Bride recovers from horriﬁc fire accident to walk under chupah
When Sharon Karia suffered 21 per cent burns in a fire at her home, doctors believed she would die as a result of her injuries.
But last week she completed a remarkable recovery by walking down the aisle to realise her dream of marrying fiancé Alan Blumenthal.
To add to the celebration, her new husband is president of Birmingham's Singers Hill Synagogue, and the wedding is believed to be the city's first marriage of a sitting shul president for around 300 years.
The simchah was also the first wedding conducted at the shul by Rabbi Yossi Jacobs since he joined the community last year.
Hundreds of guests watched as the bride walked to the chupah accompanied by daughter Sadie, 11, and son Avi, nine, her children from a previous marriage.
Speaking to the JC while on a honeymoon cruise in the Baltic, Mr Blumenthal, 49, said: "It was the best day ever. Just seven weeks before, we thought we would not be able to get married, but Sharon achieved so much so quickly.
"It was always my ambition to get married at the shul. To achieve that, and with such a beautiful wife and new family, I could not have asked for more."
On New Year's Eve last year, Mrs Blumenthal, who runs a property company, had been lighting candles for a dinner party when her skirt and tights caught fire.
Her life was saved when Sadie wrapped her in a blanket to put out the flames.
Doctors feared the 45-year-old may never walk again, due to the severity of the burns on her legs.
But when her health improved earlier in the summer, the couple, who met on Jewish dating website JDate, rushed to go ahead with the wedding. "It was a remarkable feeling walking down the aisle. I was in hospital for three months and had suffered 21 per cent burns. I never thought I'd be well enough to get married," said Mrs Blumenthal.
"Married life is treating us very well. It is not just about Alan and myself, but also the children."
Rabbi Jacobs said: "I believe it's the first time a current president has been married in the shul in its 300-year history. Alan was very involved in saving the shul from a merger or closure.
"Sharon's accident was very scary. No one knew what would happen to her. It's a remarkable story. They are a great couple."
Mandy Blumenthal, the groom's sister, said: "People cancelled holidays and altered their flights to come from Canada, Israel and all over Britain. Sharon had skin grafts and operation after operation - it was a horrendous time."
Mr Blumenthal runs the Suits Plus menswear chain and is a former Conservative councillor on Birmingham City Council. His late father, Harold, served as Lord Mayor of the city.