Toddlers, Finger paint, and a Wedding

Toddlers, Finger paint, and a Wedding

Our story starts on a Sunday this past October.

Our Tiny Treks Teva family nature class had just finished exploring an all-natural Sukkah in the dry lakebed at Picchetti Ranch in Cupertino.

As the group was chatting at the cars, I was curious about the European accents from two new parents.

We struck up a conversation that led to discussing our “Jewish journeys.” Nika, the mother, shared that she and her husband Axel had met 10 years earlier at their citizenship test (she is from Croatia, he from France). Married on a friend’s rooftop garden on the “anniversary” of becoming citizens, the couple started an exploration of Judaism in Boston. They fell equally in love with Jewish tradition, and converted to Judaism together.

Then a few years later, Nika and Axel moved to California for work. They started their family with the birth of Noa (now 3) and lived through the pandemic far away from any extended family. Tiny Treks Teva was an exciting opportunity to bring all parts of their life together. Exploring nature through a Jewish lens with other young families.

Upon hearing this incredible story, I wondered if Nika and Axel had ever had a Jewish wedding ceremony.
When the answer was “not yet,” I of course offered to officiate for them whenever they were ready.

Fast forward to second Sunday in May, the final class for Tiny Treks community.

Tiny Treks Teva met at the beautiful Sharon Park off Sand Hill Road.  The busy little hands and fingers of our happy students covered the white sheet we used for a homemade chuppah in colorful paint. Parents were smiling (and a bit dirty) from their own design challenge of attaching the chuppah to its bamboo poles with objects found in their cars. PJ LibraryTinky Treks

Under their custom chuppah, with a colorful ketubah and silicon wedding rings; surrounded by the families they have hiked with throughout the school year, the couple’s wedding kicked off with a joyful rendition of of Hinei Mah Tov.
Parents from the group read the English interpretations of the Sheva Brachot wedding blessings.
Friends who hosted Nika and Axel’s original secular wedding 10 years ago served as witnesses for the ketubah as they placed the new silicon rings on each others fingers.
Mazel Tov
After singing Mazal Tov and enjoying French pastries, the “Jewishly-newly-weds” and the rest of the families continued on our nature walk, running through the dandelions and hiking a small incline to a sweet meadow for a closing memory circle of the Tiny Treks experience. 

MAZAL TOV Nika, Axel, and Family!

This wedding (and the entire Tiny Treks Teva program) was an unforgettable and unique experience for our community. My heart still lingers with joy. Thank you for letting us be a part of your journey.

Tiny TreksHappy summer to all our Tiny Treks families.

Thanks for being with us this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbi Laurie Matzkin is the Family Educator for Jewish Silicon Valley and the PJ Library Silicon Valley Manager, a national organization dedicated to helping families with children from birth to 12 years old create treasured Jewish moments from the simple act of reading stories together. This and other family programs are offered by the generous donations of our community at JSV, and the PJ Library Alliance.