In the year 2002, Josh arrived in Israel for a visit.
And, while he was here, he attended the wedding of the brother of our close friend, Itay Ziman. He called me after the wedding to say that he had never experienced anything like it in the world - and that it was almost impossible to describe an Israeli wedding.
And that it made him want to make Aliyah.
Years later, when we arrived on Aliyah and I attended my first Israeli wedding, it left me speechless as well. Weddings here are so full of simcha and joy, so enthusiastic and giving that they are hard to explain. There is no formality; just raw energy and unbridled enthusiasm.
So, we felt like we had come full circle as we watched our chayal boded's (lonely soldier's) wedding, an Israeli wedding that was now for our own soldier.
Jeff made Aliyah as a single 19 year old from Cleveland, after studying here for a year. He is a sweet, genuine and giving young man and we've had the joy of watching him grow and change through his army experience.
He and his bride, Devra, chose to get married on Yom Yerushalayim, the day that Jerusalem was reunited for the first time in 2000 years in 1967.
And they got married, of course, in Jerusalem.
At one point, Jeff stood under the chuppah, seemingly by himself. His parents were standing there in the background, but they were far enough back that he looked alone. It was such a poignant moment that it made me cry, watching this young boy, so full of promise and expectation, awaiting the arrival of his bride.
The sun was starting to set behind him and the band played a romantic tune of hope and promise; and there he stood with the outline of Jerusalem behind him and his future before him.
And it made me think about what an incredible statement of hope and continuity a wedding is. Jeff stood there, a soldier, a yeshiva student, a soon-to-be-husband, moving to the next stage of his life in Jerusalem, the eternal city of our people. And he did so on the day when we won back that eternal city and showed our incredible might and faith in ourselves.
He stood under the chuppah in Jerusalem, connected to thousands of years of his heritage; to boys who only dreamed of having such an opportunity during the Holocaust and to those who made it come true in the Six Day War.
It was a moment that I was honored to be part of, and one that I hope and pray to see fulfilled by my boys someday in Jerusalem as well.
(Jeff imparts words of wisdom to my two oldest - Matan and Yehuda - as he gives them a Bracha for their future.)