Amna and Muhamed got married after a long period of courtship. They were engaged for more than 5 years and finally got married in June of this year. They are both from the village of Jisr az Zarka which is located in one of the most beautiful spots in Israel along the Mediterranean coast . I was so happy when I was invited to  the wedding and got the permission to photograph this three days event.  In fact, I missed the fourth night which was in principle a” bachelorette” party. Too bad, I will have to find an opportunity to participate in one of those one day.  There is no better opportunity to learn about the customs and traditions of various communities than take part in one of the major events in its members lives such as engagements and weddings, birth and even death.  Luckily for me, the first such occasion was the wedding which just spectacular.  I was overwhelmed by the community’s participation in the preparation for the wedding, the help in cooking, a neighbor offering his yard for the Henna event and more.

Many of Jisr’s families are poor.Weddings take a big financial toll on parents who so often have many children (8-10).  It is customary that the bride’s parents pay for the Henna night, while the groom’s parents pay for the wedding which will happen in the third night.  The bride’s family will provide the couple with either an apartment or a home, a bed for the couple and kitchen cabinets – these items are called shur-ah.  All the rest, is the responsibility of the groom’s family.

The Henna party was celebrated at the bride’s house where all the relatives work to met the guests’ needs. Weeks before, the women started to prepare many different kinds of desserts: baklava and other sweet treats. The dinner  included the traditional  couscous with vegetables and meat. The men prepared fish and lambs to eat in the celebration, and shourba which is tomato sauce and meat, chicken and salads were also served. The latitude of choice and multitude of food are testimony to the parents’ generosity; otherwise people would consider them stingy.

The brides’s mother and friends prepared the henna and dished it into small cups to be given in the party for each woman to rub on her hands. Once the party  began it was the most colorful and vivacious one can imagine.  The dance music was so loud that I wished I had brought ear plugs (I did the following nights ) and  felt I was in a Bollywood screen set. Most women were dressed in traditional yet sparkling and elegant outfits.  The place was rocking!!!

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