Thursday, July 16, 2020

Aviva and Jonathan Halpert, June 19, 1966. (Credit: Halpert Family)

On Wednesday, August 7, YINR Ruach presented ‘So, How Did You Two Meet?,’ the romantic stories of eight local couples.

First presenting was Sol Garber. He explained, “I met my wife twice, but the first time I didn’t know who she was. We come from a very different era. In the ’50s, everyone had dates on Saturday nights. Not a shidduch, but a date!” One night, with no local kosher restaurants in Crown Heights, he and his friends went for “free eats” at a sweet sixteen party. It was Goldie’s party. 

The following summer, he worked in Belle Harbor. Sol described, “On the boardwalk, Modern Orthodox boys and girls were ‘allowed’ to socialize and talk to each other. I was walking one way and Goldie and a friend were walking the other way. This was called cruising. I was 21, she was 16. After six months, I was ready for marriage but she was not. Eight months later, I called her again. Her mother picked up and I asked to speak to Goldie.” He heard her mother tell Goldie to speak to him. They have been married since 1957.

Stuart Feuerstein told both his parents’ and his own stories. The parents’ cousins set them up because both survivors worked in fashion. Actually, Irene and Al came from European towns less than 10 miles apart. Al recalled seeing her as a little girl visiting his town. During their first date in midtown Manhattan, they were walking under a Danny Kaye marquee. Feuerstein described, “My mother mentioned she loved Danny Kaye. He said wait right here.” Al purchased tickets for another date with Irene. Angered that he did not ask first, she said she was busy and refused to go out with him. They got back together four years later and were married for decades.

Stuart met Rita while she was dating someone else in his social circle. Later, Stuart was in San Francisco on business. He learned through a mutual friend that Rita was also there for work. He called every hotel hosting trade shows looking for her, but couldn’t find her. That Shabbat, while walking in Union Square, he heard a jazz sax player. He followed the sound to a hotel entrance, where Rita coincidentally walked by. “I called her Sunday night—do you want get together Monday? She said no. I called her Monday for Tuesday. She said she was busy.” Rita told her mother she was uncomfortable because he knew the guy she used to date. On Wednesday, with her mother’s encouragement, she said yes. Over one year later, they were married.

One summer, Erika and Zev Skolnick were commuting from Oceanside on the same LIRR trains. Zev received tickets from his employer for the U.S. Tennis Open. “I called everyone I knew; everyone was busy. So I called my friend Erika from the train who was available,” said Zev. Later, Erika went to study in Italy. On her return, they dated and were married.

Future YU Basketball Coach Johnny Halpert never went to camp. When he was a senior at MTA, Rabbi Louis Bernstein, z”l, offered him a position at Camp Massad. Since he didn’t speak Hebrew, Rabbi Bernstein assigned him as the bread and milk boy. One night, Johnny noticed Aviva because she was wearing a Ramaz basketball jacket. The next day, they played 21, and Aviva won. Johnny claimed, “I let you win!” She responded, “You want a rematch?” They spent the rest of the summer on the basketball court. Aviva shared, “An extra bonus was my love for the ends of fresh rye bread. Johnny controlled the source and saved them for me. Today, Johnny no longer has access to rye bread ends, but every Friday night, he saves me the end of Zaidie’s challah.”

Deborah Zwany shared how her parents Violet and Joseph Black met. Violet and her family belonged to the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue (S & P). In 1937, 15-year-old Joseph arrived alone in New York, and came in contact with Rabbi Dr. David de Sola Pool, S&P’s rabbi. Seeing Violet in shul, he asked a friend to introduce them. Later, during his war-time military service, they corresponded. After VE Day, they dated and eventually Rabbi de Sola Pool married them at S & P.

Sherry Eidelman was part of the singles scene on the Upper West Side and working for a neurosurgeon. She shared, “The accountant came to do an audit. I told him I had just broken up. He was intent on fixing me up and wanted me to meet his brothers. I told him I was religious. Then, he said there was somebody in his office. I told him I was not that religious. He was persistent, and had Aaron call me.” This was December 1975. They married in June 1976.

Edna Bechhofer met Ernie as first-time attendees at Sutton Place Synagogue’s single parents’ group. Ernie was incredibly sentimental, and for many years, would send Edna a red rose on Wednesdays commemorating the day they met.

Ruach Founder Vera Koppel deemed this her best Ruach event ever.

By Judy Berger



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