The elaborate engagement of an Israeli Messianic couple — which involved having to secure the agreement of an army base and cooperation of tank brigade commanders — was featured on the morning show of Israel’s Channel 12 last week and reported on the online news site Mako and Yedioth Ahronoth’s Facebook page.
And for good reason: Tal Bass proposed to Eden Ronen in a military tank during her reserve duty three weeks ago.
Both born in Israel, Bass is a second-generation believer, and Ronen is the fifth generation in a long line of believing families in Israel. They met years ago after an army enlistment party at the moshav Yad HaShmona. Their June 1 engagement created a buzz around the country after Ronen’s tank brigade and the army posted photos on social media.
Though the morning news hosts on Channel 12 were briefed about the couple’s faith before they appeared, they kept the focus on the unique circumstances of the engagement.
“We knew their main interest was not our faith, but the proposal,” Ronen told Kehila News. “When they called in advance to get details about our story, we told them about our faith, but they didn’t ask about it while we were there.”
In fact, even after Ronen said she studied Tanach (Bible) in England after her army service, the intrigued hosts quickly steered the conversation back to the engagement.
“We were open to talk about our faith if it came up,” Bass said. “They knew we were believers, but I think they may have avoided it.”
Nevertheless, Bass and Ronen glowed and their character shined through during the interview.
“The fact that we were smiling and were very nice, people saw there was something different,” Ronen said.
And it’s not every day a Messianic couple’s engagement — or that of any couple for that matter — makes the news. Ronen knew an engagement was imminent, so Bass was hard pressed to find a way to surprise her. Bass was concerned he was too busy to surprise Ronen so he was going to keep it small, but some friends of his encouraged him to find a way to make it special.
After he got thinking, Bass’s idea for an engagement went from “small” to over the top, or turret: He wanted to decorate a tank at Ronen’s army base and surprise her inside with a ring.
That, however, was going to require going through many hoops. The couple wants to be married and settled before Ronen begins university in October, so time was of the essence.
Bass first contacted Ronen’s commander at her base in the Golan Heights and — after reassuring him that he was familiar with armored vehicles from his own military service — got permission to propose inside a tank while Ronen was there for reserve duty.
In addition to military cooperation, “it was a whole family effort,” Bass explained. Early that Monday morning, his father helped him get some last minute items then Bass left Beersheva on a bus to travel to Ronen’s family’s home outside Jerusalem. From there he borrowed their car and some rabbits, Ronen’s favorite animal, for the occasion. From there he continued to Tel Aviv and, assuming there would be no available parking in the city, his brother met him on the street to watch the car (and rabbits) while Bass picked up the ring. Finally, Bass continued north to the Golan Heights.
The battallion’s second in command met him and ferried him to the tank where he had less than an hour to decorate before the platoon had a drill to conduct. During that time, Ronen’s commander stalled her, asking technical questions about tanks before finally asking her to check out a specific one.
The commander motioned for her to jump in from the entry opposite Bass, who he brushed off as “just a technician.”
Ronen was taken aback to see balloons, flowers, lights and even rabbits in a military tank. Then she noticed Bass. She was shocked for about 10 seconds not really understanding what he was doing there.
“The moment I saw him, I asked, ‘Tal, what are you doing here?’” Ronen said. “I was thinking, ‘I’m in the north, in the Golan, he’s from Beersheva and I’m in the middle of a job. And suddenly Tal is here.’ Then he hugged me and I understood what was going on.”
Bass proposed, Ronen said yes and the subsequent military-approved photos went viral after being uploaded to the army’s social media accounts.
Bass, who is studying to be a tour guide, said that as an instructor in the army he always told his soldiers that when they have to make a presentation, always add at least one thing to take it from good to special. He applied his own words of wisdom to his engagement.
“It’s not about doing something that is big or trying to get feedback from it, it’s about doing something that represents you,” he said. “It’s doing something unique.”