The Bridesman by Savyon Liebrecht

Settled in business class on a flight from L.A. to Israel, Micha, a successful 39-year-old ghostwriter, remains baffled by an all- expenses-paid invitation from his Aunt Adella. Micha hadn’t seen her in 24 years, though etched into his memory is the first time he met Adella, a candidate to marry his Uncle Moshe.


Micha was a precocious nine-year-old when his fiercely-proud Persian family summoned Adella, 18, from the Tel Aviv orphanage for an interview. Wearing thick glasses, walking with a limp, Adella fielded a barrage of arrogant questions to investigate her suitability as a bride. Micha offered Adella a “candy coated almond” and gave her a hug, before she was dismissed and unceremoniously ushered out, feeling empty and rejected. Uncle Moshe remained silent grinning, his hands trembling. Moshe was mentally and physically disabled, a closely guarded family secret.


When there were no other candidates for six months, Adella, demanded three conditions before she would return for her second interview: To speak one on one to Moshe, to see his physician and to speak in privately with only one family representative. Conditions met, Adella asked Micha to be her “shoshbbin,” the bridesman.


Little Micha approved Adella’s gown she made of special material, sewn to perfection with her own hands. She expressed her passion for knitting and displayed her beautiful sweater made of lace, ribbons and cashmere. Micha loved his soon-to-be Aunt Adella’s soft voice and kind words.


The wedding was joyless, without the traditional Sephardic ululations, nor flowers, music or “sheva brachot.” One aunt grabbed Adella’s glasses. Micha guided Adella blindly under the chuppah. The family roared with laughter imagining the couple’s first night together. Adella became the family slave taking care of the old grandfather, cooking, cleaning and working in the family bakery.


After the wedding, Micha rarely saw his aunt and uncle. However, at age fifteen when Micha got very sick, he was grudgingly granted his wish to recuperate with Adella and Moshe. For three weeks, Adella tenderly and lovingly nursed him to health. Shortly thereafter Micha left Israel with his mother, for L.A. Micha lost touch with his Israeli family hearing about the high and lows of his Israeli mishpacha. Two uncles had heart attacks, one cousin divorced, and baby Elisha was born to Adella and Moshe.  


Now back in Israel, inside an elegant cab, Micha was mystified why he was en route to the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv for a meeting with Mrs. Adel. What could possibly be the reason his newly named aunt sent for him? 


An affecting novella by Israeli author Savyon Lebrechet, The Bridesman overflows with pathos, warmth and the tenacity of a woman who dares to seek independence.