It is said that ever since G‑d
created the world, He has been kept busy making shidduchim, making marriages.
And that making a good match is as hard as the splitting of the Red Sea. Forty days before a child is born a voice is
heard: this person is destined for that one. Somehow our bashert, the person
destined for us, waits for us. But that doesn't mean we find him.
Gila and Ben found each other. And on
the day of their wedding, each went to visit Yosef Goodman's grave in order to
thank him. Ben left the wedding invitation at the grave.
It was Yosef who was their
But this time something went terribly wrongYosef had been in Maglan, an elite
combat unit of the paratroopers of the Israeli army. Yosef enjoyed the
freedom and excitement of parachuting. Even on the day of his accident, his
friends told Yosef's mother that as he was jumping, he was happy and shouting.
He, together with four others who were the best guys in the unit, was doing
special training jumps. But this time – his 36th jump – something
went terribly wrong. His commander's leg became entangled in the rope of
Yosef's parachute. They started to spin quickly in circles. Yosef
tried to save them both by cutting himself free from his parachute while
opening up his emergency parachute. The commander landed safely.
Yosef's emergency parachute was released but he was too close to the ground for
it to fully open.
Yosef Goodman died on February 2,
2006. He was 20.
The second of 9 children, Yosef was
a generous, well-loved person, fun loving and full of life, not afraid of
anything. He was a loving brother. When his older brother wanted to spend his
time learning in yeshiva, Yosef's parents asked the other children if they
would be willing to help support him in the future if they were working and
their brother was still learning. Yosef was the first son to say yes, he would
help support his brother if he needed assistance. In fact, he changed his army
insurance policy a month before he died, naming that brother as the beneficiary
instead of his parents. Now his older brother, studying in yeshiva and married,
is using Yosef's gift to support his family.
Yosef's parents, Ann and Mordechai
Goodman, are immigrants from the States; Mordechai grew up in Texas,
Ann in New York.
Anne trained as a lawyer; Mordechai is the owner of Pizzeria Efrat, famous for
its wonderful pizza and Ben & Jerry's ice cream. If you go to the pizza
place, you often see the kids working there. Yosef put in many hours baking
pies and delivering pizza. He was tall and lean, good-looking, and he loved to
Gila Wolbromsky lives a few houses
away from Yosef's family. Gila's younger brother was Yosef's good friend. They
grew up together; all their childhood stories are shared ones.
She didn't think that he was serious One Friday afternoon, when Yosef
came home from the army for Shabbat, he went over to Gila's house and told her
that he wanted to set her up with his former commander, Ben Berdichev. Though
Ben had completed his army service, he and Yosef still spoke often on the phone
and had a very close relationship.
When Yosef told Gila about wanting
to set her up, she didn't think that he was serious. She was already
dating somebody and she didn't think much about the suggestion.
Two and half weeks later Yosef died
in the parachuting accident. Gila's last conversation with Yosef had been about
The day he died, Yosef called Ben.
"Did you call her yet?" he asked. Ben said: "We'll speak about it later." He
wasn't planning on calling. He was going to Australia to work at a Jewish day
school and he didn't think it made sense to try to begin a new relationship
when he was leaving. But Yosef insisted, and Ben promised he would call.
But Ben didn't call.
After Yosef was killed, during the
week of shiva, Ben spent a lot of time at the Goodman house. He wanted to be
there, to grieve and to talk about Yosef. Gila saw him there, but she had no
idea that he was the commander that Yosef had been talking about.
But he heard her name there, and
knew who she was.
"The last day of the shiva, Ben
came over to me and apologized to me. I didn't know why. But then I
realized that he was Ben. Yosef had been serious and he had given Ben my number
and made him promise to call me," Gila said.
"You have nothing to apologize
about," she told him.
"I promised Yosef I would call."
That was the beginning of their
relationship. They kept on meeting, even though they are very different and Ben
was soon to leave for his trip to Australia. Gila grew up in an
observant home, Ben's family was not religiously observant. Gila didn't know why Yosef had
put them together.
They started seeing each other and
when Ben went to Australia,
after six months, Gila went to visit him. Ben returned from Australia early, after ten months,
because he wanted to be with Gila.
Once they were dating, they told
the Goodman family about their relationship. Ben and Gila worried because they
felt that in some way they were an extension of Yosef. If they broke up, would
it be a blow to the Goodman family? But Ann and Mordechai told them to feel
free to do whatever they needed. Not to feel any pressure.
Soon they were making plans to be
married. "Our wedding was in October. The wedding was meant to be outdoors but
during the reception there was a dramatic rainstorm with thunder and
lightening, and the wedding was moved indoors at the last minute, with the
guests' help. The night Yosef died had also been a rainy night with thunder and
lightning. We felt that Yosef was dancing with us," says Gila.
Mordecahi, Yosef's father, was
honored with a blessing under the chupah. He said, "I am saying this blessing instead
of your matchmaker, Yosef."
Ann Goodman says, "When they got
married it was almost two years after Yosef died, and it was a wonderful
feeling: I felt that I was still getting nachat, pleasure, from Yosef."
Both Ben and Gila feel privileged
to have Yosef play such an important role in their lives. They know that their
marriage is truly a match blessed in heaven.