Ari Steinberg and now-wife Rachel stand underneath the Chuppah waiting to be married at the 2017 Maccabiah Games..
(photo credit: KAYLA STEINBERG)
The 20th Maccabiah Games opening ceremony felt like a bit of a fairy tale, with lights, cheering, and dancing—but this fairy tale came true for Canadian ice hockey player Avi Steinberg, who proposed to his girlfriend Rachel at the ceremony, and then married her minutes later.
The opening ceremony’s hosts called Steinberg to the stage for a “special surprise.” He was then joined by his girlfriend Rachel, and he praised her for completing her 1.5 year Jewish conversion process that day. Rachel had just arrived in Israel, and she was able to experience her first day in the Holy Land as a Jew. She had no idea about the “special surprise” that was to happen that night.
Steinberg shared with Rachel how much their four-year relationship had meant to him, anticipation in the crowd building. He then popped the question, much to the delight of the tens of thousands of spectators, and his girlfriend, who immediately replied, “Yes!”
The “special surprise” was not over. The host repeatedly asked Rachel if she was ready to marry Avi (which, she said, she was) and then told her to close her eyes. When she opened them, she saw a wedding dress and a glam team, who took her and Avi backstage.
Minutes later, after a chuppah had been set up onstage, accompanied by the couple’s rabbi from Canada and bridesmaids, Avi and Rachel returned for their wedding. Surrounded by Jews from all over the world, the couple stood under the chuppah for some speedy prayers from the rabbi. The couple exchanged rings, and then, finally, the groom broke the glass, making their Jewish marriage official and remembering the destruction of the second Temple.
As the married couple headed backstage, Israeli singer Omer Adam rocked Teddy Stadium with his hit “Mahapecha Shel Simcha,” the crowd dancing along and celebrating their marriage.