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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A house of faith in Israel

[A guest post by Zahava]

One of the customary salutations to a couple at their wedding is “may you build a bayit ne’eman b’yisrael (a faithful house in Israel)... and the 'Chuppah' (canopy under which the ceremony takes place) is representative of the home the new couple will establish together.

The other night I had the joy, honor and privilege of attending the wedding of a couple who had demonstrated the extreme power of faith long before they arrived at their chuppah.

David has written in the past about Elroi Refael Mizrachi, a young IDF infantry officer and son of our close friends and neighbors, who was critically wounded in Gaza back in the summer of 2005.  If you are new to treppenwitz, you can read about the incident and his long road to recovery here, here and here.

During that first terrible day, Elroi's family was initially told that he had no chance of surviving the shrapnel wound to his brain stem.  His injuries were just too serious.  Then they were told that if he somehow managed to survived the first day or two, that he would certainly never wake up. 

For weeks, as he remained in a deep coma, his family and friends kept faith and prayed (along with many of the readers of this site) for a miracle... and his girlfriend, Chaviva, stayed by his side day and night, refusing to lose faith.

More than a month after he was given no chance of survival, Elroi Refael opened his eyes for the first time, saw Chaviva standing by his side and began the long fight against brain injury and the resulting paralysis to join her under the chuppah... standing together in their house of faith.

During the ceremony, the voice of the Mesader Kiddushin  (officiating Rabbi) cracked as he told the couple, “Elroi, Chaviva: you two stand here tonight, together as one; finally complete.”

Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.  Like a sun-shower that combines the blessings of rain and sunshine, the tears that were shed were the heady mix of joy, gratitude, love and happiness.

To see this young man dance with his radiant bride was to experience a modern day miracle! 

I hope you will join us in wishing this young couple a lifetime of happiness as they continue to build their 'bayit ne'eman b'yisrael' together.

Posted by David Bogner on August 5, 2009 | Permalink


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I so wish I could have been there. Other than our wedding, of course, I think this would be the one I most wanted to attend.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Aug 5, 2009 6:27:41 AM

Mazal Tov to this very special couple.

Posted by: Baila | Aug 5, 2009 7:19:34 AM

Man's wisdom isn't G_d's wisdom. Physicians do their best and have a responsibility to prepare a family for the worst, but the Creator has the final say. Stories like this bring Him glory. :)

What makes this even better (at least for me) is that the recipient of grace is a combat vet. A man who risked it all for his country and despite the best efforts of the enemy, is back on his feet. Excellent.

Posted by: Karl Newman | Aug 5, 2009 8:07:04 AM

Thank you, Zahava, for sharing another reason to add tears of joy to the world. Hodu Lashem, Ki Tov, Ki L'Olam Chasdo!

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Aug 5, 2009 8:45:22 AM

Thanks for making my day Zahava - good news from a distant land!

Posted by: Noa | Aug 5, 2009 9:58:20 AM

That is a great story. Having been around long enough to remember the first part of the story I have always been interested in the updates. Mazal Tov to the couple.

Posted by: Jack | Aug 5, 2009 10:09:10 AM

Trep: You were missed. I am sorry you were not here -- you would have really enjoyed....

Baila: Amen.

Karl: Couldn't agree more!

Ruti: Not surprisingly, that song was the theme of the evening, quite literally! The band did an amazing rendition, and there was much joyous weeping!

Noa: Truly a pleasure.

Jack: I was thinking of you (and all the wonderful folks) whose love/concern/prayers were expressed back then!

Posted by: zahava | Aug 5, 2009 11:55:50 AM

Fantastic. A time when mazal tov seems quite inadequate to wish this brave and faithful couple and their family and friends. May we share many more such stories of the triumphant survival and unity of Klal Yisrael. Thank you for sharing this joyous news. My shul was one of many that said MiSheBerach for the young man ..I will take great joy in passing on this wonderful news to them.

Posted by: Judy | Aug 5, 2009 2:51:55 PM

This post made my day. All those Mi she-Beirakhs must have been good for something! ;-)

Posted by: Elisson | Aug 5, 2009 3:07:21 PM

Judy and Elisson: Everyone I know who davened for this young man feels an extra special something in hearing about the marriage! And by all means, YES!, share the good news with all the wonderful folks who added Elroi Refael to their prayers! :-)

Posted by: zahava | Aug 5, 2009 3:28:13 PM

Thank you for posting such an uplifting story. I can't tell you how much this touched me today, only having lived the other side of the "grim prognosis". May this couple be blessed with many years of health and happiness!

Posted by: Terri in PA | Aug 5, 2009 4:11:19 PM

Zeh hayom asah Hashem, nagila v'nism'cha vo....

Posted by: Marsha, b'Moshava HaGermanit | Aug 5, 2009 4:46:43 PM

OK, I'm bawling

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Aug 5, 2009 5:28:17 PM

Terri: Thank you!

Marsha: אמן

Jordan: Aw! Ya big softie! :-)

Posted by: zahava | Aug 5, 2009 6:48:53 PM

A very uplifting narrative. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Aug 5, 2009 8:40:30 PM

I have been given reason in the past year to believe (as with Jerry Schroeder, the Jewish physicist) that everything's a miracle. I append that, in my own belief system, thus: everything's a miracle, but some miracles are more equal than others.

G-d be praised for this young man's recovery. May his family be hale and hearty, and (truly) may his tribe increase.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Aug 5, 2009 9:40:47 PM

Thank you for sharing this story. It's a wonderful reminder how powerful hope and prayer are. הודו לה' כי טוב.

Posted by: Idit | Aug 6, 2009 12:13:55 AM

Zahava -- I had to get up and get a tissue in the middle of reading your post!! I remember the story and can't stop my tears of joy -- what a story of increadible miracles and blessings.

This story is such a strong reminder that God is our ultimate healer and anything is possible.

May God grant a רפואה שלמה לכל חולי עמו ישראל!!

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | Aug 6, 2009 2:23:39 AM

B"H, what a wonderful story. I needed to read that, especially now, as a young neighbor was just seriously injured. He fell off a "traktoron" on his head. Please pray for a refuah shleimah, Yisrael Or ben Tova.

Posted by: Batya from Shiloh | Aug 6, 2009 6:44:33 AM

Ilana-Davita: Not sharing was never an option! Elroi Rafael's story has become a part of so many people's lives -- simply had to share the good news!

Wry Mouth: Your comment reminds me of a comment made to me years ago by a friend of mine who is a mid-wife: "birth is life's most common, everyday, miracle!" I agree some miracles are more equal than others.

Idit: Agreed!

RivkA: אמן

Batya: I will certainly include Yisrael Or ben Tova in my t'filot! Please keep us posted of his status!

Posted by: zahava | Aug 6, 2009 9:29:35 AM

Wonderful, fantastic news. Thank God.

This post needed a tissue alert....

Posted by: Rahel | Aug 6, 2009 2:22:33 PM

Mazal Tov! Thanks for sharing this wonderful news... now where did I put that Kleenex box?

Posted by: ProphetJoe | Aug 6, 2009 4:10:56 PM

Just back from miluim, made my day!

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Aug 6, 2009 4:29:56 PM

Rahel: Sorry... I must go beat the resident designer for being so recalcitrant in coming up with an appropriate Klennex® Alert icon! :-)

ProphetJoe: Between the Kleenex used on this post, and the ones in action Monday night, I don't think Kimberly-Clark has to worry about this quarter's quota!

QuietusLeo: I feel a bit like Dorothy telling the lion that she'll miss him most of all, but the truth is, I thought about you both at the wedding and while writing this post. If it hadn't been for the talented and dedicated team of medical personnel fighting on Elroi Refael's behalf, this story could have never been written! (And as a super-duper bonus, the von-Treppenwitzs have been blessed with the friendship of the von-Sandmans, too!)

Posted by: zahava | Aug 6, 2009 8:14:48 PM

I agree that our friendship is both blessed and a bonus.
As for the medical personnel, we were only doing our job.
It is written in Deuteronomy 8:18 -
וזכרת את יהוה אלוהיך כי הוא נותן לך כח לעשות חיל
My (very) rough translation:
Remember the Lord your G-d, for He gives you the strength to succeed greatly...

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Aug 7, 2009 7:41:33 AM

I am Chaviva's Aunt and I want to thank you for writing this beautiful article about their wedding. Their story is a miracle. And knowing what they had been through to get to this point made their wedding so special. They are two wonderful people and deserve all the happiness in the world.

Posted by: rosalyn mamlak | Aug 21, 2009 2:56:25 PM

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