Israeli hospital hosts wedding of COVID-19 patient's son

ISAAC SCHARF

JERUSALEM (AP) — An Israeli man hospitalized with the coronavirus has been granted the rare chance to take part in his son's wedding after the Jerusalem hospital hosted the ceremony on its grounds, beneath the man's hospital room window.

A video of Sunday's event by the Hadassah Medical Center showed the bride, escorted by two women holding candles, walking to a traditional wedding canopy set up on the hospital campus. As a live singer crooned Hebrew music, the couple, from an ultra-Orthodox family in the southern Israeli city of Arad, was surrounded by their guests, a handful of ultra-Orthodox men wearing masks, as well as several photographers.

Looking on from a window above the ceremony was the groom's father, 56, who has been hospitalized in serious condition with COVID-19 since September, according to the hospital. In the video, he is seen with an oxygen mask on his face, lying in a hospital bed near the window, which was draped with colorful balloons.

Yad Avraham, a medical volunteer organization that helped organize the wedding, said the father was dressed in a festive hat worn by ultra-Orthodox Jews on special occasions but was too weak to be dressed in full traditional wedding garb.

The hospital said that Sunday's wedding was held in accordance with all Health Ministry guidelines.

Hospitals around the world have looked for creative ways to circumvent the often heartbreaking challenges posed by the disease, which has divided grandchildren from grandparents, prevented final family visits to hospitals and drastically changed major life events.

Israel this week relaxed restrictions following a monthlong lockdown meant to rein in a raging coronavirus outbreak. It has recorded more than 303,000 infections since the beginning of the pandemic, with more than 2,200 deaths and 272,000 recoveries.

While daily infections have declined, restrictions are still in place, including on gatherings, which are limited to 20 people outdoors and 10 indoors.

The small, muted ceremony stood in contrast to a number of large celebrations held by some segments of Israel's ultra-Orthodox community, who in some cases have defied rules on gatherings.