David Wilder was born in New Jersey in the USA in 1954, and graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a BA in History and teacher certification in 1976. He spent 1974-75 in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University and returned to Israel upon graduation.
For over eighteen years David Wilder has worked with the Jewish Community of Hebron. He is the English spokesman for the community, granting newspaper, television and radio interviews internationally. He initiated the Hebron internet project, including email lists of over 15,000 subscribers who receive regular news and commentaries from Hebron in English and Hebrew. David is responsible and continues to update the Hebron web sites, portraying various facets of Hebron, utilizing text, audio, video and pictures. He conducts tours of Hebron's Jewish Community and occasionally travels abroad, speaking at Hebron functions.
David Wilder is married to Ora, a 'Sabra,' for 35 years. They lived in Kiryat Arba for 17 years and have resided at Beit Hadassah in Hebron for the past 15 years. They have seven children and many grandchildren.
Last week I had a wonderfully pleasant experience.
Many years ago, more than I even like to think about, over 33 years ago, I began studying in a “Ba’ale Tshuva” Yeshiva in Jerusalem, called Machon Meir. This type of yeshiva institution is especially for those ‘new’ at religious Judaism. I’d been sort of trying to be religious for a while, but wasn’t very well educated. I’d had a friend at Machon Meir, spent many Shabbats there, and decided to try it out, maybe for a year. (Actually, in the end I spent three years there, met my wifethere, and married after a year.)
My friend there, Shlomo, left back for the US as I arrived, so I moved into his room, inheriting his roommate, a red-head from Australia named David Bruce. No, I didn’t find any kangaroos in the room, although I looked, but, I had brought with me, as I recall, a turtle. He took one look at the turtle , and as far as he was concerned, it was at least a kangaroo. My turtle found a new home real fast.
However, somehow we overcame that first encounter, and became good friends. David was very amusing. I remember him literally climbing the walls, trying to get to the mosquitoes that were busy sucking our night-time blood.
But aside from that, he was quiet serious and spent most of his time studying Torah. And, getting ready to be married. His finance, Leah, had come to Israel, and they were preparing for their own special day. Eventually they left to tie the knot with their families, in Australia. (The night they married I first met Ora, my wife.)
After we were two couples, we lived in the same neighborhood, Mevaseret Tzion, just outside of the holy city, continuing to study at the yeshiva. One happy day David called to tell us that Leah had just given birth to their first children – twin boys, Yochanan and Binyamin. They were followed by two more brothers and a sister.
We went our own ways, David and Leah moving back to Jerusalem; we left Mevaseret for Kiryat Arba and Hebron. But somehow, over the years, we kept in touch. Not speaking every day; maybe a couple of times a year, meeting every once in while, and of course, inviting each other to our respective children’s weddings. Whenever we got together it was a lot of fun.
Not too long ago we received such an invitation to another of their weddings, that of Moshe, the Bruces’ youngest son, with Shira. So, a few nights ago Ora and I, together with David’s first Machon Meir roommate, Shlomo, and his wife Gerri, drove into Jerusalem for the wedding.
As all weddings are, it was a delight. The couple was radiant, the dancing was invigorating, and the food was good too.
Usually, of course, the highlight of any wedding is the “Chupa,” the ceremony whereby the couple is actually married. However, at this particular ‘simcha’ (happy event) the Chupa had some stiff competition for ‘star of the show’ award.
Having finished dancing, and partaking in the meal’s second course, I found my friend David, to wish him one more Mazel Tov and bid him farewell. He asked, ‘you’re leaving now?’ ‘Wait, we’re going to do the ‘broom dance.’’
Ahh, the ‘broom dance.’ This is a very special event. Such a dance is performed when a couple marries off their last, and usually, youngest child. I’ve been to many many weddings, but I don’t recall ever witnessing such a performance. And before I knew it, David was holding a decorated broom, with Leah at his side, with a colorful dustpan. The orchestra started playing and they started sweeping. The idea being, that they are ‘sweeping’ their youngest child out of the house. He, Moshe, was sitting with his Kallah,- bride, Shira, in the middle, watching at the broom got closer and closer.
Then suddenly, all the Bruce grandchildren appeared on the dance floor, all with their own miniature brooms, sweeping away to the beat of the joyous music.
For about five minutes, they danced the ‘broom dance’ called in Yiddish, ‘Mezinka’, derived from the Yiddish word ‘mezinkal’ meaning ‘the youngest child.’
What fun it was! I would wish all of you reading this, the same joy and happiness, as we approach the New Year in less than two weeks time.
And in conclusion it really should be pointed out, as I saw in a web posting about this particular dance, the parents of the bride and groom really don’t sweep them out of the house permanently. After all, they want them to come back and visit with all their children, so they can dirty up the house, allowing them to keep using those brooms, again and again.