January 6, 2003

Rabbi Michael Melchior performs the wedding ceremony for Megan Seltz and Ian Brandt on New Year’s Eve.Two young Americans made their first trip to Israel last week a truly unforgettable experience – they got married.

The couple, Megan Seltz and Ian Brandt, participants on the birthright israel program, were wed in a gala New Year’s Eve ceremony with 450 of their fellow program-goers in attendance.

Seltz and Brandt chose to come to Israel for their marriage and for the Birthright israel trip at a time when the U.S. State Department is warning people not to come and a time when the Israeli tourism industry has been hit extremely hard by the ongoing conflict Established in 1999, Birthright Israel is a collective effort by world Jewish leadership to bestow a visit to Israel upon every young Jew aged 18 – 26, as their personal “birthright.”

The couple live in Queens, NY where Brandt is studying law at Brooklyn Law School and Seltz is a PhD candidate in psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson. They originally met six years ago as undergraduates where they shared the same jazz teacher

Their wedding at the Neveh Ilan Hotel near Jerusalem was attended by the 450 other birthright participants from Germany, North America, Spain, and Hungary . The newlyweds were presented with a glass plaque, engraved with the verse from the book of Proverbs (29:18): Where there is no vision, the people perish.

Member of Knesset and Chairman of the Birthright Israel Steering Committee, Rabbi Michael Melchior, who performed the ceremony said, “This is the wedding of the century. This is the Jewish answer. Your decision to come here to marry here shows we have a future. It makes me optimistic for the future of the Jewish people.”

The couple decided to wed while on the 10-day tour after feeling dissatisfied with the progress of their wedding plans at home in New York.

“Initially, we were planning our wedding in New York, but it just didn’t feel right,” explained Seltz. “While we are not religious people, the wedding somehow lacked spirituality. It lacked holiness.”

“Since we arrived in Israel, it has made more and more sense to do what we’re doing, and it’s because of the kindness of everyone around us,” said Seltz. “When we got off the plane, we were greeted with ‘welcome home,’ and that’s exactly how it feels.”

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