Flashback of Hybrid Ashkenazi/Sephardic Military Wedding
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Flashback of Hybrid Ashkenazi/Sephardic Military Wedding

Find out why a hit on the tush after the chuppah ceremony made it all so real.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

The exiting saber arch leaving the chuppah.
The exiting saber arch leaving the chuppah.

Nine years ago in March, swords flashed, and Elisa Iteld was carried into the room on a palanquin on the shoulders of three men to say, “I do,” to Maj. Gavin Ellman, whom she met “the new old-fashioned way” on JDate.

In three diverse traditions, the wedding was emotional as well as a spectacle to behold. Around 300 people attended to witness Rabbi Adam Starr make it all blend in.

The chuppah was constructed from Elisa’s late father’s tallit.

Iteld said,” It was important to us to ring each of our traditions into our wedding, since we would be incorporating them into our new life together.”

Rabbi Starr reminded the couple to stop at points in the evening, look around, take it all in and remember the joy and love felt in that moment… and to make sure there was food in the yichud room.”

Iteld was born and raised in Atlanta, and is a graduate of The Epstein School (1993) and Yeshiva Atlanta/Atlanta Jewish Academy (2002). Parents were Simone and Julius Iteld zl’b. Iteld attended Boston University and graduated with a bachelor’s in communications, moved to New York City and worked for the national office of the Jewish National Fund. She moved back to Atlanta in 2010 to work in the family’s property management real estate investment firm.

Iteld with her late mother and mother-in-law at the Bedeken ceremony.

Ellman was born in Norwalk, Conn., and raised in New Jersey, Atlanta, and San Diego. He joined the Army in 2005 after graduating from the University of Chicago. Stationed in Kentucky, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, Alaska, and New York with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he moved to Fort Benning, then met Iteld. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, and now works in corporate strategy at Cox Automotive, while still serving in the National Guard for one weekend a month.

For the Moroccan flank, the wedding weekend started with a traditional Henna Ceremony with traditional Moroccan food – beef and chicken tangines, couscous, vegetables, and Moroccan desserts. A Moroccan band was clad in traditional Moroccan Henna outfits that had been sent from Montreal.

Iteld was carried into the room on a palanquin on the shoulders of a few strong men. Her best friends and female cousins carried baskets of gifts wrapped by her mom.

Cutting the cake Army style with a saber

Ellman was dressed in Blue Mess Uniform, complete with an officer’s saber. Before walking up the stairs to the chuppah, he handed it off to his brother. Prior to breaking the glass, Rabbi Starr instructed everyone that they could shout “mazal tov,” but then had to be silent for the military saber arch.

After breaking the glass, six of Ellman’s Army officer friends marched to the chuppah, raising sabers in an arch, which the couple walked through. In military tradition, the last soldier took his saber and hit Iteld on the “tush,” and said, “Welcome to the Army!” Ellman then dipped Iteld and gave her a kiss, and the band played music.

On the Ashkenazi flank, the wedding ended with the custom of Mezinkah where the last child of the house gets swept out – Iteld is an only child and her mom had the decorated broom for this custom. They also followed traditional Ashkenazi customs of a public bedeken and all the brachot under the chuppah.

Ellman and Rabbi Adam Starr at the tisch

For the party room, 200 Peachtree was a wonderland. Iteld wore a traditional gown, with her great-grandmother’s earrings with a handkerchief and a dad’s cufflink around her bouquet. Ellman wore his Army blue Mess Uniform.

Flowers by Yona used accented white and light pink flowers for understated elegance. A Kosher Touch had a schmorg between the chuppah and reception with Moroccan and Indian stations (Ellman’s favorite). Dinner was choice of beef, chicken or fish. Next was dessert by Ali’s Cookies with cake pops and a croquembouche. The night ended with sliders and snow cones on the dance floor.

Teveya’s band was led by Hillel Glazer and Jed Lindsider, and had three sets of Jewish music with separate male/female dancing. Then, Sheva Brachot and mixed dancing. An idyllic honeymoon included Paris, Venice, a Greek Isle cruise, and Rome.

Four children later here’s what each has to say:
Ellman: The difference is between the love you feel during emotional highs of getting to know each other vs. the love that comes from building a home and family.
Iteld: Sleep deprivation is real and makes emotions high. Having someone who can find their way through the noise and understand you better than you understand yourself is so important.
Ellman: She throws the best kid’s birthday parties.
Iteld: His thirst for knowledge and adventure teaches us something new every day.

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