Planting Israeli Roots
Detroiters celebrate in Jerusalem at the wedding of couple who made aliyah.
SHELLI LIEBMAN DORFMAN
Holiday Of Love
hen former Detroiter Netanya Weiss
announced last December she would
be married in Jerusalem on Aug. 13,
her rabbi in West - Bloomfield immedi-
ately organized a unity mission to Israel, and the
wedding became part of the group's itinerary.
In the middle of the eight-day trip, 55 Detroiters,
including Weiss' friends and family and mission-
goers from Sara Tugman Bais Chabad Torah Center,
joined in the celebration as Weiss wed Jerusalem Post
political correspondent Gil Hoffman.
"It was truly wonderful that there was such a
large delegation of the shul family to share in the
simchah with Gil and Netanya," said Bais Chabad
Rabbi Elimelech Silberberg.
Ironically, the rabbi learned of the wedding
because he happened to be in Israel when the couple
became engaged. At the time, he and members of
the West Bloomfield-based mission he was leading
attended the couple's engagement party Jan. 4 held
in a hotel bomb shelter that doubled as a party
The bride's parents, Stuart and Helene Weiss of
West Bloomfield, were not part of that shul mission,
but arrived in Israel on very short notice so they
could be part of the surprise when Gil asked
Netanya to marry him.
The Weisses arrived in Israel earlier that week.
That day they met Hoffman for the first time, and
his parents, Itzhak and Yael Hoffman, who were vis-
iting from Chicago.
Weiss' parents steered clear of friends from their
synagogue, not wanting to leak the secret.
The next night, on New Year's Eve, Weiss and
Hoffman dined at Beit Ticho restaurant in
Jerusalem. "When it came to dessert, inside a fudgy
thing in a pastry shell, in a baggy buried under some
mousse, Netanya discovered a diamond engagement
ring," Stuart Weiss said. 'After Gil popped the ques-
tion and Netanya said yes, he signaled us with his
cell phone and we surprised her by showing up in
Izzy Weiss, 21, of West Bloomfield holds a corner of
the tallit over his sister Netanya, who is flanked by
her parents Stuart and Helene Weiss of West
Bloomfield. Netanya's new husband Gil Hoffman
sings to her; "IfI forget You, Jerusalem."
Jerusalem As Backdrop
Seven months after welcoming the new year with
their engagement, Weiss and Hoffman — who met
at a Purim party where she dressed as an angel and
he as a squirrel — were married outdoors at the Har
Tzion Hotel with a backdrop of the Old City of
"The setting of the wedding was just fantastic,
with a memorable view of Jerusalem," said Rabbi
Silberberg, who participated in the ceremony.
"Seeing Yerushalayim [Jerusalem] at sunset, we really
understood the phrase Terushalayim Shel Zahav,'
Jerusalem of Gold."
In addition to attending the wedding, the rabbi
described the entire trip to Israel as "a blessing on
many levels." In contrast to his December visit, he
said, this time "the hotels seemed to be full, the air-
port was bustling and gift shops in Yerushalayim
and Tzfat [Safed] were busy."
Time spent with "courageous inhabitants of
Chevron [Hebron] will remain etched in our memo-
ries forever," he said.
A significant moment in the trip was being able
to distribute $4,000 in donations to Israeli victims
The date of the Hoffman-Weiss wedding was chosen
to fall on the holiday of Tu b'Av, the 15th day of the
Hebrew month of Av. It is a day celebrated in mod-
ern Israel as the holiday of love, with the days preced-
ing it themed with hearts and sales of flowers.
In addition to American wedding guests were
those who traveled from as far as England and South
Africa. Hoffman, who holds a journalism degree from
Northwestern University in Chicago, invited friends
and co-workers, including Israeli politicians. His
guests included Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin,
Minister of Tourism Benyamin Elon and Social
Affairs Minister Zevulun Otlev.
The wedding also became a place for Detroiters to
meet future Bais Chabad members, Assi and Sharon
Tzobel, who were getting ready to move from Israel
to Detroit on behalf of Detroit Kollel Torah MiTzion.
They were invited, along with couples who had previ-
ously held Detroit-based positions with the Torah and
Zionism outreach group, and had returned to Israel.
Before leaving for home, Bais Chabad mission par-
ticipants hosted a dinner and sheva brachot (seven
wedding blessings) in honor of the couple. Other
receptions will be held in Chicago and Detroit this
month for those who could not attend the wedding.
Weiss, 22, a special education teacher and graduate
of Yeshivat Akiva in Southfield and the University of
Michigan, and Hoffman, 26, each made aliyah in the
last few years. They are now living in Jerusalem.
"Helene and I are thrilled that Netanya and Gil
found each other and that we will now have a legacy
in Eretz Yisrael [the land of Israel]," Stuart Weiss said.
'As a matter of fact, at the engagement, Rabbi
Silberberg commented that the matchmaker was
Eretz Yisrael, that each of them had come to Israel
independently out of their love for Israel."
For Netanya's mother Helene, the wedding was
"more than I have ever dreamed of. To merit the experi-
ence of bringing my daughter to the chuppah in Israel
and to be able to look around me and see my rabbis and
their wives, my family, my sister, nieces and nephews,
my best friends, my shul family and Jerusalem — all at
once — is better than a dream," she said. ❑