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From Mourning to Joy: Israeli Couple Marries Despite Murder of Father, Brother by Terrorist

November 30, 2015

“Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem … there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom.”  (Jeremiah 33:10–11)

Sara Netanyahu

Sara Netanyahu hugs Sarah-Tehiya Litman who bravely said her wedding vows just 13 days after the murder of her father and brother.  All of Israel and many from around the world gathered to share in their joy and support them in their sorrow.

The blessing of the late Rabbi Ya’akov Litman was pronounced over his daughter Sarah-Tehiya, at her wedding Thursday night — 13 days after a Palestinian terrorist gunned down Litman and Sarah-Tehiya’s 18-year-old brother, Netanel.

Litman had written the blessing with deceased grandparents in mind:  “At this moment of holiness we want to remember the family members who cannot be here with us to share this celebration.  We are certain that they are sharing in our happiness.”  (JPost)

Officiating Rabbi Ya’akov Shapira read the blessing as Sarah-Tehiya and her groom stood under the chuppah (wedding canopy) with hundreds of guests crowded in Jerusalem’s International Convention Center — and thousands more rejoicing outside.

During the seven-day shiva (mourning period) for Litman and Netanel, Sarah-Tehiya and Ariel issued wedding invitations to “everyone,” drawing thousands to the celebration, including Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israel’s prime minister.  The celebration was also broadcast live.

The invitation to all of Israel was preceded by the Scripture:

“Do not rejoice over me, my enemy, for I have fallen but I have gotten up.”  (Micah 7:8)


Sara Netanyahu greets a member of the Litman family.

A number of guests from abroad took whirlwind flights for the Thanksgiving Day wedding, including a group of six students from Queens College in New York who won the trip by a “Chabad on Campus” raffle — whose ticket prices “just broke even” for the flight costs.  (Times of Israel)

“I am glad that I will be able to be there to experience something happy that shows we can still look forward past the horrible things that have been happening,” said 23-year-old raffle winner Sara Just-Michael.

One resident of Mevaseret Zion, Sharon Feldman, said she attended because she was curious how families move rapidly from mourning to joy.

“These people are very brave to go from a murderous catastrophe to something so happy.  That’s the power of faith, I guess,” Feldman said.

Relatives standing alongside included the Litman family members who were in the car that was shot up by terrorists, killing Rabbi Litman and Netanel.  At the wedding, Litman’s wife and children aged 16, 11, 9 and 5, might have still felt the twinges of their own shrapnel injuries and bruises from the attack.

“In the height of the preparations,” on November 13, just three days before the original wedding date, “my father and brother were murdered by a ruthless terrorist,” 21-year-old Sarah-Tehiya wrote.

“A moment does not go by when I do not miss Netanel’s smile and my father’s humility and modesty.  It will always accompany me,” she wrote.  “But it is precisely out of this pain, in the heroic month before Hanukkah, together with all of Israel [we] will ignite a huge light of joy, giving and love that the people of Israel has bestowed upon us.  The main thing is not to be afraid.”

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you;  He will never leave you nor forsake you,”  (Deuteronomy 31:6)

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