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Two Westchester natives, Margot Weissman of Rye/Harrison and Alexander Gruenstein of New Rochelle, met on a Tel Aviv beach while enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as Lone Soldiers, those who leave behind their home, family, and friends to serve in one of the world’s most dangerous war zones.
In their time in the IDF, both received ongoing support from New-York based non-profit Friends of the IDF (FIDF). FIDF provides Lone Soldiers support in the form of mentoring, financial aid, flights to visit their families abroad, holiday gift packages, social gatherings, etc. According to FIDF, there are currently about 900 Lone Soldiers from across the US serving in the IDF.
Alexander and Margot both attended Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, now the Leffell School, for elementary, middle, and high school. However, the two did not date until meeting up in Israel after college, after they had both individually decided to draft to the IDF. After finishing the army, they moved back to the US where they both began their graduate professional degrees.
The couple got engaged on June 15, 2019 and decided to plan a wedding in the place they fell in love, Israel, but had to cancel due to COVID-19. With the date approaching and Margot leaving for her final year of school, they decided that they wanted to get married despite the difficult times. They had a 25-person wedding on Friday, July 31st with only aunts, uncles, and immediate family in Belle Harbor, Queens, in a private residence on the Beach. Two rabbis co-officiated the wedding: Rabbi Harry Pell, associate head of the Leffell School and Rabbi Yaakov Bienenfeld of Young Israel of Harrison. Over that weekend, they continued the celebration with a small backyard party for cousins and close friends.
Parents of the Groom and Bride: The Gruenstein family, are members of Beth El Synagogue Center, New Rochelle and the Weissman family, are members of Young Israel of Harrison.