Ilan Koren, an events manager at a wedding hall near Petah Tikvah, woke up Tuesday morning to the news that hundreds of rockets had been fired at Israel in the wake of an IDF pre-dawn strike on renowned Islamic Jihad terror chief, Baha Abu al-Ata in the Gaza Strip.

Until the recent ceasefire, over 450 rockets were fired indiscriminately at southern Israeli towns and cities.

Ilan told Aish.com, “The fall out meant schools and businesses were closed and many weddings as well as other big events had been cancelled.

“There was a news report I watched that included a bride heartbroken about what had happened. I couldn’t sit by and watch weddings be cancelled when I thought there was something I could do about it.”

Within moments, he was on a call with Moran Nizrad and Yaniv Kahlon a young couple set to get married at the Telya events venue that night with a question he had never asked before.

Will you share your wedding?

“I explained the situation in the south and asked whether they would consider sharing their wedding with a couple from the south? They answered together and immediately ‘yes.’”

“They are wonderful people. I had got to know them during the arrangements and preparations, and I felt immediately that they would also want to help.”

With its capacity for 700 guests, and the Nizrad Kahlon wedding party numbering around 300, the venue owners, who have asked to remain anonymous, agreed immediately to pay for all of the added costs.

Two wedding parties who had never met united for a joint celebration.

Koren’s plan would mean that although Telya would arrange a separate site for the second chuppah (ceremony) Moran and Yaniv would share the band, dance floor and banqueting area with the other couple. It would be two wedding parties who had never met, uniting for a joint celebration.

Just very happy to help

When media took hold of the story, a flurry of requests came in and it was up to Moran and Yaniv to choose the couple they felt would best fit in with their own guests.

“We were so happy with the idea,” Yaniv and Moran said. “When Ilan asked us, we didn’t hesitate. We were just very happy to do something to help.”

A couple from Sderot, one of the towns closest to the Gaza Strip and often in the firing line of rocket and mortar fire, were chosen and quickly got to work, letting their guests know of the change of venue.

Round the clock preparation

Even for a large events venue, organizing double the amount of food, drink, and waiting staff was a huge task, but Ilan says it was well worth it. “I probably lost 9 pounds that day,” he smiled, “But I have 15 years of experience in this business, so we knew if we really wanted to, we would get everything done in time.”

A convoy of buses arrived at the venue as the second couple arrived. It was such a wonderful atmosphere. They brought their rabbi, their guests and all of their simcha, (joy) and it was a very special night.

“The day had been a roller coaster for the second couple. They had been shocked, in tears, and then racing to rearrange everything and find buses to bring their friends and family. When they arrived it was incredible, they were so grateful.”

"The two couples got on so well,” he added. “They were both so excited, they danced together, it was a wonderful occasion and I am sure they made a lifelong friendship that night.”

“No logic, it was pure emotion”

The cost of the additional wedding ran into the tens of thousands of shekels, although Ilan says it was not a factor for the owners. “The residents in the south have been suffering under rocket fire like this for well over ten years. The owners said there was no way they were going to take their money.

“There was no logic in any of his thinking, it was pure emotion. Here in Israel it’s true we fight a lot about politics, about religion, left and right, religious, secular, but eventually when it comes down to it there is nothing we wouldn’t do for each other.

“I have since heard that many other wedding halls in the center of the country also responded the same way that we did. This is what it means to be family.”