Contact Us

How a Wounded Israeli Soldier Met and Married a New York School Teacher

How a Wounded Israeli Soldier Met and Married a New York School Teacher

The wedding of Sarah and Ido Kahlon started with an act of kindness

 Email
Rabbi Uriel Vigler, right, officiates at the Nov. 5 wedding of Sarah Morgan and Ido Kahlon in Hadera, Israel.
Rabbi Uriel Vigler, right, officiates at the Nov. 5 wedding of Sarah Morgan and Ido Kahlon in Hadera, Israel.

Everyone loves a wedding story. Especially when the couple is young. When they come from different continents. And when they have had to deal with real hardship, even before they start their lives together.

I just got back from Israel where I traveled to officiate at the wedding of a very special couple: Sarah and Ido.

I met Ido Kahlon last year when he came to New York with fellow wounded Israeli soldiers as part of the Belev Echad program, which offers recovering members of the Israel Defense Forces a trip and time with members of the New York Jewish community as a respite from their recuperative work back home. (Other groups have gone to Canada as well.) Ido served in the Golani Brigade and was severely injured in 2003. He lay unconscious for months; when he woke, he required more than two years of intensive rehab.

I was first introduced to Sarah Morgan in 2006 at the Chabad Jewish Center of Chester County, Pa., where we were spending a holiday with my brother-in-law and his wife, Rabbi Yossi and Tickey Kaplan. Sarah’s mother, Diane Hewitt, who lived nearby, had been participating in Chabad activities; she and Sarah started attending events, Jewish holiday programs and classes there.

Soon after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Sarah moved to New York City, winding up on the Upper East Side, where my wife, Shevy, and I co-direct the Chabad Israel Center (and started Belev Echad in 2009).

The groom lifts the bride’s veil.
The groom lifts the bride’s veil.

She was in the process of furthering her education at Hunter College, becoming an elementary-school teacher in the New York public-school system. She also began attending our events and volunteering with groups of visiting soldiers.

On one occasion, a soldier had a medical emergency, and I needed someone to accompany him to a local hospital. Who did I call? Sarah, of course, who dropped everything and came running.

When we hosted a delegation of wounded soldiers in March 2016, Sarah offered to take a day off work to help. She joined us on a trip to the Statue of Liberty; it was there that she first met Ido.

Days later, Ido spoke about his injuries and recovery at one of our events. He described the many difficulties and continuing challenges, emphasizing his choice not to let the trauma he endured overcome him. Sarah listened, captivated by his strength and optimism. They spent much of the remainder of the trip together.

As they say, the rest is history.

From left: Brothers-in-law Vigler, Rabbi Moshe Schapiro and Rabbi Yossi Kaplan
From left: Brothers-in-law Vigler, Rabbi Moshe Schapiro and Rabbi Yossi Kaplan

A Dream Come True

Sarah went to Israel to visit him. He came back to the United States to get to know her mother and friends. In January, Sarah made aliyah. Her mother plans to do the same; her plane ticket’s booked for Dec. 26.

Diane is also deeply involved with Belev Echad; in fact, she helped plan a reunion dinner in Israel in April 2016. She notes that “somewhere in there while doing what she loved, Sarah found her other half, her bashert. It’s indescribable how close and how quickly you get to each member in each new group. We love these soldiers; they feel that and return it ten-fold. It has always been hard to say good-bye when they leave New York for Israel. Now I won’t have to!”

I was honored to officiate at their Nov. 5 wedding in Hadera, along with my brother-in-law, Rabbi Kaplan, and my other brother-in-law, Rabbi Moshe Schapiro. He and his wife, Shaindel, runs Chabad Lubavitch of Hoboken, N.J., where Diane has attended the past five years since returning to a job in New York City and relocating to New Jersey. (Our wives—sisters Tickey, Shevy and Shaindel—have formed an indelible bond with Sarah and Diane that has shifted from three states and now all the way to Israel.)

Tickey Kaplan, center, and mother of the bride Diane Hewitt (Shevy Vigler and Shaindel Schapiro could not attend). At left is Kaplan's daughter, Miriam, who is studying in Israel.
Tickey Kaplan, center, and mother of the bride Diane Hewitt (Shevy Vigler and Shaindel Schapiro could not attend). At left is Kaplan's daughter, Miriam, who is studying in Israel.

Sarah’s friends flew in from around the world to be at the wedding. More than 300 people attended, including Ido’s doctor, Elchanan Bruckheimer, who treated him on the evacuation helicopter and worked to save his life.

Ido’s father, especially, was choked with emotion and gratitude for the opportunity to see his son not only alive after being so severely wounded, but standing under the chuppah with a wonderful woman like Sarah. It was a dream come true for them all.

Our sages teach that when a person gives, he or she receives much more in return. Sarah’s story of voluntarism, chesed (“lovingkindness”) and ahavat Yisrael (“love of a fellow Jew”) demonstrates just that. For years, she volunteered with wounded Jewish soldiers who needed companionship and support, and through this found her life partner.

We wish the couple, and their families, a continued journey of loving and learning. And to Sarah, 34, and Ido Kahlon, 33, blessings for health, happiness, children and success in all their endeavors. Mazal tov!

Sarah at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel, to assist Belev Echad soldiers back in February 2015. She visited Israel several times before coming specifically to see Ido.
Sarah at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel, to assist Belev Echad soldiers back in February 2015. She visited Israel several times before coming specifically to see Ido.
The Belev Echad group, March 2016. Ido Kahlon is standing at far right.
The Belev Echad group, March 2016. Ido Kahlon is standing at far right.
Sarah joined the group on a trip to the Statue of Liberty in March 2016. Ido is standing in the top row, third from right.
Sarah joined the group on a trip to the Statue of Liberty in March 2016. Ido is standing in the top row, third from right.
Sarah at the airport in January, on the way to making aliyah.
Sarah at the airport in January, on the way to making aliyah.
Mother and daughter, pictured in New York City, will both be living in Israel by year’s end.
Mother and daughter, pictured in New York City, will both be living in Israel by year’s end.


© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1 Comment
1000 characters remaining
Nozomu Suzuki North York November 20, 2017

Jews are blessed people indeed! Reply

Connect with us
RSS
In the Media
Find A Chabad Center Near You
Chabad-Lubavitch Directory