Help! Toast Needs Meat, Wit

By Wendy Belzberg

Published February 06, 2004, issue of February 06, 2004.
  • Print
  • Share Share

My son is getting married, and I will be called upon to deliver a toast at the wedding. I want to give my son, his bride and our guests some words to remember. Can you offer any hints or direction about how to compose my remarks in a clever fashion with a Jewish theme?

A mother’s mazel tov

Here are the ingredients that make for a good toast: Start with a joke. Add a good deal of compassion. Embarrass all parties equally. Pick up a book of Jewish quotations and discard it. Most quotes about marriage, if not all, are discouraging and disparaging. Whatever you do, don’t even think about quoting Sigmund Freud or Dorothy Parker. Speak off the cuff — or at least appear to. Don’t read from a piece of paper. Tell a specific anecdote that reveals exactly why the bride and groom are well-matched. If possible, draw on your own happy marriage to offer a few tips for success. Close with a minute of silent prayer — or perhaps a Shehecheyanu, if it’s a more traditional crowd. After all, with divorce rates what they are, we could use all the help God can offer.

* * *

I have a friend who is constitutionally incapable of admitting any wrongdoing. We recently had an argument where she was clearly in the wrong but would take no responsibility for what she had done. Should I take it on or let it go? Is this worth losing a friendship over?

— Out of order

Nobody’s perfect. Including you. Are you certain that you are as innocent as you make out? That said, you tell me: Do the pluses of the friendship outweigh the minuses? That may sound like a clinical basis on which to evaluate a relationship, but it isn’t the worst one. If you are unwilling to forgive your friend this flaw, I suggest you walk away. Taking it on will likely result in another conversation in which she is fully in the right and you are in the wrong. If, however, you can accept your friend and your friendship for all of the other good things that come with it, allow for her one idiosyncrasy. We all make allowances every day: Think of it as adjusting the cooking time for a higher altitude or the climate control for the cold. Next time you find yourself in this situation with your friend, just turn down the heat.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at

Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover!
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.