November 26, 2015

We will bring the joy back

Sarah Techiya and Ariel under the chuppa tonight.
Here in Israel, there is tragedy almost every day.  I do not need to echo the news stories, the deep sorrow, the intense loss of beautiful lives and the insanity.

We are living through horrific times and there is no solution in sight. We are glued to the news, to every flash across our phone screens, to each ambulance that flies by with sirens blaring.

When we step outside, we wish we had eyes behind our heads. We are hyper aware in crowds of people and when walking near bus shelters and on crowded sidewalks.

We are, in effect, learning to live alertly. But the key words here are ‘to live.’ We are not cowering inside. We go to work, we send our children to school,  we do our groceries. We sip our coffees like we always do, the warm November sun washing over our faces. We go out for meals, preferring an outdoor table, where we sip a glass of wine with friends.

We live. Israelis love life and we will continue to live each day fully. We will not cower or run or hide. We will not let fear dictate us. No. We will mourn and we will celebrate.

The most beautiful example of this is the story of  Sarah-Techiya Litman. The Shabbat before her wedding to Ariel Bigel, her family was driving to the town of Meitar, where Ariel lives. En route, terrorists opened fire and killed her father and her 18-year-old brother. This was just before Shabbat, a Shabbat that was to be celebrated. Instead, it was a Shabbat of shock, whispers and tears.

Instead of having a wedding, there were two funerals and a shiva.  Sarah said, “This evening, instead of wearing the bridal dress, I will sit on the floor with a torn shirt.”  On that evening, 1,000 women gathered in the wedding hall to learn Torah, listen to music and to be strengthened.

Sarah and Ariel decided they would mourn and then celebrate. They postponed the wedding for  nine days and have invited the whole nation of Israel. The chuppa is tonight at the Binyanei Ha’Uma in Jerusalem, the largest hall in the country.

The wedding invitation. "Everyone is invited."

Tens of thousands are coming from all parts of the country because Israelis love celebrating and they care deeply for each other. And because we are one big family. 

Tonight, Am Israel is being bound up by song and by dance. Being beside the young bride and groom strengthens the couple and our nation's future.   

After the tragic death of yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz, we mourned again. Many other yeshiva students in Israel and their parents abroad may have panicked, yet the answer is not to run away. 
American Yeshiva student Ezra Shwartz z"l. We mourn for him.

A facebook video that went viral explains why. Please click on the video in this Times of Israel article and listen to the inspired words of Elisha Levy.

And remember the words of Sarah, a young but wise 20 year old. A bride who just lost her father and brother to terror and who is now dancing at her wedding reminds us that "We will bring the joy back."

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