When I got married in Eretz Yisrael in the 1960s, it was a different world from ours in so many ways, yet very much the same in others. We had a “balabatishe” wedding in a popular wedding venue, and all of our family members were dressed festively and in style.
My grandchildren marvel at how sophisticated my mother and mother-in-law look in our black-and-white wedding videos, clad in our finery and furs, a mere 22 years after surviving the war and arriving in Eretz Yisrael as penniless immigrants. Wearing the dramatic hats worn by all self-respecting women in those days, they were very elegant. My parents owned a textile store, and on a trip to purchase fabric in Tel Aviv my father spotted the most exquisite material that was perfect for a bridal gown. So unlike my sisters’ gowns, mine was sewn by a private dressmaker. It was truly magnificent, and while I can’t recall exactly what we did it with it afterward, I think it might have been rented out or sold, as many people had inquired about my exclusive gown. That being said, the conventions were so much simpler in those days and the gift-giving was on a much more modest scale. I received a diamond ring set with a minute stone, as the jewelry in those days was a far cry from today’s standards.
Fast-forward 20 years, and my chasan and I were ready to walk our own grown son to the chuppah. We had moved to America years before, and our son was marrying a local girl, with our parents flying in for the wedding. To mark the occasion, my husband gifted me with a new diamond ring, the size of the stone significantly upgraded from the original. At the time he had some business investments in the diamond industry, and he purchased the diamond at a wholesale price from the firm of an acquaintance. I was overjoyed by the beautiful present and danced happily at my bechor’s wedding, a momentous milestone indeed.