A shidduch just across the pond. London to Brooklyn...
Match #: 81&82
It was my third year as an English teacher in a boysâ school when I decided to produce a weekly 4-page school magazine for the 6th to 8th Grade classes to encourage them in their writing skills. The magazine was in its 5th issue when, while performing a google search for stories and weekly Drashot, I noticed on the side of the results page "JWed, Jewish orthodox singles." For years I had been recommended to try Internet dating but had never really taken it seriously, believing, quite incorrectly, that most people would only try Internet dating as a last resort. I didn't even consider that there would be any potential and was initially very skeptical, nevertheless I thought to myself, ãThere's no harm in tryingä so I pointed the mouse at the link and clicked on it. I performed a quick search for a female within the set criteria and to my surprise the results came up with some very interesting ladies who certainly did not appear as women using JWed as a last resort. So, I immediately became a member, wrote my profile and posted it onto the site. The date was May 25th.
Now for a little bit of history... I started dating in January 1996 and had been through a very torturous journey with many many downs and very few ups. Self-esteem and confidence were at a low and the future was not looking too bright either. Although I was told many times, even by some members of my family that I was, "too picky," a phrase that I had come to hate, I just felt I hadn't met the right girl yet. I had been in contact with some very helpful people who had tried their best but to no avail. Throughout these years of dating I had traveled to Manchester, Nice, Paris and Israel, visiting Israel sometimes twice a year for shidduchim. At the time of joining JWed I was considering leaving my hometown to settle in Israel. I felt, as a Sephardi, my chances of finding someone in Israel were that much better. Unfortunately, the economic situation and the tension in the region had kept me in town for a time but my patience was wearing thin and it wouldn't be too long, I felt, before I made the move.
I would have normally been planning my summer vacation trip to Israel at this time but my chavruta of five years had just got engaged to a girl from across the pond and was planning the wedding for the end of August. I was eager to attend being that the last time I had been to that part of that world was on a school trip, as a nine year old, for twelve days in 1979. While looking into the price of tickets on the Internet, I thought to myself, ãWait a minute, why don't I try and kill two birds with one stone and meet someone while attending my chavrutaâs wedding.ä So I went onto JWed, set specific criteria and performed a search for someone in that area.
The results were phenomenal; there were approximately 110 women that came up. I patiently looked through the results with one profile in particular catching my eye. I was fascinated by the vivid description of herself and the sort of person she was looking for. ãVery interesting,ä I thought, so being this my first time of contact, I decided to follow the websites instructions and send her a detailed message raising some of the points she had specified in her profile.
The next morning I received her reply. It was extremely thoughtful and well written with a lot of effort having gone into her reply. In this e-mail, she brought up some further points, which I found to be most interesting so I decided to contact her again. Her reply came the next morning, but this time, even though it was courteous, it was to the point. Namely, she thought that JWed was not the correct forum to use as a means of chatting or getting to know someone but it was designed for those seriously looking for a partner in marriage and therefore, if I was interested, the next e-mail should contain references, and if I was not, then, as she put it, "Hatzlacha in your search."
I was certainly serious in my desire to get married but sometimes the written word can be misinterpreted and I felt that perhaps she hadn't recognized my true intentions. Moreover she had thrown down the gauntlet and as I love a challenge, I accepted her conditions and to her surprise, e-mailed my references. The next day her references followed and a few days passed while we contacted them.
In the meantime, I was informed by my chavruta of the bad news that his engagement and wedding were called off. He was going to rush off within the next couple of days to try and repair the damage. By this time she and I had come to the decision that it would be worth our while to meet. I decided that it would not be in my interest to wait until my vacation in August so I took time off work and went to meet her in her hometown on the 22nd of June.
From the first meeting we hit it off. It was and is as if we were made for each other. She herself had been through much heartache in dating and suffered from a near broken engagement the previous year, but from the moment we met all was history. We met a total of nine times over the ten-day period of my visit and all went very well. I was convinced that she was my zivug, however due to her previous disappointments; she wanted to take things a little slower. It would be another four weeks until we would meet again but by that time we were agreed that we should get engaged. It was only a matter of when the proposal would be. It turned out to be on the 10th of August in a restaurant that we had named our own, in her part of the world.
As for my chavruta, his efforts were to no avail and the broken engagement was confirmed. An interesting aside, however, was while I was conducting a search the month before, I came across a very interesting girl that I felt would be quite suitable for him if he were not engaged to another at the time. In an effort to cheer him up, I introduced him to JWed where he reluctantly posted a profile. Following that, I showed him this particular girl that I thought might be suitable. They contacted each other through the website, decided to meet and are currently dating with the prospects looking promising.
I had always felt that this sort of amazing story would never happen to me. Taking all the factors and occurrences that had to take place for us to find each other; it is truly amazing that she and I ever met and that the first person I should contact on JWed would be the one for me. It is unbelievable and no human being could have planned for everything to fit into place as it did. Of course we are truly grateful to Hashem and JWed for bringing one neshama from different sides of the pond together.
It all started with a real drought. When I say a drought, I mean a REAL drought. No dates for a few months, with absolutely nothing on the horizon at all. I mean, AT ALL. Have I been definite enough? Yes? Okay, Iâll go on. That was when it all began... A JWed email was mushed into my inbox between 100 or so other messages, most of which were all spam mail. Every time I got an email from JWed, no matter that it was silly; my stomach would churn a bit. ãIs this a possibility?ä I clicked on the link, accessed my profile. A very very long message awaited me in my inbox.
That surprised and unnerved me. I was used to short and unfortunate pick-up lines, ãHey, you. Youâre just the dreamboat IÎm looking for. Check out my profile,ä a one or two-liner, or the very least some sort of light conversation leading up to the nitty-gritty of, äSo when do you want to speak and set up a date?ä This time the sender had actually read the stuff I had written and apparently had found it interesting. He wrote a lengthy and friendly email asking me all about different points I had mentioned in passing in my profile, a philosophical discussion of sorts. I found his style of writing intriguing, so I wrote back, once and then twice. He never asked if I was interested in him or stated any clear interest in me. For sure, I found the ãconversationsä interesting, but they made me a bit nervous. He didnât seem to be in any rush to get references or set up a date. I thought, ãWhat if heâs just one of those guys who wants to ãtalkä and to be ãfriendsä. Then heâll decide, in x number of months if and when he wants to see me.ä That concept didnât appeal to me. What if he were to continue this enjoyable conversation until I so much liked talking to him, but never asked me out?
Now, Iâm not the most daring person in the entire world, but I decided to sit down and write a daring email, figuratively holding my breath. I replied to his email, with my usual enthusiasm, but carefully inserted lines that articulated that though I enjoyed these emails, I wasnât too much into the idea of having a pen-pal or email relationship and that I felt the best ways for two people to get to know one another was through actually meeting and going out. I reminded him that heâd mentioned that he hadnât been to my part of the world for nearly 20 years and that it hadnât seemed as if he were planning a trip there anytime soon. I asked him to consider if he were interested and that if he was, he should exchange references with me and weâd talk further to set up a date. I politely but firmly told him that if he was not interested, I appreciated the conversation but preferred to leave it as is, and would wish him well in the future. The truth is, I never expected to hear from him again. Boy, was I in for a surprise! He wrote back with his references and I replied with mine, explaining that I was pleasantly surprised to hear from him and glad that he had written.
I spent all my lunch hours in my car for the next few days, calling overseas with my calling card and my trusty cell phone. Every person I spoke to impressed me more and more. By the time I had finished with the first ãbatchä of calls on that first day, I was ready to go out with this guy! I had spoken to his colleague and he told me what a great teacher he was, how much the kids liked him, and how they would hang around him even when not in classes, stopping by his shul on Shabbos, playing games in the schoolyard during their recess. I was hooked! I was hearing about a nice, sweet, ãmentschlachä guy, who seemed to be on about the same level of frumkeit as me, wanted to grow, loved and worked fantastically with kids, etc; the list of the attributes ran long. Now, all I had to do was not get my hopes up too high or expect too much. I still had to speak to him and then go out.
He wrote to me in between my frantic overseas calling. He had spoken to a few people and didnât need to speak to anyone else. He wanted to speak to me. We spoke the next day, during another lunch break, holed up in my car for privacy (as my coworkers have mastered the art of eavesdropping). We had a great conversation and he said heâd like to continue our conversation further and to figure out when heâd come to my side of the pond, as it were, to visit. The very next day, I received an email with tentative dates for him to fly. Sheesh, this guy had me surprised the whole time and he WAS serious!!
Subsequent conversations shortly thereafter had him booking a flight for about 2 weeks hence. With my own careful urging, we kept it polite, more like a friendly and interested acquaintanceship. I was sure I wanted to keep it friendly and create that ãbondä when I would actually be dating the ãOut of Townerä. The week before he arrived, we had a really really great conversation and the less practical and more emotional side of me took over for a bit. I wanted this to work. I was going to give this my all. All that had to happen was mutual attraction and then we were set, no biggie. (Not!!)
Less than a week later, he came to see me. I was nervous like anything, while he appeared as cool as a cucumber. We had a great time and hit it off from the start. Three or four days later, I asked him how he thought it was going. We had gone out every night that week except that one, and that night we spent hours on the phone. Well, they seem to move very fast on the other side of the pond. His whole committee of advisors (read friends and family ;-)), were pushing him to get a commitment before he left. He wanted to propose to me by the next Sunday (having arrived on the Sunday before, I must add). ãYou want me to agree to marry you so soon after meeting you?!! I mean, I like you and I want to see this work and I think it may be right, but Iâm not yet sure enough to make that kind of decision!ä He pushed and I pushed back, requesting that he grant me the time and that I wasnât brushing him off, that I just needed a bit more time than nine days!
By our last day together, heâd booked a ticket to come back and made sure to tell my parents TWICE that he would be returning when weâd stopped off so they could say goodbye. He surreptitiously snuck the comments in when asked what he did during his summers. ãWell, usually, I would go to Israel during the summer.ä He winked at me. He would be coming back for a month and made it clear that he wanted and expected some sort of commitment by then. As nervous as it made me, as excited as I was, as unsure as I was, as confused as I was, I was happy. Though the situation seemed absolutely nutty, it was just after nine days, I very probably, most likely, most assuredly, would be saying yes and everyone knew it. Surprisingly enough, instead of my parents being their usual cautious selves, they were pressuring me as to when I would be saying yes. ãI need to be sure, I need more time,ä I said. I didnât want to regret committing before I was ready, before I was 100 % sure. With all my caution and saying how crazy it all was, I told him, during the course of a conversation of many, overseas, between his two trips, that I would say yes to a proposal, if he were standing in front of me.
Several weeks later, he arrived. He teased me every day. ãIt could happen anytime, anywhere, when youâre least expecting it.ä And, so it was. He proposed to me and smiling happily through my tears, I said yes.
The story continues, but not with us, though weâre getting married in just a few short weeks. We hope to hear good news in the future from my fiancˇâs chavruta! (Donât some things just turn full circle?!)
We are so grateful to Hashem, our family and our friends, and to the people at JWed for helping us to find each other.
Devora & Reuben, JWed Couple #41, were married on 22 Cheshvan 5764, November 17th, 2003
Devora & Reuben, JWed Couple #41, were married on 22 Cheshvan 5764, November 17th, 2003
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