Fifty couples from the North were married Monday night in a mass wedding ceremony at Tel Aviv's Old Port.
"This is the first time in Jewish history an event like this has happened," said Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who supervised the ceremony.
Livnat Halel, who lives near Kiryat Shmona, planned to be married on Tu Be'av in Tiberias. She and her fiancee, Dror Buchnik, paid for their 600-guest wedding a year in advance. When their wedding hall was bombed they were devastated.
"Until last month I was a normal person," Livnat said. "I didn't know what is a war, what is a missile or what is a Katyusha."
After hearing about the plight of civilians in the North on a television show, producer Eliran Bardougo organized the event in 21 days, interviewing 300 couples and picking 50. Israeli companies donated NIS 10 million for the wedding - to cover the cost of the hangar where the reception was held, the wedding gowns and everything in between.
The brides and grooms weren't the only ones given attention. Exotic dancers entertained the wedding guests and free massages were available.
The Buchniks were very grateful for the generosity they received.
"It's not what I planned, but it's a very good solution," Livnat said.
Wedding canopies lined the marina boardwalk. While the ceremony was held simultaneously, each couple had their own rabbi officiate. Each couple was allowed to invite 100 guests.
The mass wedding received worldwide media coverage, including a live Internet feed and a representative from the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Buchniks had to cancel their honeymoon, as Dror, a firefighter with the Safed Fire and Rescue Services, had to return to work the day after the wedding.
"I didn't see Dror for two and a half weeks," Livnat said. "It was terrible. If I wanted to see if Dror was alive I had to turn on the TV."
Livnat was happy to be part of the mass wedding, but wished her special day could have gone as originally planned.
"I told all my friends, so I'm famous now. But I wish to have my small wedding with my wedding dress," she said.
A string quartet greeted the thousands who gathered on the boardwalk to witness the ceremony. The sound of 50 glasses being smashed simultaneously under the huppa raised the joy to the highest level.
Metzger said Hizbullah had wanted to destroy Jewish homes, but these couples were building them instead.
"It was a very exciting moment, a real answer to our enemies," he said. "All the broken glass will be the biggest bomb that we send Nasrallah. It is a bomb of happiness against hatred."
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