Have you ever been in this situation: you hear rave reviews about a best selling book, only to read it yourself and feel...meh…
Or you hear people discussing a fantastic play but when you see it, it doesn’t quite live up to the hype?
Well, the exact opposite happened recently at Yad Eliezer, with the completion of our newest wedding hall, Ahuzat Friedman in Ashdod. Back in September, when renovations began on the former Ahuzat Tal wedding halls, there was a lot of work to do. Though the venue (two halls and all their amenities), spread over 11 dunams of land, was in very good condition, it needed to be upgraded. The two halls would need to be reconfigured into three. Additional changes were necessary in order for the complex to reach Yad Eliezer’s standards. With our years of experience in making beautiful, yet affordable weddings at our halls in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, our planning staff, working with architects, designers and engineers went in with a vision and expertly ascertained just what needed to be done. When the construction began, so did the anticipation.
Meanwhile in our Jerusalem office, along with all the daily work that running our many social service programs require, you could hear the discussions about the halls. Phone calls were made, donors were approached, meetings were held. Trips to the building site were taken. Every detail- flooring choices, lighting, A/C vents, signage, furniture, kitchenware, sound systems, safety assurances- and so much more, was carefully planned. As the months passed, you could also hear that the project was progressing beautifully. Yet aside from a few photographs of the work in progress, there was no way for most of us to actually know how the halls were coming out. Were they really as beautiful as they sounded?
Yes they were.
And then some.
Our office staff was treated to a tour of the venue recently, and we were stunned as soon as we came through the front door. There was so much to take in as we walked from one exquisite hall to the next, down long, beautiful corridors, through the expansive, professional kitchens...Everything-all those details and considerations we had only heard about (and plenty that we hadn’t) were now--right there! We could see how the careful, well thought out choices had fallen into place in the elegant, modern results before us.
But the venue isn’t just beautiful. It’s also innovative. For example, one hall is specifically designed with a Sephardic flare. The unique mechitzas in all the halls are custom designed. There are spacious yichud rooms. All the highest standards of kashrut requirements are met. There is a separate room designated for nursing mothers. In addition to our own professional kitchens, our caterer’s is located just a few meters away, providing access for additional supplies. All leftovers are packed up and sent home with the wedding party. And the list goes on and on.
Walking through the complex, it was hard to believe that we were in a “chesed hall” that provides subsidized weddings for families in need. But that’s exactly what Yad Eliezer is all about-helping people with dignity. And in this case, helping needy families in the South make beautiful simchas-really beautiful- enabling them to feel as special as everyone else.