A basic reason for coming to volunteer at the Mar Elias Schools at this particular time was to coordinate the date of a wedding in a family here with the graduation of our granddaughter and grandson in Florida.  When we first came to volunteer in November of 2011, we met Salha Edress very close to when we arrived.  We were invited, along with our friend Joan Deming, to go to the home of a high school counselor, Emon, in Akka (Acco, Acre) with Salha, a Hebrew teacher at the high school.  This began a friendship with Salha that has deepened over the several times we have volunteered.  The time we were here for a year, we would go with her to the college where her daughter was studying, north of the Sea of Galilee.  She preferred not to drive that distance alone.  Because of this we became part of her large family and enjoyed spending time with them, at times going to their fields where they grow many fresh vegetable and olives and enjoying a time of olive picking with them.  One of my favorite pictures is of Salha’s mom picking olives with love and care.

Salha's mother

Ruba’s family are Muslim.  Weddings are a multiday event.  Her wedding will start on April 2nd and the final day will be on April 6th.  Much time has been spent preparing for this event including the signing of a contract, part of the Muslim wedding ceremony.  Pictured below, the bride, Ruba, and the groom, Mohamed.

We were picked up and taken to Salha’s home where the contract signing would take place. I was taken into the front room where the men were gathering and Jane was ushered around to the back of the home to a large room where the women were gathering.  The first thing that happens for the men shortly after each new person entering the room sits down a person comes by offering a drink of very strong coffee in a small cup.  You take the cup, swallow all of it and return the cup to the person pouring the coffee — it is strong.  The men sit around talking, sometimes quite animated.

After a short time, I was taken to the back where the women were gathered so I could take some pictures.

Contract signing:  We arrived to the home of Salha Edress, Ruba’s mother, and Jane was taken around to the back of the house where the women were gathered and I was ushered into the front room where the men were gathered.  In both areas the circle kept expanding as more and more people came to join in this happy occasion.  What followed then was the contract signing, Ruba first and then Mohamed.  First an explanation of the contract and then signing, many pages.

Next, the action was back in the room with the men.  First, Ruba’s father signs the contract and then the groom signs the contract along with the payment of 50 NIS (New Israeli Shekels), it’s cheaper to get married than it is to get divorced!!

Finally, after the signing, the bride and groom join together in the  room where the women were gathered.