In January 2013, much to the joy of her family and community, Elisheva Chai, widow of Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai, z’l, married Gil Efrati, at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel.
On December 24, 2009 Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai was murdered by terrorists as he drove home from teaching in Shavei Shomron. Terrorists opened fire on his car – shooting him 10 times in the head. Meir was mortally wounded and died a few minutes later.
He was a beloved Torah teacher in his community and surrounding area, and left behind a young wife, Elisheva and their seven children, ages 16 years to 2 months.
Their lives shattered – Elisheva did not even have a driver’s license or sufficient income to take care of her family. The loss was overwhelming and the thought of daily life became a struggle. During the week of Shiva, they met with caseworkers and volunteers from OneFamily. Through the daily and constant help of OneFamily, Elisheva and the children have been able to rebuild their lives and move forward on their journey through tragedy and trauma.
“Immediately after the murder, Elisheva decided to take responsibility for her life,” shared Nava Formanski, OneFamily Central Israel Coordinator “Elisheva brought her children to our OneFamily Bayit Cham Center at least a couple of times a week. They received weekly grief counseling, art therapy, and general practical assistance on every level. We truly have become family to each other – and couldn’t be any happier for Elisheva that they are getting a new start in life.”
Minutes before the marriage ceremony, Elisheva turned to her friend and said, “I never thought I’d reach this day… I thought I’ll always remain a widow. I had a connection with Meir and it was clear to me I’ll stay with him forever.
Eliyahu, now 19, is the oldest of the Chai children. As an orphan, he is exempt from army service – however, he voluntarily enlisted and is now serving in Golani. His brother, El-Natan, 17, plans to enlist this summer. Eli-Yoseph (15), Eliraz (11), Shira (9), Ayala (5), and little Nachman (3) are all studying locally and participate in OneFamily youth activities on a regular basis.
Each child’s counselor was at the wedding and working with each child throughout the evening. The day was bittersweet for the children — seven children, danced with their new stepfather, were laughing, smiling, and celebrating for their mother.tremendous joy with many memories of their father z”l. Despite emotions of the day, Elisheva’s
The bride and groom met through Yishpeh, a non-profit organization that assists religious couples in finding their soul-mate. Elisheva was volunteering as a matchmaker when Gil’s name was suggested for her. She wasn’t ready to even think about dating, and did not pursue the matter.
Several months later, Elisheva was assigned Gil’s name as a client, to find him a match, and she did arrange for him to meet another woman – when her friend and fellow volunteer encouraged her to meet Gil herself! With the persistent encouragement from her friend and OneFamily she finally agreed to meet Gil. They immediately found a connection.
The happy groom was at a loss for words: “I’m of course very excited. It’s not like in fairytales and in the movies, we share an amazing connection, me and Elisheva and also me and the kids. It’s of course a complex situation, but the main thing is our happiness and our connection.”
The groom, Gil Efrati, is a quiet, kind, 50 year old from Jerusalem. He became observant in his 30s and had never been married. He recently left his job of many years as a truant officer for the City of Jerusalem, working with at-risk youth and their families to help them get back on track. He will now seek employment closer to the family home in Shavei Shomron – so that he can be as supportive as possible to his new family.
Among the ministers and public officials who attended the wedding was the head of the Samaria Council, who told the couple: “This event, beyond being extremely moving, also illustrates the expression “Am Yisrael Hai” (The nation of Israel lives). Elisheva, Gil and the children are showing Jewish bravery and give a message of strength to the whole nation of Israel.”