We asked our readers to submit their tales of romance, and you delivered! Read these sweet stories from our Federation family.
“My husband and I met in Etz Chaim preschool when we were four. We had a little crush on each other even back then, and there’s a photo of him with his arm around me at that time, and a few others of us playing together. He tried to flirt with me in middle school, but I thought boys were gross then, so, of course, I ignored him.
My mom ran into him at Publix about 10 years ago and asked if he remembered me. He said yes. After she told me she had run into him, I looked him up on Facebook after all these years. And I thought he was cute! But I was too shy to ask him out, until about five years ago. I asked him to dinner, and we had a horrible first date. I decided I didn’t want to see him again, but he was persistent and really wanted another chance to win me over. So, I relented. We had an incredible second date and have been together ever since. We got married in August of 2020 with 11 people in attendance.”
– Anna Streetman and Harrison Levy
“We met on a Federation mission in 1986 and married later that same year. We remember very fondly that we had nearly 200 chaperones on our “first date.” There were five busloads of us. After all these years, I am finally comfortable admitting that I made certain that Robert and I were on the same bus.
Robert and I have been married for nearly 36 years. We have three kids: Janine Franco and her husband Alan Pinstein, Dena Franco and her husband Jonny Newburgh, and Eli Franco and his wife Shira Berman.”
– Sara Franco and Robert Franco
“‘We met over a plate of kiddush tuna.'” This long-standing quip from Nachum isn’t so far from the truth.
In 2007 we were both new to Denver, seeking community, and found ourselves in the same synagogue with a small but growing young adult community. We began spending Shabbat afternoons together and quickly became close friends. Over time that friendship grew to more, and within a few months, we knew we’d found our match.
We got engaged a year later, on Melissa’s 25th birthday, and the community surprised us with a lovely fancy dinner (because the kosher options were so limited!) and then an impromptu party. We were married that summer in the same synagogue where we met by the rabbi at whose home we’d spent many of our Shabbat afternoons while dating. We have now lived in seven residences in four cities spanning three states/two countries and added two kids to the family.”
-Rabba Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez and Rabbi Nachum Gutierrez
“Where do you look for love when you’ve lived in Atlanta your whole life and worked in the Jewish Community most of your career…on JDate! After 10 years of being divorced, I was finally an empty nester and decided to try online dating.
In early December 2015, I got an online message from Roy: “JDate says that we are a 95% match, do you agree?” After reviewing his profile, I learned he was originally from Savannah. Knowing that my friend and colleague at Federation, Susan Moray, had previously worked in the Savannah Jewish community, I walked down the hall to ask if she knew him. I was thrilled to hear, “not only do I know him, but we were next-door neighbors, and he is a great guy!”
On Monday, December 7, 2015, which happened to be the second night of Hanukkah, we arranged to meet for dinner. There was an immediate connection, and our conversation continued after dinner at a quaint coffee house. We discovered that he had previously worked in the same office building as my father, who published The Jewish Georgian.
At the end of our first date, he asked me what I was doing the next day. I flirtatiously shared that I was having a mammogram. The following evening, I received a thoughtful text asking how my appointment had gone. His care and concern touched me. At the end of the text, he cleverly gauged my interest by asking if I’d like to get together again and said, “is this Friday too soon or not soon enough?!”
We talked throughout the week and had a great second date, followed by a third date where he offered to cook Shabbat dinner. He asked what I was doing on Christmas Eve, and I shared that I had plans to go to Steve’s Live Music in Sandy Springs to hear Tony Levitas, Mark Michelson, and Hannah Zale. He was also planning to go, so we were excited for our friends to meet.
The night was filled with more coincidental connections. It ended up that the last performer of the night was his niece, Hannah Zale. Roy didn’t know that his niece’s older sister, Tali Benjamin, had been a work colleague of mine at Federation. At lunch on my second day, Tali and I realized that Hannah was the same age as my son Jonathan, also a musician, and they had common friends. As a result, Hannah and Jonathan eventually met and performed together at a music festival.
The biggest surprise was yet to come. I woke up on December 31, making last-minute preparations to entertain friends, excited to ring in 2016 with Roy. I had to run some errands and a scheduled MRI because of some strange symptoms I had been having. Roy offered to come with me, but I told him not to worry, that I was sure it was nothing and that I would call him as soon as I was done.
Around 1 PM, I called to let him know they were sending me to the emergency room because something didn’t look right on the scan. I called my family, all of whom live in Atlanta. Imagine Roy meeting my entire family for the first time in the hospital as we received the unimaginable news that I had a brain tumor.
We were all in shock from the diagnosis, but then something amazing happened. Roy held my hand, reassuring my family that he was not going anywhere. He explained that in the short time we had known each other, he already knew that we had something special and that sticking around was a “no-brainer.”
Despite my diagnosis, I did not shed a tear because my heart was filled with love. Could it be true that this amazing man was willing to be vulnerable enough to fall in love, faced with so much uncertainty about a future together? On January 7, 2016, four weeks after our first date, I had brain surgery, followed by a year of chemo. The last thing I remember before they took me back to the operating room was him whispering in my ear, “I love you.”
Over the past six and a half years, my brain tumor has remained stable, no doubt in part because of the happiness and love Roy has added to my world. On June 14, 2020, just three months into COVID, Rabbi Berg married us in the gazebo in the backyard of our new home, surrounded by our blended family.
I marvel at the timing of our meeting and all the connections. I have come to believe that, as Albert Einstein is quoted, “coincidences are G-d’s way of remaining anonymous.” In Judaism, we have the perfect word for this type of divine intervention, which is simply defined as ‘Beshert.'”
-Karen Paz and Roy Cranman