Sunday, August 6, 2017

Lewin-Landman Wedding

July 9, 2017 - Brooklyn NY.

On behalf of Shiralee and Geoffrey, and of the Landman and Lewin families, it is my great pleasure to welcome you all here this evening to celebrate the wedding of Shiralee Lewin and Geoffrey Landman.
I am very honored to have been asked by the bridal couple to say a few words to mark this occasion – words that will hopefully serve as a fitting memory for them and for all of us gathered here to celebrate with them.
At a time like this I am going to assume that I am permitted to engage in some personal remarks about Shiralee and Geoffrey and, also, to presume to offer just a few words of advice as they embark on the rest of their lives together.
I have known Shiralee for quite a long time. I don’t have to tell you about the special relationship that exists between fathers and their daughters, between fathers and their princesses. Beverley and are I are blessed with four wonderful children, four precious jewels, three of them princesses. Shiralee tonight you are the princess of the hour. So, ladies and gentlemen, please forgive my bias in the matter. Shiralee is and will always be my princess. 
Shiralee, we waited a long time for you to arrive in this world. You were born eight years after your sister. You occupy a special position in our family, strategically placed between your opinionated older siblings and the baby of the family. And from the day that she was born, it was obvious that Shiralee had special characteristics. She marched to the tune of her own drummer and often in a different direction from those around her. She saw the world through her own creative lens. Her name means loosely “sing to me” or alternatively “my song” and tonight indeed she sings her own special song.
Shiralee has an independent spirit, a curious mind and a desire to experience the world in all its diversity. She was the youngest of our children to go to sleep away camp in the Hill Country of Texas – at the tender age of 11. I know that these days the kids go away from home to camp at an even younger age. But we were not used to this. Beverley and I were devastated, terrified at the prospect of our little girl out there in the world, traveling alone on an airplane, and not knowing anyone at that camp. While the parents around us were rejoicing to be free of their charges for the summer, we were sad and apprehensive. But, as you might expect, she did fine. And a few years later, she became a counselor at that very same camp. This theme was repeated when she left Texas to go to Indiana University. And then, when she subsequently moved by herself to the grand metropolis of New York City, where she ultimately met her prince. She is nothing if not courageous.
Her creativity led Shiralee to study and work in fashion. This would not be so remarkable, were it not for the fact, that her parents—especially her father— are fashion-challenged. So it was destined that Shiralee would become the fashion policeman of the family. To this day, I receive, sometimes unsolicited, advice on my choice of wardrobe. I trust that Geoffrey has now been able to share in this benefit, though incompetence in this area prevents me from judging the matter. Seriously though, I am proud of Shiralee’s talents, talents to be cherished and nurtured as she goes through life. Creativity is a gift that flourishes best when shared with others – encouraging and helping others to express their originality in various ways, thereby creating meaningful connections and experiences. Be alert to the opportunity to creatively connect with others.
Another often overlooked skill is that Shiralee possesses is being extremely well organized, as the planning for this event testifies. She likes things to go according to plan, which is good, most of the time, except when they don’t. As one gets older one learns to live with unexpected outcomes. So, my advice is to take this valuable organizing ability that you have and use it, as you have done in the past, to your best advantage, but don’t let it overwhelm you. I have no doubt that she will use these strengths  to enhance her partnership with Geoffrey and to do more great things in the world.
Shiralee has an abiding love for her family, something we all cherish. Too many young people grow up and grow apart from their roots. Shiralee has always taken care to maintain these most precious bonds. Her nieces and nephews adore her and love spending time with her. Dare a father express the hope that one day in the not so distant future events may conspire to bring her and Geoffrey permanently closer to the mothership of Dallas, Texas.
But what of the Prince?
Of course, I have not known Geoffrey as long as I have known Shiralee. I have, however, spoken to those who have known him since childhood, and will rely on them (in part) in what I have to say. If it is remarkable that Shiralee was born into a family devoid of any fashion sense, it is perhaps even more remarkable that Geoffrey was born into a family without exceptional musical talent. Geoffrey’s father Phil reports that he has no particular talent in that regard, and while Sue and David do have some talent, it is not to the same extent as Geoff. From a very young age, Geoff showed an exceptional interest and talent in music, especially classical music, and this interest and insight has shaped his life.
Though the family moved around a bit, wherever they went Geoffrey took his dedication to music with him. And, as we all know, through dedication he has developed his passion into a formidable craft, a surpassing ability to play his chosen instrument, the classical Saxophone, as only a handful of people in the world are able to do – a talent that has taken him to many places in the world, including a notable appearance at Carnegie Hall.
Music touches the soul; it is a universal language – though spoken with different accents. A language is pretty useless if you speak only to yourself. At some level everyone appreciates music, so those who are privileged and sensitive enough to pick up its beauty, can use it to forge bonds with those around them. I know you will use this gift to do so.
Besides his music, Geoff enjoys fishing, which makes sense – it is after all a relaxing and contemplative pastime. And, of course, he has his bike. Evidently, if Geoffrey decides to do something, he will do it to perfection, certainly to the best of his ability. So, when he is not selling bikes, or ski equipment, or teaching or practicisin music, he is either walking the dogs or riding his bike, frequently in some race beyond the capacity of most mortals to endure. Biking is wonderful exercise and is something which can be done with others for most of your life, so you can take this too with you on your life’s journey.
Pursuing such a special vocation as your music no doubt entails sacrifices and hard work, and I am sure it can sometimes be lonely. Although what I do in my work is very different, I can relate to the experience of choosing something out of the ordinary as a career. Perhaps you get, as I do, raised eyebrows and expressions of incredulity. One is continually defying people’s expectations. But you are fortunate to have parents who recognized your talents and nurtured your passion allowing  you to follow your dreams however impractical they may have seemed to others. That is a priceless gift from them to you, one that enabled you to become the accomplished practitioner you are today. I know you cherish this and will carry that appreciation through your life. We don’t get to choose our parents – some of us just get lucky.
Geoffrey we welcome you and your family to our family and hope to celebrate many more happy events together.
Shiralee and Geoffrey when two people from different backgrounds—who set out along their own individual journey—find each other and decide to build a home and a life together, they bring with them all their talents, experiences, and special, unique zest for life. The union is more than the sum of its parts. I know that I am speaking for Beverley, Sue and Phil, and for everyone here today, when I say that we rejoice in your union, we love you and wish you many happy and productive years together. May your marriage be a blessing for you and for all who know you.
At times like this we remember loved-ones who could not be with us. I know that you both have fond memories of your grandparents during your formative years who have given you something of value to remember them by. If I were asked to give you one message to take with you from this day I would look to my late father, a gentle man and a gentleman, whom, as Shiralee knows I am fond of quoting. When dealing with people do not rush to judgement, always give them the benefit of the doubt, be sensitive to their beliefs and tolerant of their differences, treat them as you would like to be treated, show patience and moderation. That is how he lived his life and how I recommend you aspire to live yours.
The institution of marriage is as old as civilization itself. Though celebrated in different ways in different traditions, it is always based on an initial contract in which the future husband and wife pledge themselves to each other in the presence of witnesses.
In this spirit Geoffrey and Shiralee entered into the following agreement that I will now read:
On this 9th day of July, 2017, before family and friends, Shiralee Rebecca Lewin, daughter of Beverley and Peter Lewin, and Geofrey Loryn Landman, son of Sue and Phil Landman, entered into this marriage commitment.
Pledging  our love for each other, we comit to a life together based on mutual respect and understanding. As husband and wife we are a team, each complementing the other. We pledge to remain faithful and loyal and to support and sustain each other through life’s challenges, to always consider the feelings and views of the other in all that we may do. This we affirm in front of our friends and family on this special day.

 There is well known Hebrew blessing that I give to my children and grandchildren every Friday night that I am with them, and it is also often given on important occasions like this and I would like to read it to you as an expression of my wish for you to always be safe, happy and above all at peace in your lives together.
יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ
יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם
May God bless you and keep you safe
May God shine his light on you and be gracious to you
May God lift His face toward you and bestow upon you (the most precious of all blessings, the blessing of) peace.

Having fulfilled the laws of the land and affirmed their commitment to each other in the presence of those who love them, Geoffrey and Shiralee now invite you to join them for dinner.