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It wasn’t long before living in the same building in Tzfat that everything fell into place for Sharon Rappaport (NBN 2015) and Ephraim Lewis (NBN 2014). They had heard of one another from friends who insisted they meet, they had been shown pictures of one another, and that is where this love story begins. Tzfat is known to be one of the most magical and mystical cities in Israel. Sharon talks about the experience of meeting Ephraim as “one miracle on top of another”. She is a G-d fearing woman who believes that this was not just a coincidence and that G-d really performed miracles which has led to a wonderful marriage.
“I came to Tzfat because my children and grandchildren live in Israel. They moved here because I taught them to love Israel. When I came, I didn’t want to be so dependent on them and Tzfat was a great place for me to hit the ground running. With an Anglo community, everything within walking distance, and many Jewish classes, I knew I could have a great life here,” explained Sharon. Ephraim had similar reasons for moving to Tzfat. He was looking to become more observant and Tzfat’s religious atmosphere, with many classes taught in English, made it an ideal community.
Sharon says, “I had been told about this gentleman from a few friends. I was interested but didn’t really think anything of it. But then he ended up moving into my building, into the apartment downstairs.”
Sharon was running out the door to head to Ulpan in a rush, which wasn’t out of the ordinary. As she left the apartment, she noticed a tall man standing outside, looking at the top of the building. She glanced at him, but since she was already late just continued down the street. But there was something about him; Sharon just couldn’t get him out of her mind. And then it clicked. She recognized him from Facebook! Her friends, who were intent on Sharon and Ephraim meeting, had shown her his picture.
Sharon faced a dilemma – continue to class or turn back and introduce herself? Her answer: “G-d is always in our lives, which is just what I had been learning in one of my classes. So, I turned around and walked back to my building and said, ‘Hi, are you Ephraim? I’m Sharon.’ We talked for a few minutes.” In a fateful twist, Ephraim had heard that Sharon lived in the same building and was outside the building trying to figure out which apartment was hers. Six months after Sharon introduced herself to Ephraim, they were married.
Shortly after their engagement, Sharon’s father’s health deteriorated and she was able to make it to America to see her father one last time before he passed away. Although it was under terrible circumstances, Ephraim flew to America to join Sharon and he met her family. When they arrived back in Israel after that difficult visit, they took some time to adjust and then started planning their wedding.
In January 2016, Sharon and Ephraim’s wedding was the first event in the newly renovated hall in Tzfat, on what Sharon calls “the coldest day in Israel’s history.” Their Chuppah was outdoors. “We really tried to emphasize the spiritual aspect of what we were doing. That was the most important part for us. The bottom line was wanting to be married and wanting to do it in the right way under the Chuppah,” says Sharon. As Baalei Teshuva, both becoming religiously observant later in life, the couple wanted their wedding to bring everyone together and they worked hard to create an atmosphere that everybody would be comfortable with, regardless of their religious affiliation. Sharon believes that is the beauty of Tzfat – everyone tries to get along with each other no matter who they are or where they come from. That’s what they wanted their wedding to reflect so they decided on a men’s, women’s, and a mixed seating section, ensuring everyone had a place they could feel comfortable.
They say Tzfat is the city of mysticism and it seems to be true for Sharon, Ephraim and their magical love story. Their next dream is of a home big enough to house their children and their families!