Chana Devorah Solomon of Short Hills was among the thousands who attended the wedding of an Israeli woman whose father and brother were killed in a West Bank terror attack days before she was to be married in Jerusalem.
Along with millions of others, Solomon received her invitation to the wedding of Sarah Techiya Litman and Ariel Beigle via social media — a gesture of defiance and hope following the bride’s shiva period for her slain relatives.
Unlike most of the invitees, Solomon booked a ticket to attend the wedding.
“I watched the video of this girl sitting shiva on the night of her wedding, with her little sister on her lap,” Solomon, back in New Jersey, recalled in a conversation with NJJN on Dec. 4. “When I saw the invitation, I thought, this is an amazing little 21-year-old girl. And this is what she needed, what Israel needed, what the Jewish people needed. She did it for everyone.”
Sarah’s father, Ya’akov, and brother, Netanel, 18, were shot to death near the West Bank settlement of Otniel Nov. 18 as they drove in a car with five other family members to a pre-wedding celebration.
Instead of marrying, Sarah sat shiva. And then the couple invited the entire Jewish world to attend their rescheduled wedding, held Nov. 26 at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center.
Solomon and her husband, Rabbi Mendel Solomon of Ahavath Torah: Chabad of Short Hills, both thought someone from their family should go. “He went to the computer, clicked a few times, and said, ‘I got you a ticket,’” she recalled. That was Tuesday. The wedding was Thursday evening.
As people learned she was going, she said, “They started handing me wedding gifts for the kallah [bride]. Everyone started knocking on the door, bringing letters and cash and envelopes.”
Solomon arrived in Israel Thursday evening, rushing as she stopped at a relative’s apartment, changed her clothes, and headed to the hall. She hadn’t heard that the doors weren’t to open until 10:30 p.m., so Solomon actually arrived about 90 minutes early, and as a result was among the first people behind the barricade that had been set up. With a little cajoling — and because of the envelope she carried that she hoped to hand-deliver and the distance she had traveled — she was permitted to enter when there were fewer than 80 to 100 people gathered.
She found the bride inside, on the groom’s side of the mehitza, as the men were dancing around her and the groom.
Solomon made her way to the women’s section and joined a handful of women dancing around the bride’s mother. Solomon had the chance to tell her story to the mother and show her the envelope filled with gifts from New Jersey. “She said, ‘Thank you so much.’ And then we danced together,” Solomon said. “I was smiling so much as I danced with her, but I was holding back tears I thought would come pouring out.”
As the bride returned to the women’s side, “she danced with her friends and was hugging them,” said Solomon. “You could see she has a special personality.”
Eventually, the bride put her hand out and smiled at Solomon. She “made me feel so welcome. She didn’t even know me,” said Solomon. “I danced with the kallah!”
As the barricades opened, she said, thousands of people came in, more than the building could hold. She recalled everyone “dancing, celebrating, jumping,” inside and outside.
Afterward, Solomon headed out of the hall with the rest of the guests. But she didn’t leave. Instead, she continued to celebrate. A group of Breslov hasidim blared music from about eight speakers on four or five vans, she recalled. “Outside became an extension of the wedding, and it went on for hours,” she said.
As for the whole experience, Solomon said, “Sarah is like Miriam. When the Jews were in Egypt, at their low, giving up all hope, Miriam got the women together. They danced with timbrels. She was saying, ‘We are going to celebrate and not let them bring us down.’
“That’s what Sarah did. She got up and put Israel and the whole world on a high. She said, ‘We can overcome. You’re not going to get us down.’”
Shadi Mutawa, 28, a member of Islamic Jihad, was arrested and has implicated himself in the killings of Ya’akov and Netanel Litman, according to the Shin Bet security service.