Am Yisrael Chai
Amidst death, the people of Israel live
Itay and Omer were to be married last Friday. They had planned it down to the last detail. But then the plans changed.
When Itay was called up, he thought he might celebrate alone with his fellow soldiers near the Gaza strip, saving the wedding for later. Instead, a commander invited him to invite Omer, if she was willing.
She took his call on her way to a military funeral. Her answer was unhesitating: “I shouted ‘yes’ to him!”
Read the full heartwarming story here. When I saw their picture, a few lines came to mind from Fiddler On the Roof:
God would like us to be joyful
Even when our hearts lie panting on the floor
How much more should we be joyful
When there’s really something to be joyful for?
The song, “L’Chaim (To Life),” is a boisterous marriage toast, or more precisely a marriage agreement toast, in context made tragicomic because the expected wedding never actually takes place. (The would-be bride doesn’t love the would-be groom and ultimately marries her true sweetheart instead.) It was always one of my favorite numbers when I watched the movie on repeat as a child. Only later did I really pause to hear the lyrics and realize they were not merely boisterous, not merely joyful. I would call them “bittersweet,” except “bitter” seems the wrong word. There’s no bitterness here. Only that wry, distinctly Jewish acceptance of how things have been, how things will always be. Before each repeat of the title, there’s a little sharp stab. “It takes a wedding to make us say ‘Let’s live another day.’” “May all your futures be pleasant ones, not like our present ones.” “Life has a way of confusing us, blessing and bruising us.” And still, “Drink l’chaim, to life!”
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