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November 15, 2015 3:18 pm

Israeli Couple Celebrating Anniversary in Paris Spared Concert Carnage, Thank Higher Power for Protecting Them

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Irit (right) and Rotem Talmi, the Israeli couple who decided at the last minute not to attend the concert at the Bataclan Theater, one of the sites of the Paris massacres. Photo: Courtesy.

Irit (right) and Rotem Talmi, the Israeli couple who decided at the last minute not to attend the concert at the Bataclan Theater, one of the sites of the Paris massacres. Photo: Courtesy.

An Israeli couple celebrating their 12th anniversary in Paris was given an unwitting gift on Friday night, when they decided against going to the Bataclan theater to attend a concert of the US rock band Eagles of Death Metal, the Israeli news site Walla reported on Sunday.

The Bataclan Theater was the site of the deadliest of the multiple terror attacks that took place in the French capital that night, leaving at least 129 people dead and another 350 wounded, one third of them critically.

Irit and Rotem Talmi, 39 and 41 respectively, arrived in Paris on Wednesday, intending to spend a romantic week together without their children, they told Walla, and to see the Irish rock band U2 perform that same night.

Irit told Walla that “because the concert was so amazing, and we felt so good afterwards, we decided to look for another concert to go to during the trip.” That is when her husband, Rotem, did an Internet search and discovered that the Eagles of Death Metal were going to be playing on Friday night.

Rotem told his wife that the band had been in Israel recently and he thought it would be good to go see them perform in Paris.

“I don’t know what made me say no,” Irit said, explaining that she and her husband generally love to go to concerts. “I told him we shouldn’t be greedy, since we saw U2 and were planning on seeing the [American rock band] Foo Fighters, as well.”

It was a “decision from heaven,” she told Walla, still in shock from contemplating what might have happened to them if they had actually gone to the concert that night.

Instead, they went out for dinner with another Israeli couple – right near the concert hall.

“We were eating and laughing,” Irit said. “And during the course of the evening, somebody turned out the lights and said: ‘Sorry, there was a terrorist attack.’ We said, ‘Ah, are you making fun of us because we’re from Israel?’”

But then, Irit said, she realized it was no joke, as all the diners were ushered down to the basement of the restaurant. Irit and Rotem and their friends were the only Israelis among the huddled crown. “The others said to us, ‘Wow, where you live it’s always like this.’ It was a good opportunity to do a little effective hasbara,” Irit said. “To explain that terrorism really does instill fear in all of us, and that we in Israel are always forced to deal with this harsh and unpleasant sensation.”

Another sensation they told Walla they are experiencing now is the elation that their lives were spared — twice — once by not being at the Bataclan Theater, and a second time by narrowly escaping the shootings at restaurant-goers nearby.

“We’re not religious,” said Irit. “But we can’t help the feeling that something higher was protecting us.”

Though the couple had planned to stay until Tuesday, they cut their trip short and returned home to Israel on Sunday — missing out on the Foo Fighters concert, which was canceled as a result of the terrorist attacks — but gaining their lives as an anniversary present.

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