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Perez family defies despair with wartime wedding



It was a wedding ceremony like no other, at a time like never before. For a moment, all pain and anguish were set aside as a Jewish couple came together in unity amidst the turmoil of a war-torn nation.

The head of World Mizrachi, Johannesburg born and raised Rabbi Doron Perez and his wife, Shelley, cried tears of joy and sorrow during the moving marriage ceremony of their oldest son, Yonatan Tzvi, to Galya Landau in Israel this week.

Yonatan is still recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg sustained during battle against Hamas terrorists. His younger brother, Daniel, 22, is missing in action near Gaza and the family hasn’t had any word from him since he went missing on Shabbat on 7 October.

Daniel’s absence was felt deeply by everyone during the moving ceremony, which was livestreamed to hundreds of people far and wide as joy and happiness came together in a time of pain and distress.

There wasn’t a dry eye during the emotional performance of Vehi Sheamda, sang by none other than Yonatan Razel, the world renowned, New York-born Israeli musician. The song is a traditional Hebrew song sung on Passover about the survival of the Jewish people against all odds.

Reservists and close friends of the groom dressed in casual attire with their rifles draped across their bodies swayed to the music and later danced the horas with vigour and simcha.

Speeches during the ceremony were all delivered in Hebrew to the largely Israeli crowd.

Addressing the couple, one attendee said, “We’re in the abyss. No-one can digest what we’ve been through over the past few days. We know that G-d’s spirit hovers over the surface of the water, that in this abyss, there’s someone who takes care of everything. What heroes! Tonight, we’re founding a new family, and that’s the biggest revenge of all.”

Speaking as if Daniel were present, he said, “Daniel, dearly beloved, who knows that today is the wedding, we all know that he cannot be here today. Bezrat Hashem he will return to celebrate a huge party together with the bride and groom. I’m certain that wherever he is, he’s happy together with us.”

Another spoke about how the nation was busy creating a new holiday, “a holiday month of heroism, a month of unity, a month of bravery and co-operation”.

The wedding was a poignant moment of solace as guests temporarily set aside their grief and anguish to celebrate the union of the young and beautiful couple. This bittersweet respite came in the wake of agonising days following the harrowing terrorist attacks that has ravaged the holy land.

As the country held its collective breath, anxiously awaiting news of missing loved ones amidst the backdrop of death, destruction, hostage situations, kidnapping, and chaos, the joy and hope that radiated from this extraordinary wedding was nothing short of breathtaking.

In the face of adversity, this courageous young couple bound themselves together for life, defying the darkness that enveloped their nation. While the country mourned and struggled to find solace, their love and commitment stood as a testament to the indomitable spirit of humanity. In a time of despair, they symbolised the enduring power of love and resilience.

As alumni of Yeshiva College, a letter was sent out earlier this week inviting the community to share in the celebrations.

“This simcha is close to all our hearts,” the letter read. “As a son of our community and alumnus of Yeshiva College, Yonatan is a shining example of everything we strive for. Sharing in the simcha is an opportunity for a much-needed moment of joy and light in the face of the current darkness. It’s an opportunity for us all to show our love and support to the Perez family.”

Earlier this week, Perez messaged the community, “Words cannot express how appreciative we all are for the outpouring of love, support, care, tefillot, and mitzvot you are all doing in the name of all of the wounded, the missing, and our precious Daniel. The WhatsApp messages mean so much, even though we don’t always open and reply, we scroll down and see your name, and it’s like a huge hug. So please keep them coming.

“Please keep the photos, clips, messages etc of all the chesed and mitzvot going because when Daniel comes home along with each and every hostage, we want him to know what am Yisrael did to get him and all the hostages home.

“We want you all to continue to celebrate your birthdays, anniversaries, Batmitzvahs, Barmitzvahs, britot, engagements and weddings with enormous simcha.”

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