“Meet your spouse at Hillel House” – was the chant of student leaders at the St. Louis Hillel, according to the late Rabbi James Diamond, the respected executive director of Hillel at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) from 1972 until 1995. Rabbi Diamond wrote: “I always regarded matchmaking among the items on Hillel’s hidden agenda. What better way to promote the Jewish future? Marriages are made in heaven, but Hillel helps.”
Chicago-born Brett Baron hadn’t come to the Elevation Seminar to meet girls. He came because of a poster advertising the seminar that he’d seen at his Jerusalem yeshiva, which promised a spiritual experience. But his friend Josh pointed someone out.
Ellie Schneiderman remembers how her boss, Stuart Levy, told her about the trip. He said: “I have some news for you. A part of it you’ll love – we want you to lead a Birthright trip; and a part, you’ll hate – your co-leader will be Yonatan Hochman.” Stuart knew how Ellie felt about Yonatan.
“My late husband wished me to re-marry,” said Judy Brown, “but it took me sixteen years. At first, I couldn’t even think about a second marriage, and then when I was ready, there was no one waiting in line to meet me.”
“No one would have thought to fix us up” she says. “He was too standard and I was too strange.”
Sharone Chernyak and Jonathan Bloom were juniors at Yeshiva University at the same time, and yet their paths had never crossed. That is, until 2012, the summer before graduation, when they were 22. Both had been accepted into the CLIP Leadership Internship Program at New York University, even though each had doubts about the program.
They’re both Americans – he’s from Missouri and she’s from Florida – but they met in Ra’anana, Israel. In the spring of 2011, Andrea “Andy” Surasky, then 20, was living in Ra’anana with her family, who had come to live in Israel after Andy graduated high school. Jason Ast, then 23, was living in another Israeli town, but would come to Ra’anana to visit his friend, Simcha.