I am sure it has happened to many of you – you try to set a date for a major simchah and coordinate the available dates to make sure a number of significant people are able to attend. It’s never as simple as it seems. But sometimes there are hidden rewards—sometimes God is with us.
So it is for our son, Ezra’s, wedding – scheduled to be held near Haifa in a few weeks. When did Shiri and Ezra want to get married? When did any holydays fall out? What dates are impossible or difficult for Marian and me, or for his brothers and sisters-in-law, for his sister, and others, to attend? What dates were available at their chosen venue? How does Shabbat affect the logistics?
Moreover, in Shiri’s Moroccan Sephardic family, there is also a pre-wedding event, at least a week before – called a Henna Ceremony – as well as a post-wedding event on the Shabbat afterwards, known as Shabbat Chattan, the groom’s Shabbat.
After coordinating with everyone, Ezra reserved the venue. It turned out, however, there was an error – someone couldn’t make it then. Ezra did not want to change the date; but with no other choice, he called the venue to see if another date was available, and June 7 was chosen. So to be there for the June 7 wedding, and the May 28 Henna, and Shavu’ot on May 30-31 and Shabbat on May 27, we are leaving for Israel on May 24. And because of the Shabbat Chattan on June 10, we’ll be in Israel until Sunday, June 11.
As it turns out, our son Joshua, his wife Rita, and their daughter Leah, will fly to Israel on June 5, Leah’s first birthday – which she will celebrate in France and Israel. And our son Akiva, his wife Lauren, and their daughter Emuna, will return home just in time for Emuna’s first birthday on June 13.
But there is a little more of significance. Although I did not think of it at the time, that week will be the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, the week when Israel’s military, it’s brave, talented, and well-trained soldiers – due to Jordan’s entry into the war – captured and reunified Jerusalem. It began on June 5, 1967 with Israel’s response to Egyptian mobilization. Here is one account, with relevant quotes from Egypt’s Gamal Nasser and Syria’s Hafez-al Assad (the father of Bashir Assad, then defense minister).
"It was a war intended to annihilate Israel, as was stated clearly by Egypt’s president Gamal Abdul Nasser in 1965: 'We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand; we shall enter it with its soil saturated in [Jewish-NG] blood.'
Nasser’s threats were echoed by then Syrian Minister of Defense Hafez-al Assad, who was to become Syria’s President: 'Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united. As a military man, I believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.'
King Hussein of Jordan, the pluckier papa of the present King Abdullah, was repeatedly asked by Israel’s leaders to stay out of the war; but anxious to shore up his standing in the Arab League, he signed a defense pact with Egypt and joined the war against Israel. As a result, he lost Jordan’s illegal control over what it named 'West Bank' and the ancient part of the city of Jerusalem."
The Old City of Jerusalem fell to Israel on June 7, 1967. On June 7, 2017 we will, God willing, celebrate Ezra and Shiri’s wedding. Most of the Jewish world will be celebrating as well. This is a divine gift.