Zechariah and Shama’a married when they were just 12 and 10 years of age. Both were orphans and it was common practice in their native Yemen for children to marry young so they would remain within their Jewish community.
However, life for the youngsters was hard: “We didn’t lick honey in life. We suffered,” shared Shama’a in a charming report from the BBC. The child newlyweds were left to fend for themselves and lived in abject poverty, cleaning out a donkey barn and remaining there to sleep.
However, in 1948, when the pair was in their mid to late 20s, they managed to flee to Israel to escape the persecution of Jews. They went on to have 11 children and now have 64 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Despite their immense suffering in their early years, the centenarians believe the secret to their happy marriage is simple: “God had sent her to me, I was lucky to win her,” shared Zechariah, and Shama’a points out that they lived “without fighting,” and were happy to spend their lives together.
It’s incredible to think that these abandoned children, living in such horrific and difficult conditions and married as children, were able to forge a life together and overcome their hardships. As Zechariah explained: “God protected us all the way.”