Intrepid S.F. couple has wedding in Israel after all

Becky Burgheimer and Daniel Buckwald planned on a dream wedding in Israel. But they never planned on war and rockets disrupting their happy day.

While the San Francisco couple married on schedule, Aug. 10, the war against Hezbollah wreaked havoc with their plans — forcing major changes, some of them last-minute.

Together for nine years, the two became engaged last December. Buckwald grew up in Israel, and Burgheimer lived there for several years, so it was never a question that they would marry anywhere but Israel.

Originally set for the Achziv National Park on the beach in Israel’s north, the wedding was moved to Sachne, a national park presumably in the safer southeast.

“When we got to Israel, we visited the [new] site,” says Burgheimer. “We found rooms for relatives and started making calls. Then a rocket flew over the second wedding site. People started to get nervous.”

The couple forged ahead anyway, but the day before the wedding, Katyushas landed in the kibbutzes surrounding the wedding site. “At that point,” says Burgheimer, “the wedding plans completely crumbled.”

By then, many of the out-of-town guests had canceled, including several members of Burgheimer’s extended family and a close girlfriend. “That was a huge blow,” she adds, “but we were so determined, we were running on adrenaline. Every hour things were changing.”

Once again, the couple’s intrepid wedding planners sprang into action, instantly coming up with Plan C: Havazelet HaSharon beach, located between Netanya and Hadera. The couple had 24 hours to rearrange everything.

“Everyone pitched in,” recalls Burgheimer. “We had to call the make-up person, the hair person, the photographer, the bartender. The morning of the wedding I spent working on logistics. It was very high stress.”

But because the two families remained determined, the wedding ceremony went off without a hitch. Burgheimer drove up to the beach — a site she’d never seen before — transformed into a magical wedding bower, a holy place on the sand.

Now the newlyweds are back in San Francisco, she at her job as director of the Jewish Coalition for Literacy, he as a graphic designer. But the joy of her wartime wedding hasn’t faded for Burgheimer, nor is it likely to.

“We as American Jews live in this golden age,” she says. “We’re not used to hardships. But throughout most of Jewish history, this is how it’s been. I felt that we were communing with past couples trying to cling to their own joyous ceremonies that were broken up.

“I felt this wedding in the context of the larger struggle in Israel, with so many people in pain and in fear. I felt really lucky.”

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.