Holland has first Jewish military wedding since Holocaust


AMSTERDAM (JTA) – The first Dutch Jewish military wedding since the Holocaust was held in Amsterdam.

Air Force 1st Class Cpl. Chaim Benistant, wearing his dress uniform and strapping a ceremonial sword on his golden belt, wed Nancy Koster at the Dutch capital’s Amstel Hotel on Sunday in a ceremony conducted by Rabbi Menachem Sebbag, the armed forces’ chief Jewish chaplain, according to a statement from the Dutch Israelite Religious Community, or NIK.

Koster, wearing a lace shoulder top over a wedding gown with pearl decorations, walked with Benistant under a Navy saber arch after the ceremony. Marines sailed through the canals of Amsterdam with the couple to the hotel from their base in Amsterdam.

Benistant saluted the saber arch as an homage to the man whom NIK said was the last person known to have wed his wife at a military Jewish ceremony in the Netherlands: the resistance hero Philip de Leeuw.

De Leeuw, a first lieutenant in the Dutch armed forces during the 1940 German invasion, was arrested and sent to forced labor. He escaped and attempted to reach the United Kingdom. When that failed, he joined the resistance. He was arrested in 1944 after participating in an assault on a railway target and shot dead by German troops.

De Leeuw wed Betty Polak on Dec. 21, 1939, at Amsterdam’s New Synagogue, or Neie Sjoel. A photograph from the wedding shows De Leeuw sipping wine from a cup that a rabbi is holding up to his lips.

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