How Hannah met Shaul

 “One of the best things is to grow old together,” says Hannah Tour, 84. Her 92 year-old husband, Shaul Gutwillig, agrees. “It’s not good to grow old alone.”
Shaul and Hannah met in the early 90’s in the library of the United Kibbutz Movement in Ramat Gan (outside of Tel Aviv). After fleeing Czechoslovakia in the 40’s, Shaul settled on Kibbutz Metzova in the Western Galilee in Northern Israel.
Hannah, a sabra (native-born Israeli), was a diehard Tel Aviv resident, who would go to the library to research material for her Master’s Degree from Tel Aviv University. She and Shaul met in the Department of Medieval History, where Shaul worked two days a week. “I initiated the conversation,” admits Hannah, and soon they were going out to restaurants, theater and opera. “Still, there was no romantic interest at the beginning.”
After several years of friendship, the relationship began to evolve. When Shaul, an electrician, fell off a ladder and was housebound, his sister invited Hannah to come and visit. Hannah recalls: “When I walked into the house and saw his room full of books, Shaul’s fate was decided. I can’t stand people who are not literate.”
She was in her early 60’s and a second time widow. Hannah reflects: “I was thinking about re-marrying and had put some ads in the newspaper. This was before the Internet,” she smiles. Shaul’s first wife died and he divorced his second wife. “She didn’t like to read books.”
Shaul and Hannah soon became a couple, but he continued to live on his kibbutz, and she in Tel Aviv. Finally, she gave him an ultimatum – either break up or move in together. For over 50 years, Shaul had lived on the kibbutz, and it wasn’t easy to leave. But he finally agreed and moved in with Hannah in Tel Aviv.
CNBC explored the subject of why older couples are living together, but skipping marriage. They noted: “Concerns about debt, benefits, taxes and cash flow are some of the primary reasons they decide not to walk down the aisle.”
“It was just the opposite for us,” says Hannah. “We decided to get married because of money issues - specifically, pension benefits.”
After 20-some years of dating and living together, Shaul and Hannah went to the Israeli Rabbinate to be wed.
They were faced with two problems. Hannah describes: “The rabbis considered me a “lethal woman.” The term,
isha katlanit ,appears in the Talmud to describe a woman who has become a widow twice, and marrying her carries the risk that her next husband may also die. “I wasn’t worried,” says Shaul. And Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who was then the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, intervened on her behalf.
The second problem concerned the wedding ring. According to, this is the correct procedure: the rabbi must show the ring to two witnesses to ascertain minimal value; and the rabbi asks the groom if the ring belonged to him and if it is of this minimal value.
However, Shaul had not brought a ring with him to the ceremony. When Hannah offered her own ring, the rabbi agreed, only if Shaul would pay Hannah ten shekels for it. But Shaul didn’t have ten shekels. In the end, the rabbi loaned Shaul ten shekels and the marriage was sanctified.
The couple currently lives in a senior citizens home in Holon, Israel. Until 120!
Photo: courtesy