On Friday, November 13th, Rabbi Yaa’cov Litman and his 18-year-old son Netanel were murdered in a terror attack near Hebron. Five other family members – Litman’s wife, three daughters aged 5, 9, and 11, and a 16-year-old son – suffered minor wounds.
The family was driving to the Shabbat Kallah (a bride’s pre-wedding Shabbat celebration) of Sarah Techiya, a fourth daughter, who was scheduled to be married that Tuesday. But instead of celebrating a marriage, the Litman family sat shiva for their beloved father and husband, brother and son.
“This evening, instead of wearing the bridal dress, I will sit on the floor with a torn shirt,” said Sarah . “But very soon, we will marry in a large and happy wedding. We will go on and be happy as Father and Netanel always were. We will not be crushed.” She and her fiance, Ariel Beigel, released an invitation: “Don’t make our enemies happy. We fell, we got up, with G-d’s help, our wedding will take place next Thursday, 26 November, 14 Kislev, at Binyanei Hauma in Jerusalem. Am Yisrael is invited to get up from the dust and rejoice with us….”
OTS alumnus Rabbi Mark Fishman, rabbi of Montreal’s Congregation Beth Tikva, was so “moved and indeed inspired” by Sarah’s fortitude that he decided to drop everything and fly to Israel in order to dance at Sarah and Ariel’s wedding.
The Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary musmach and Straus-Amiel graduate wrote to his congregation: “I will be flying out to Israel to dance at this wedding and be a part of the epic saga that is Jewish destiny. … we as a community have been blessed by individuals who have stepped up and wish to join. The trip will last just 4 days, returning immediately after Shabbat. I will be making a special gift on behalf of the synagogue’s Torah Fund to the wedding couple and I want you to know that this gift is a gift from you as well… While we are 12 people traveling to Israel, we know that we carry the entire Beth Tikvah family on our shoulders.”
Rabbi Fishman’s wife, Sarah, shared her thoughts with the congregation as well.
“There are moments in life when you know – beyond a shadow of doubt – the right thing to do. One of those moments came last week after my husband and I read of Sara Litman’s response to the terror that struck her family. We knew – one of us had to attend this wedding. Why? Because those of us living outside of Israel do not bear the tremendous task of protecting our homeland. That responsibility is entrusted to those 18 year-old men and women who serve in the IDF. Because we, who live outside of Israel, do not bear the weight on our shoulders on a daily basis of what route to take as we drive our kids to school, what supermarket to shop at today, and far too often lately, what funeral to attend. That weight is carried on the shoulders of Israelis. So why go to the wedding? Because OUR role in the history of the Jewish people is to ensure that those who DO live in our homeland truly know that we support them, that we appreciate all they do so that we too can have the ‘zchut’ (merit) of calling Israel ‘OUR’ homeland from so far away.
To the 12 of you who have put everything aside and decided to join my husband on this journey to Israel for a mere 4 days, all to dance at this wedding, I commend you and wish I could be with you. We are a people that sanctifies and celebrates life – we always will be. Please dance with Sara and Ariel for me.”