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Events

A Resounding Response to Terror: Thousands Bring Joy to a Bride and Groom

 

Sarah Techiya and Ariel Biegel under the chuppah immediately after their marriage. (Photo: Hadas Porush/Flash90)
Sarah Techiya and Ariel Biegel under the chuppah immediately after their marriage. (Photo: Hadas Porush/Flash90)

 

JERUSALEM—As thousands of well-wishers from around Israel and the world danced and sang outside the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, hundreds more inside could be seen crying bittersweet tears as they witnessed the marriage of Ariel Biegel and Sarah Techiya Litman, the young woman whose father and brother were murdered by terrorists less than two weeks ago.

Litman’s father, Rabbi Yaakov Litman, and her brother Netanel were gunned down near their home in Kiryat Arba as they drove to a Shabbat celebration for the groom-to-be. During the shiva mourning period, the young couple decided to go on with the wedding after a brief delay, inviting people around the world to join them and fulfill the mitzvah of bringing joy to a bride and groom.

Hundreds from abroad immediately responded. Chabad on Campus centers conducted raffles that sent a group of Jewish college students to the wedding. At Chabad centers in Melbourne, Australia, and in Ottawa, Canada—and in a number of other cities in the United States as well—individuals participated in a chance to attend the wedding and send gifts to the couple. 

Through the support of friends and donors, the ceremony was moved to Binyanei Hauma, the largest convention center in the Middle East. The wedding came as Jews are celebrating the Hakhel year, where unifying gatherings of Jewish men, women and children of all ages are encouraged, with an emphasis on learning Torah.

In fact, the center became so packed with well-wishers that around midnight, one of the family members tearfully asked if celebrants would volunteer to leave so that thousands who were waiting outside could join in the dancing.

Shortly after the ceremony, the bride and groom thanked all those who came to share in their happiness and addressed the enormous crowd that had come to support them.

 

A memorial to the bride's father, Rabbi Yaakov Litman, right, and her 18-year-old brother Netanel, who were recently slain by terrorists. (Photo: Hadas Porush/Flash90)

A memorial to the bride's father, Rabbi Yaakov Litman, right, and her 18-year-old brother Netanel, who were recently slain by terrorists. (Photo: Hadas Porush/Flash90)

 

“Up until two weeks ago, no one knew or was interested in me and Ariel, and then in one moment on a Friday at the peak of our wedding preparations, my dad and my brother were murdered by a cruel terrorist,” said Sarah Techiya Biegel.

“There isn’t a moment that I don’t miss Netanel’s smile, or my father’s humility and modesty, and that will always accompany me,” she said. "But precisely from the pain we are experiencing in this month of courage before Chanukah, we will, together with all the nation of Israel, spread the great light of joy, giving and love that the nation of Israel has inundated us in.”

 

Thousands dance outside as the wedding celebration filled the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.

Thousands dance outside as the wedding celebration filled the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.

 

 

A Tragedy Precipitates a New Program

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Out of a tragedy, a new program has been launched collaboratively between the Israeli police and Chabad Shluchim (Emissaries) around the world, with Rabbi Menachem Kutner, Director of Chabad’s Terror Victims Project (CTVP) asked to serve as the liaison. 

Rabbi Kutner was invited to a working meeting with the Israeli National Police Casualties Division. He introduced the officers to the work of CTVP with victims of terror and war and their families. He also familiarized them with the broad network of Chabad around the world and their dedication to the Jewish people and Jewish communities everywhere, even in the most far-flung locations. 

It was out of a situation that occurred to the Israeli police that the impetus for this new initiative came about. One of the officers had had the heart-wrenching job of going to a family in Israel and telling them that their daughter had died in a car accident during a trip outside of Israel. 

The mother became very angry and refused to accept what he was saying. She said it was a mistake, it couldn’t be her daughter, she’d just spoken with her two hours before as she was leaving on another leg of her trip. 

The officer realized that somehow he was going to have to find proof positive of the daughter’s tragic death in order for the family to accept it. 

Researching how to go about this, he was given the name of the local Chabad Shaliach in the country the daughter had been in. He called him and explained the situation and, without a moment’s hesitation, the Shaliach went immediately to the hospital late that night. He was able to confirm that this was indeed the daughter of that family. 

In the words of the officer: "With the assistance of the Chabad envoy, we could return and inform the family that the news is verified, and we were able to help the family during this  sensitive moment even when official state bodies were not available to help us." 

Because Chabad has a presence all over the world – a network of staff and volunteers dedicated to the welfare of the Jewish people - they are able to help identify Israeli citizens who are living abroad – sometimes in tragedies like this, other times for a variety of other reasons in which families have to reach their loved ones. 

Chabad’s Terror Victims Project is proud to serve as the liaison between the Israeli police and the Chabad Shluchim around the world. It is our distinctive program of assistance to victims of terror and war and their families – and our many years of experience - that makes us uniquely qualified to carry out this important role. 

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