Davka, Dancing Dabka

Davka, Dancing Dabka

When I tell you that my family and I attended a Bedouin wedding this week, what do you think of?

Maybe this:


Well, of course, there are still some Bedouins who live this way, about 50,000 in Israel, but the other 150,000 live more like:

A father and mother may have around 10-14 children, and as they grow up and get married, they build another floor above the mother and father’s residence for boys and their new families.  The girls are whisked away after the wedding to live with her husband’s family.  So, this may look like a huge house to you and me, but in reality, it may already hold 25-30 people.

Though the family we are friends with many years do not have flocks or lands and do not move their living arrangement with the seasons, they are still very traditional.  All of the children in their family have married within the village (of about 7000 people).  That way, they can still see their daughters on Friday nights when they bring all their family to visit and eat together.  One elderly Aunt cried to us that only 1 or 2 of her sons stayed in the village, all the other 8 children have married and moved to Haifa – a long trip for her at this age.

Women from the village came to help prepare the food (we ate 3 full meals today) that is provided at the bride’s home for the bride’s family and guests…All this BEFORE the wedding.  While we drank strong cardamom coffee and received sweets and fruits, the bride was called on by the groom and his family and taken to his house, loud music and the entire family in tow.

Later, we were asked to walk to the town’s center, where the entire school was being used for the wedding.  This was the only place big enough for the whole village to come and participate – as they do for every wedding in the village.  The music was as loud as any concert in Tel Aviv and, though this was all done in the village, they have a specific group of men and women who provide the plastic chairs and tables and amplifiers for all the weddings in the village.

What was the food like??  Look here:

A traditional dish of rice with noodles, sliced almonds and ground beef on top – really yummy.

We ate till we were full; then we got up because, to serve over a 1000 people, you need a lot of chairs and space.  We moved to the soccer field, where the music was coming from and the dancing began.  It was very similar to this, as this was filmed in a village not far from us:

How long did the wedding last?  I can’t tell you.  We arrived at 3pm in order to see the bride’s journey to her new home and left around 10pm….The party was just getting started, but it was a long day for us.

It is one of the pleasures of living in this land.  We can share our traditions and learn from each other, without having any of the stresses or guilt of the conflict we are all entrenched in.

Did any of the guests look at me or my family and think, “They’re from the oppressing side, the Colonialists?”  Maybe, who knows.  I know my friends didn’t and they were the ones we were there to support and celebrate with.

One day, maybe sooner than I’d like, this lovely Hussein family will join us at our daughter’s wedding, and they will celebrate with us doing the Hora.

But today, Davka (in spite of everything), we danced the Dabke.               

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