When a young Israeli couple invited the entire world to their wedding, postponed after Palestinian terrorists murdered the bride’s father and brother, they hoped “multitudes will come to make us happy.”
But they may not have expected that the invitation “to the entire Jewish people” would reach more than 5,000 miles away to Canada, where a Jewish community in Montreal answered the call.
On Thursday, hours before the wedding of Sarah Techiya Litman and Ariel Beigle, 11 members of the Congregation Beth Tikvah synagogue landed in Israel along with their rabbi, having responded to his request for community members to join him at the ceremony.
Litman’s father, Rabbi Yaakov Litman, and 18-year-old brother Netanel were shot dead in a November 13 terrorist attack while driving on Route 60 in the southern West Bank. Other family members in the car — the mother, a 16-year-old boy and three young girls aged 11, 9 and 5 — were lightly wounded, suffering mostly from bruises and shrapnel injuries. The family had been headed to a celebration in southern Israel to mark the imminent marriage.
Sarah and Ariel were due to be married on November 16, just four days after the attack, but the celebration was postponed as the Litman family sat shiva (Jewish mourning period) for Ya’akov and Netanel.
Rabbi Mark Fishman of the Congregation Beth Tikvah told his synagogue last Saturday that he was attending the wedding and that anyone who wanted to was welcome to join him.
After an emotionally charged sermon citing both the terror attacks of a week earlier in Paris, and a series of attacks in Israel, the rabbi concluded by extending an offer of accommodation and hospitality from a friend in Jerusalem.
“All we will need to do is book our flights,” he said.
“And so now I turn to our community, I am looking for people who wish to dance at the wedding, to jump on a plane and come to Israel with me… I realize nothing could be more last minute. Yet nothing speaks more about our commitment and care and peoplehood than to dance at the wedding of Sarah and Ariel,” he told his congregation.
“Instead of mourning, the Jewish people will dance. Instead of crying, the Jewish people will sing. Instead of fear, the Jewish people will have courage. And like Sarah Litman, showing us and leading us with her example, we will go from distress to relief, from darkness to light, from subjugation to redemption.”
Eleven congregants followed the rabbi’s lead, landing in Israel on Thursday for a three-day visit. For two of the group, the trip is their first ever to Israel.
Other participants include three generations of one family — grandfather, son and grandson — and a couple who funded the trip using money they were saving to refurbish their basement. “We can redo our basement another time,” they said.
The group were greeted at the airport by former Knesset member Dov Lipman who said their trip had “filled me with inspiration and hope during this difficult time.”
“This group demonstrates the special quality that we have as a people,” he said.
In addition to the 12 Canadian visitors, thousand of Israelis are expected to attend the wedding Thursday evening at the International Convention Center in central Jerusalem. The public is requested to arrive after 10:30 p.m.
The public wedding invitation, which the couple posted on social media, begins with the biblical quote: “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy, for I have fallen but I have gotten up” (Micah 7:8).