Weddings on the Bases

The Israel Journal at NYU
3 min readDec 12, 2023

By Yael Gabbaizadeh

A wedding taking place in a community garden (Photo: Shira Bellig/The Forward)

There is absolutely no doubt that the events that took place on October 7th in Israel are nothing to celebrate. Nevertheless, Israelis have held onto celebrations of joy and weddings have gone on. In the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, it is stressed that a wedding should not be delayed (166:3), and they have not been. Despite the horrors Israelis had to endure, weddings have been celebrated, whether in wedding venues, in bomb shelters, or on military bases.

On the morning of October 9th, a bride was preparing for her wedding when the sirens blared. The wedding was supposed to be attended by over 400 guests, but, after the events that took place on October 7th, the bride and groom opted to have an intimate wedding in a small garden. When the mother of the bride arrived at the garden to begin preparing for the ceremony, she found “dozens of strangers making the place beautiful under the direction of teenage girls and boys in their green scout T-shirts.” The community had come together to make sure the wedding took place. One neighbor had donated a “mazal tov” cake, while another brought a wheelbarrow filled with ice to serve as a bar. Strangers thanked the couple and their families for “the relief from doom-scrolling and body counts.” The community found joy in the couples’ joy, and celebrated these strangers’ simcha as if it were their own family members getting married.

In November, after sirens sounded in Israel, two couples in adjacent wedding halls were ushered into the same bomb shelter. In Masechet Ketubot 17a:10, the section on marriage in the Mishna, it states: “If a funeral procession and a wedding procession meet at an intersection, the wedding procession goes first.” Although bombs were dropping around them, both sets of families, friends, grooms, and brides celebrated together in joy. The brides held hands, dancing and celebrating their new marriages. In classic Jewish manner, each one treated the other as a sister, and shared in the celebration of the most important day of each other’s lives.

Shirel Tayeb and Reuven Lebetkin getting married at Israel’s northern border in the midst of the war (Photo: Lebetkin/JTA)

Many brides and grooms have found themselves getting married on army bases, or during their 24 hours of leave. Yonatan Perez, a soldier who was shot on October 7th by Hamas terrorists, married his bride, Galya Landau, on the 17th. The two had planned their wedding months before, and when the day arrived, they met one another under the chuppah. Doron Perez, a rabbi and executive chairman of the Mizrachi World Movement, stated that the wedding “just felt holy” and that “the overriding feeling [at the event] was one of happiness, one of just celebration.” The event brought light in the midst of such a traumatic and dark time.

In the wake of hundreds of thousands of soldiers being called to battle, many weddings were organized spontaneously. My cousin, Maor Tzadiki, is one example of a person who had a spontaneous wedding. On October 23, a screenshot was sent to our family group chat of a WhatApp chain between Maor and Eden, his girlfriend, in which he asks her “Do you want to get married? Now?” Two days later, the couple found themselves on an army base, under a chuppa, getting married. Nobody from their families but their parents were there, but they celebrated with soldiers who sang and danced with joy and happiness for the duo’s wedding day.

Although it is impossible to ignore the tragedies our brothers and sisters are enduring across the globe, these weddings have brought an incredible amount of joy to our lives, and have reminded the Jewish community as a whole that happiness can be found in even the most tragic times. In Tehillim Chapter 100, Verse 2, we are told to “Serve G/d with happiness; come before Him with joyous song.” This is exactly what is taking place during these weddings. G/d is being served with joy. We have not lost hope, and will not let Hamas take away our inherent joys.

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The Israel Journal at NYU

The Israel Journal at NYU is an explanatory journal dedicated to clearing up the conversation around Israel.