, Celebrate Life. Photos of a Henna Ceremony in Israel

  1. juliabarrett says:

    Such a lovely traditional unusual ceremony. Love this post. Thanks, Diana.

  2. Rhonda Blender says:

    Really nice message which I personally valued reading after yesterday’s news.

  3. To LIfe, Diana!
    Wonderful post, and I love the pictures. We attended the wedding of a friend’s daughter in the mountains several weeks ago, and although it was not a Jewish ceremony, the bride, groom, their parents and two attendants had striking henna patterns on their hands and arms. It was a lovely and moving ceremony.

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