Hundreds of strangers instantly became brothers and sisters to Marianny and Julio last Thursday in the Young Israel of Forest Hills. After two years of learning and preparing, Julio Salazar (now Yaakov), and Marianny Loveras (now Leah), completed their conversion process to Judaism, and celebrated their wedding together on Thursday, June 20, in the Young Israel of Forest Hills.

Rabbi Ashie Schreier and his congregants took this opportunity to showcase to the couple what the Jewish people are all about. Congregants of the shul treated this wedding as their own, and even took off from work to help prepare for this big event. From the flowers to the food, to the chupah, they worked very hard to make sure this wedding would run smoothly. Within hours of the invitation being sent around through the many group chats and email lists that exist, phone calls and checks came flying in to help support this amazing wedding. It became more than just a wedding in the Young Israel of Forest Hills; it became a wedding in the hearts of all of the Jewish people. Rolling off of everyone’s lips was the phrase, “Mi k’amcha Yisrael” – “Who is like the nation of Israel” – a nation where doing good is the bond that can unite everyone together.

Giving is a two-way street, and although it seems like Marianny and Julio were the recipients of all of the gifts, perhaps everyone involved in this wedding gained more. The couple taught everyone what it means to truly commit to something, and reminded everyone that they are so lucky to be a part of this amazing nation. After the chupah, which was accompanied by Eitan Katz and his wonderful music, the floor in the main shul was shaking from the jumping crowd filled with pure joy to be there. This amazing wedding was following the holiday of Shavuos, the time that the Jews as a nation accepted the Torah, and this wedding was really just an extension of that holiday; it was a night where everyone felt proud to have such a beautiful religion as a part of their lives. May klal Yisrael continue to unite over happy events and not only shake the floors in shuls, but shake the gates of heaven and bring the ultimate happiness, bimheirah b’yameinu, Amen.

 By Devorah Schreier

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