Linda Bonen can still picture her husband, Moty, playing with the youngest of the couple’s three children in their Great Neck home, while the same playful question hung in the air.
“My husband used to walk around the house saying ‘who’s ‘Aba’s’ princess?’” Linda Bonen recalled of her husband, who she said enjoyed using the Hebrew word for father with the youngest of the couple’s three children.
And right on cue, Bonen said her daughter Tali, then a toddler, was always ready with a response.
“She’s walking around the house going ‘Tali, Tali, Tali,’” Linda Bonen recalled.
Although Moty Bonen was murdered on July 26, 1993, during an armed robbery of the car care shop he owned in Jackson Heights, Linda Bonen said she will never forget the bond forged between her husband and their youngest daughter.
When Tali, now 24-years-old, married Marcus Minyan, of Hollywood, Fla. on Sunday at the Great Neck Synagogue, Lisa Bonen said her daughter’s choice of wedding dates was no coincidence.
It was Tali’s decision to hold the wedding on Fathers Day in honor of her father, who was killed less than one month after her fifth birthday, Linda Bonen said.
“When I spoke at the wedding I said to Tali ‘you are in the shul that he always took you to and you need to know that no matter where you are in life - whether you’re a daughter, a mother, or a grandmother - you’re always going to be Aba’s princess,’” Linda Bonen said.
The wedding, which was attended by 200 people, included a reception at the Great Neck Synagogue immediately following the service.
“It was very elegant,” Linda Bonen said. “It was a black-tie wedding.”
Bonen said the wedding and reception served as a fitting tribute to her former husband.
“This is really about him and remembering him and the fact that these three amazing children have become successful young adults that are just vibrant and loving,” she said.
Following her husband’s death, Linda Bonen raised her sons, Oren and Ilan, along with Tali in Great Neck. The three children attended John F. Kennedy Elementary School before enrolling in Great Neck North middle and high schools.
“I stayed in Great Neck because, I think, that the community basically held me up,” said Linda Bonen, who lived in Great Neck for 30 years before moving to New York City in 2009. “At the time that my husband died they were five-, 10- and 12-year olds.”
Oren Bonen, 31, is a graduate of Syracuse University. Ilan, 29, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.
Tali Bonen earned an elementary education degree from the University of Delaware. She also received a masters degree in early childhood education from Hunter College in Manhattan.
Marcus Minyan, 23, works a real estate investor. The oldest of five children, Minyan was born in Brooklyn, but raised in Florida.
“My daughter’s a happy woman,” Linda Bonen said. “She’s married a great man.”
For Bonen, some of the happiness enjoyed by her children also is due to the upbringing they received in Great Neck.
“Great Neck was instrumental in helping me raise my kids,” Linda Bonen said.
Although they lost their father at a young age, Linda Bonen said the example her husband left behind also played a prominent role in their children’s upbringing.
“He was an incredible human being,” Linda Bonen. “He helped people that couldn’t sent their kids to Hebrew school. He bought books for the Hebrew school community. He was an amazing human being.”
In addition to holding the wedding on Fathers Day, Moty Bonen was also honored in another way during Sunday’s ceremony.
“His name is on a bronze plaque on the wall (of the Great Neck Synagogue),” Linda Bonen said. “The plaque was lit in his memory.
“It was not easy to do this yesterday,” she added. “I think everything in life is bittersweet when you don’t have someone you love with you.”
The wedding also honored several other members of Talia Bonen’s family.
Dr. Max Schnapp, Talia’s maternal grandfather, escorted the bride down the aisle along with Linda Bonen.
“Tali’s grandfather has been an incredible positive influence in her life,” Linda Bonen said.
Moty Bonen’s former friend, Avi Pariser, stood with Linda Bonen under the Chuppah during the ceremony.
“He was given the honor to stand under the chuppah next to me because he was just an incredible, incredible friend,” Linda Bonen said of Pariser. “He was like a brother to my husband.”
It was a ceremony, which Linda Bonen said was enjoyed by all - especially the bride.
“A lot of people asked her if she was nervous and she said she wasn’t,” Linda Bonen said of Tali, who wore an ivory-colored wedding dress. “My daughter was as calm as anything. She was so secure in what she was doing.”
Following last weekend’s wedding, Marcus and Tali Minyan traveled to Aventura, Fla. where the couple will now live.
“I thanked Tali and Mark for giving us the reason to have this wonderful celebration,” Linda Bonen said. “I was happy.”