Wedding in the shadow of war: 'Life triumphs - even in moments like these'

The bride Omer Padan says Itay asked her if she wanted to marry him today, and she immediately shouted yes!; The ceremony took place in the gathering grounds of Itay's IDF unit near the Gaza Strip

Gal Ganot|

Omer Padan and Itay Schwartzstein tie the knot

Omer Padan and Itay Schwartzstein were scheduled to get married on Friday in a wedding they had meticulously planned in the Hefer Valley. However, the war and the fact Itay was called to reservist duty reshuffled their plans. Instead of tying the knot as originally intended, they relocated their wedding to Itay's unit's gathering area near the Gaza Strip.
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"We were supposed to have our wedding today, in the Hefer Valley. We had invited around 300 guests. It was only on Saturday evening that I realized we had to postpone the wedding. Early Sunday morning, I contacted our suppliers to postpone, and we sent out notifications to all our guests. Itay, my soon-to-be husband, was called up for reserve duty on Shabbat, serving as a combat soldier in the IDF. Until not too long ago, I too served as an active reservist, as a commander in his unit."
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עומר פדן ואיתי שוורצשטיין
עומר פדן ואיתי שוורצשטיין
Omer Padan and Itay Schwartzstein
The idea, which initially seemed entirely far-fetched, was suggested by Ariel Mann, a commander in Itay's unit in the reserves. "Initially, they thought about celebrating for Itay alone, but they quickly realized that it was impossible to celebrate without the bride. That's when Itay called me, while I was on my way to the funeral of two brothers who fell in battle, and he asked me if I wanted to marry him today, with a few changes," Omer recounts.
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עומר פדן ואיתי שוורצשטיין
עומר פדן ואיתי שוורצשטיין
Omer Padan and Itay Schwartzstein with their families
She recounted that she immediately responded with enthusiasm. "I shouted 'yes' to him! It was clear to me that this is what we should do in such challenging moments. I arrived at the gathering area where Itay serves, wearing the wedding gown that my mother wore on her parents' wedding day. I decided to save my own wedding dress for a celebration once things calm down. Our best man was the one who initially came up with the idea."
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עומר פדן ואיתי שוורצשטיין
עומר פדן ואיתי שוורצשטיין
Omer Padan and Itay Schwartzstein
"At the wedding, I spoke with close friends who served valiantly in the military, and they told me that the wedding we spontaneously arranged at the gathering area today became a shining beacon for them. My younger brother is a soldier in Golani, serving in Gaza, and my father is a pilot for El Al, flying home reservists who join the fight. My message is that life simply triumphs - even in moments like these."
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