Zechariah and Shama’a had to live through things no one should ever have to live through.
Despite all their hardship, they stayed together for 91 years.
And what’s even more amazing is that they are still in love almost a century later.
Both Zechariah and Shama’a were orphaned when they were children and left without mother.
“We both grew up as orphans. He was motherless, so was I,” Shama’a told BBC.
So, as was practiced with most orphans in their native Yemen, they were married at an extremely young age.
Zechariah was 12 and Shama’a was 10.
This was so that they would have a better chance of staying within the Jewish community and not marrying others outside their faith.
Unfortunately, child marriage is still something that occurs in Yemen today.
As of 2022, there was no minimum age for marriage in Yemen, according to the Borgen Project.
The Sharia Legistlave Committee has repeatedly overruled efforts to set a marriage age at 17 and above saying it is “un-Islamic.”
Reports of children as young as 12 being married were coming out of Yemen in 2020.
Despite being pressured into marriage by people who weren’t their parents, they had no other support besides each other.
“We didn’t lick honey in life. We suffered,” Shama’a told the BBC. “There was no worse suffering than we had experienced. There is none.”
The children and married couple were forced to fend for themselves.
“We had no house we cleaned a donkey’s barn and lived in it,” Shama’a said.
They survived by cleaning out a barn that they slept in.
They were able to escape Yemen in 1948 to escape the persecution of Jews and moved to Israel when they were in their mid to late 20s when the country was founded.
They built their family in Israel and had 11 children
. They have a total of 64 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“One, two, three. I already can’t remember how many there were. There were many,” Zechariah said.
He considers himself to be very blessed to have married his wife.
He is grateful for the many years they’ve spent together and the big family they were able to build.
“God sent her to me. I was lucky to win her. Women flocked to me like a heard of sheep, but I didn’t take any of them,” Zechariah said. “Remember this is my first and last woman that I married and I never threw her out.”
Shama’a had to shush her husband at this point in the article.
She says the marriage has been a pleasant one for her.
“Together many years without fighting. Happy to spend our lives together,” she said.
Zechariah says he hopes that they will never have to spend time apart.
“God protected us all the way and let the two of us die together,” he said. “May God protect you and give you a good life.”