‘It was very emotional’: Couple wed on first day after lockdown ends
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‘It was very emotional’: Couple wed on first day after lockdown ends

Phil and Emma Lewis's wedding makes them among the first Jewish couples to get married in a synagogue after lockdown

Phil and Emma Lewis tied the knot on Monday at a small ceremony at Woodford Forest United Synagogue
Phil and Emma Lewis tied the knot on Monday at a small ceremony at Woodford Forest United Synagogue

It was third time lucky this week for a newly-wed couple who tied the knot on the first day of lockdown easing.

Newly-married Phil and Emma Lewis had originally planned to mark the occasion with a bigger bash in June, but coronavirus forced the date to be rescheduled twice.

The intimate ceremony on Monday at Woodford Forest United Synagogue with 15 guests means the couple were among the first Jewish couples in the country to be married in a synagogue as lockdown eased.

“It’s created a lovely story for everyone,” said groom Phil, a 40-year-old police officer. “It was intimate and that on its own made it more emotional. 

“We had it live-streamed as well and the feedback that we’ve had is that they could feel the emotion as well.

“Our friends and family think it’s amazing, they’re really pleased for us.”

Emma and Phil getting married at the 15-person ceremony on Monday

New bride Emma added: “It was very emotional, it just felt like there was a bit of ‘oomph’ factor. 

“And with these times we’ve been in, there’s something for us to remember what we’ve been through, too.”

The shul’s senior rabbi, Mordechai Wollenberg, said: “It was not without challenges but to be able to celebrate the next step of the couple’s journey and the building of their home together was truly amazing.”

Phil wore his ceremonial police uniform for the wedding in memory of his late grandfather Joseph, who was also an officer – while Emma’s grandmother, Mildred, 89, helped to walk the bride down the aisle.

The pair met on a Jewish dating website – and Phil tells the Jewish News that he was only seconds away from cancelling his membership when luckily Emma popped up on the screen to say hello.

The pair are now waiting to be able to go to Israel for their honeymoon

He proposed around two years ago using a diamond gifted to Emma by her late grandfather for her eighteenth birthday. 

“He told me, ‘we need to get that diamond cleaned’ but when I got back, it was in an engagement ring,” recalled 36-year-old Emma, who works in property management.

While the happy couple have managed to become Mr and Mrs Lewis despite coronavirus, they are having to wait a little while yet before a honeymoon they have planned to Israel.

Help perform the greatest mitzvah: save a life

While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.

That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.

We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.

Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”

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