Rebecca Stern and Jesse Wenger met in first grade. She was his first love and he was her first love. They were separated a year later when Jesse transferred to a public school in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and Becca remained at the Solomon Schechter in Elkins Park. Becca, 25, sometimes wonders what would have happened if they had remained in the same class through high school. Would they have ended up as a couple? “Probably not,” she concludes.
“It was just me and my cat,” says Michal Cohen Eckstein, when she was a 38-year-old religious single living in Jerusalem in 2012. But she didn’t give up hope and continued repeating her mantra: I will get married. She also decided to heed the Talmudic notion that if you change your place, you will change your luck.
"We were in the same crowds, but I didn’t see her,” says Tani Guterman. “It’s like Daniella was under the radar screen.” In the spring of 2012, Daniella Stein was a senior at Yeshiva University (YU) Stern College for Women, and Tani was a YU alum. They both came from Young Israel backgrounds – she, from Lawrence, New York, and he from Staten Island; and they both worked with children with special needs.
“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.