Swine Flu: It Can Happen to Jew, Part III
As I noted in the first installment of the "Swine Flu: It Can Happen to Jew" trilogy, my original misconception was that vegetarians and kosher-keeping Jews would be less susceptible to swine flu. I was wrong. Back when swine flu was just an abstract concept, things like saying "What's up, my swine flu?" to fellow Jews seemed much funnier. As I have documented (see the "Related Posts" section below), though, swine flu is no joke. It has affected tens of thousands of people around the world, including quite a few Jews.
Last month, swine flu changed the nature of a Jewish wedding in Highland Park, Ill. According to the Chicago Tribune, Ilana Jackson and rabbinical student Jeremy Fierstien got married in surgical masks and latex gloves less than 48 hours after they learned they had swine flu. They didn't dance, they didn't walk down the aisle, and, for the most part, they stayed 10 feet away from guests. The bride's scheduled hairstylist refused to touch her.
I think anyone would be horrified by having his or her wedding ruined (perhaps that's too subjective a word) by swine flu, but the Chicago Tribune's article partially focused on comic elements. Fierstien reportedly chuckled upon recounting when the doctor told the couple they had swine flu. The couple apparently considered the possibility of a wedding with swine flu before they were diagnosed. "We joked about it. Like, 'Wouldn't it be funny if we had swine flu?'" said Jackson. The article added, "The guests told them to give it a few years and they'd laugh about it, Jackson said. 'I'm, like, give me a few weeks,' she said."
The Miami Herald covered the story as "Weird News." "I'm not sure whether to say 'Oy Vey' or 'Mazel Tov!'" said a Jewish Wedding Network post. BangItOut.com, a "kosher comedy" site, said, "Not sure if one should laugh, cry, or just say Mazal Tov - Happiness waits for no one, no thing, no flu! Total awesomeness .... "
As I discussed in "Pig Flesh: Seriously Funny?" in 2007, Jews have a complicated comic relationship with all things swine. I'd like to think that one reason why we can laugh at this is because no one else got sick and the couple "made the most" of a bad situation. Haaretz editor Joshua Davidovich attended the wedding and wrote:
The wedding of two college friends of mine - the well-publicized "swine flu wedding" held in Chicago last week - was not a spectacle. . . .In conclusion, mazel tov to Jeremy and Ilana!
[F]or all intents and purposes, the wedding written about in hundreds of newspapers and blogs around the world was nearly the same as any other Jewish nuptial ceremony. . . .
I've known Jeremy and Ilana for several years, and if anybody can make the best of a bad situation, they can. I spoke to Jeremy briefly after the wedding about how he and Ilana felt about their "special" day.
"It was uncomfortable," he said. "It would have been nice to dance with family and friends. But we still had a good time."
Pig Flesh: Seriously Funny? (5/12/07)
Swine Flu: It Can Happen to Jew (4/27/09)
Swine Flu: It Can Happen to Jew, Part Deux (6/14/09)
Etc.: Swine Flu (6/18/09)
Fasting Against Swine Flu (5/6/09)
Dr. Michael Greger on Swine Flu (5/1/09)