On a Friday evening in Antigua, Guatemala, a swarm of guests from all over the world steps into an outdoor hotel plaza for a lively Kabbalat Shabbat service. We have gathered to kick off a long wedding weekend and, as the sun begins to set over the volcanoes that surround the city, the groom leads us all in song as his family beams with pride.

We are seated in a space that has been transformed into a re-creation of the Altneuschul of Prague, where the bride’s grandfather once prayed every Shabbat. The bima is a perfect replica, and the space drips in candlelight cast by the lanterns that adorn it. Our voices rise as we sing; we are awed by the splendor of our setting, of the arrival of the Sabbath, and of our important job to surround this couple with joy.

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