|Chaim Harrari is lifted in a chair as Rabbi Arie Zeev Raskin, third from left, and others celebrate his Cypriot wedding.|
Jan 1, 2008
A series of providential occurrences culminated last month in a traditional Jewish wedding on the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus.
Every year, many Israelis make the short trip by air to Cyprus in order to elope and circumvent their country's legal sanctions on weddings that stipulate that all marital unions occur according to the dictates of Jewish law.
But according to presiding Rabbi Arie Zeev Raskin, director of the Cyprus Jewish Community Centre in Larnaca, the Nov. 29 wedding of Chaim and Segal Harrari was the country's first-ever traditional ceremony – adhering to all of Judaism's strictures – that he knows of. He bought the chuppah used for the wedding just six month ago, although he had no idea it would ever be used.
"I bought it just in case," he revealed.
A Chabad House regular in Larnaca, businessman Chaim Harari met his bride during a visit to Israel. Right before then, he said, he had a quiet moment with G‑d on the occasion of his first marriage's dissolution.
Standing by his house along the water, Harari implored G‑d to help him find another mate, because it was "impossible" to find Jewish women in Cyprus.
"What do you want? That I should marry a non-Jew?" he said he challenged G‑d that day.
On the advice of his friend, he went to Israel and "met someone I felt was a friend I hadn't seen for 30 years, a life partner." She was divorced, as well.
A year later, he proposed and in the course of telling Raskin the good news, the rabbi suggested a date two months from then.
"They closed the circle at the Chabad House," remarked Raskin, who taught the groom the laws of family purity, while his wife Shaindel taught the bride.
Chaim Harari insists without a doubt that he is "a believing man," and saw special importance in the date of his recent wedding: It occurred on the 19th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, the day that the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, was released from prison. Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidim all over the globe celebrate the day as a joyous holiday.
At the ceremony, a visiting Israeli couple who just happened to be in the area walked the bride and groom down the aisle after they revealed that the male of the pair was descended from a line of Jewish priests known as kohanim. Fifty other guests watched the wedding take place just outside of the Chabad House.
"In my dream of dreams, I could never have imagined such a wedding, a Jewish wedding according to the tradition of Moses," said Harari.
Chaim and Segal Harari now live in the Israeli suburb of Ramat Gan with her two sons, aged 8 and 10. His three children live not too far away with their mother.
"We have a big family," he said proudly. "We had to buy a car with seven seats!"