The Israel Defense Forces approved Itamar residents to hold a wedding at Joseph's Tomb near Nablus on Wednesday, for the first time since the tomb was evacuated by Israeli forces in October 2000.
The rare approval was given as a gesture of good faith to the residents of the West Bank settlement, in the wake of a deadly stabbing attack last week.
Last Friday, Itamar's Fogel family - father Udi, 37, mother Ruth, 36, 10-year-old Yoav, four-year-old Elad, and three-month-old Hadas - were all stabbed to death in their home.
Two other children in the house at the time were not hurt in the attack.
Originally, Wednesday's wedding was to take place at Itamar, only to be moved to Joseph's tomb upon the residents' request. At first, the IDF only approved special entrance into Nablus, forbidding to conduct a wedding there; eventually, however, the army authorized the wedding as well.
The commander of the Samaria brigade, Colonel Nimrod Aloni, attended the wedding and was also mentioned in one of the wedding's blessings.
Speaking at the event, the head of the Samaria regional council Gershon Mesika said that "this wedding of an Itamar resident here in Joseph's Tomb on this week is literally as the prophet [Ezekiel] said: 'When thou wast in thy blood, Live.'"
"We will all be strengthened by this occasion, residents of Itamar, the Samaria settlement, and the entire people of Israel, we will pick up the pieces and grow stronger," Mesika said.
The head of the Samaria council went on to say that the occasion was a manifestation of the psalm "Shake thyself from the dust; arise," adding that he hoped for "many happy occasions, the construction of the Land of Israel, and pray with everyone that the people of Israel make a full return to Joseph's Tomb."
Samaria's chief rabbi, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, read parts of Jeremiah's prophecy concerning the weeping of Rachel, Joseph's mother, at the time of Israel's exodus to exile: "Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not."
"Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy."
Although the wedding was an occasion for celebration, many Itamar residents are still reeling from the aftershock of the Fogels' death. Udi Fogel, affectionately known as "Rabbi Udi", is sorely missed by his students who do not seek a "price tag" or revenge for their mentor's death.
"These people don't go out and demonstrate, that's not their style," says Yohanan Goldin, a 24-year-old sixth-year yeshiva student. Goldin was close to Fogel, and was part of the community security team that was called in to find that Fogel was killed.
"'Price tags" are not the way of the yeshiva," he said.
Goldin's friend, fifth-year yeshiva student Itamar Brooker, says, "Anger does not interest us, people aren't hung up on that. There is pain, there is shock, but not anger. Personally, I still haven’t taken it in. A family has been stabbed to death, it will take time to register."
Brooker says, "Normal people don't go to demonstrations. These people are delegitimized, even demonized, especially those living on the hilltop, as if they are extremists."
"People who know us ask us why we've come to study with all the crazies, but that's rubbish. There is an extremist group in the area, they are reactionary, and their photographs are always printed in the papers," Brooker adds. "But understand: 'price tag,' demonstrations, it's not even a part of our lexicon. Never has been, never will be."
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