'Next Year in Rebuilt Homesh'
Before their wedding on the ruins of Homesh in northern Samaria on Tuesday, Moshe Yehuda Shwartz and Bilhah Mandelkorn on Monday met Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) and Coalition Chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu).
Prior to their marriage, Shwartz and Mandelkorn lived in the Samarian communities of Psagot and Shiloh respectively. They were among the leading activists struggling against the expulsion of Jews from Homesh, one of four Jewish towns in Samaria destroyed in the 2005 "Disengagement" plan that expelled all Jews from Gaza and several communities in northern Samaria.
Ariel gave the young couple the "priestly blessing," and added "Homesh will be rebuilt and reconstructed soon in our days, this young couple that will get married in Homesh is building a stone in the walls of Jerusalem, from Jerusalem to Homesh, and from Homesh to Jerusalem."
The minister concluded with the words from the Jewish daily prayers, "and may our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy," adding "Homesh" after Zion.
Levin added his blessings to the couple, saying "I wish you a happy life, and joyous wedding. They chose the best place to hold the wedding and I am sure that in Homesh not only weddings but full Jewish lives will also be conducted. G-d willing we'll reach a point when all the land of Israel is in our hands as it must be."
Last September, Palestinian Authority (PA) Arabs were given permission to enter Homesh and proceeded to scrawl graffiti, and unfurl PLO flags and anti-Semitic banners at the site. In response, Jewish activists returned to the site to clean up the graffiti to the town's water tower.
The couple explained that they decided to hold their wedding on the ruins of Homesh "out of a longing to build our private home in combination with the building of the land, and in support of the Homesh Yeshiva."
Despite the destruction of Homesh, a group of students and rabbis have set up a small yeshiva at the site, to maintain a Jewish presence there.
800 people are anticipated to attend the wedding, including Ariel and Deputy Religious Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan.
The sentiment mirrors the words spoken by Efrat Leshem, the bride who on her wedding day last Wednesday visited the Women in Green week-long vigil in front of the Prime Minister's Residence, demanding sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. "Before I build my private home, I must also do something for my nation and for my land," declared Leshem.
Last November, a former resident of Homesh, Limor Har Melech-Son, whose husband was murdered in a terrorist attack, returned to have a brit milah (ritual circumcision) performed for the son of her second marriage in a moving ceremony.