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The Incredible Wedding that United Us All

By Nechama Dina Hendel

I'll admit that I'm not a night person, and the most natural thing for me to do at 10:30 PM is to wind down for bed. But last night, on November 26th, the 14th of Kislev, there was something far more important than sleep on my mind.

Terror victim, Sara Techiya Litman, and her groom Ariel Biegel, had sent out an invitation for the entire Jewish nation to join them in celebrating their wedding, less than two weeks after the brutal murders of Sara's father and brother, Rabbi Yaakov and Netanel HY"D.

The Incredible Wedding that United Us All: Terror victim, Sara Techiya Litman (right), and her groom, Ariel Biegel (left), had sent out an invitation for the entire Jewish nation to join them in their wedding, less than two weeks after the brutal murders of Sara's father and brother, Rabbi Yaakov, and Netanel, HY"D. Prime Minister�s wife, Sara Netanyahu (center) attended the wedding personally while her husband, Benjamin, greeted all through video. Photos: Kobi Gideon/GPO for Israel Sun

How could I resist such a heartwarming invitation? How could I not respond to this incredible gesture of courage coming from the bereaved family, who despite their pain were reaching out in love and unity to every Jew? Jews from abroad were flying to Israel to be a part of this historic wedding, so how could I miss it?

So at 10:15 pm, my husband and I drove from our East Talpiyot neighborhood to the Jerusalem International Convention Center.

As we got closer, the traffic was intense, and my anticipation accelerated.

After parking at a considerable distance, we finally neared the stairs leading up to the Convention Center. We saw people running in excitement, eager to be a part of the wedding celebration. The variety of Jews and the palpable joy brought to mind images of the Jewish people during ancient times, making their pilgrimage to the Holy Temple.

I tried to take it all in. Hundreds and even thousands, of young men and women, couples of all ages, and Jews of every background gathered outside the Jerusalem Convention Hall.

There was no way for us to get inside. The hall was clearly filled to capacity, as police officers confirmed, so we celebrated outside the building under the beautiful Jerusalem sky.

Several trucks were blasting joyful melodies, with Breslov Chassidim in creative costumes dancing atop the trucks. Numerous dancing circles were formed by the crowd below, and with linked arms, our nation raised its voice.

A group of young students were swaying, their arms around one another, while singing, "The entire world is a narrow bridge� but the main thing is to have no fear at all." Others chose faster paced songs, and jumped up and down in their lively singing, huddled in tight circular embraces.

I noticed a woman standing on a narrow, raised platform beside a thorn tree and made a quick decision to join her. I did not regret this uncomfortable position, as several minutes later a dancing circle emerged from the hall, carrying the groom himself atop their shoulders.

Because of my elevated perch, I was able to look at Ariel at eye level, only a few feet away.

What an electrifying few moments. The groom's face was flushed and beaming, as he swung his arms, waving and signaling to the crowd to be strong. He led the thousands of us in singing, "Am Yisrael Chai� -- The Jewish nation lives!

The eager crowd greeted him as a celebrity, and he did not let us down. He smiled, waved, swung his arms, and sang with all his might, radiating a holy charisma.

He made eye contact with many, and the warmth in his eyes conveyed the feeling that he was each of our best friends. And, the truth is, that at that wedding, we all were his and Sara's best friends.

Why did we each make the effort to be there, or donate, or reach out in some other way? Because of the kinship and unity that we feel as a nation. Because of the feeling that we are all family and in this together.

The euphoric joy and huge smile on my face was mirrored in the faces around me. My friend, Shoshana, who was standing nearby remarked, "This feels like Sinai."

A little while after the groom's ten minute debut with the crowd outside, we headed home, with busy Shabbat preparations looming ahead.

These precious moments will stay with me forever.

These moments captured the essence of our people--the faith, the hope and the unity.

And these moments will lead us towards redemption, may it be speedily!

 

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