I first encountered my Israeli wife, Einat, about two years ago in a local Talmud class (in Auckland, New Zealand), and I was quite unimpressed by her understandings and worldview. I do not think I made any impression on her at that time either.
We met again about six months before we finally went on our first date. While I now understand she was curious about me, I did not recognize her curiosity at first. Soon after that, I met her after morning prayers, along with her father (he was visiting her). She offered to give me Hebrew lessons and I promised to be in touch. However, I became unwell and sent her an email to tell her so. Einat apparently overlooked it among all her other mail; I just thought she was rather rude for not responding. I have since learned she had tried to contact me via JDate, but I did not know because I had not paid to subscribe and therefore could not read my messages.
In desperation, Einat asked a local rabbi to act as Shadchan. She says she would never have asked the rabbi to connect us if she had not seen my JDate profile. Soon after, I went to attend a Wednesday night class given by that rabbi, but ended up being asked many questions about my background and did not understand why. The rabbi told me a girl in the community was interested in me. When I learned it was Einat, I laughed — my impression of her was that she was my polar opposite, not my soul mate! Plus, she was significantly younger than me and essentially secular. But the rabbi impressed upon me to keep an open mind. And since what I had been doing had not yielded positive results, I decided then and there I would indeed keep an open mind. The rabbi then telephoned Einat and informed her he had spoken to me and I was going to telephone her in the coming days.
I ended up telephoning Einat just before Shabbat to say I would call her the following week to arrange a date. In the meantime, I checked out her JDate profile and still thought her an unlikely match. The following week I telephoned Einat and we arranged to meet early one afternoon during the week because she was very busy at that time and was soon going to Israel for six weeks. When the day of the date came, I received a text message from Einat in the morning saying her cellphone’s battery was running out. She asked me to call her later using her work number to confirm exactly when and where I should pick her up. However, I could not make contact with her, despite trying repeatedly. And Einat did not contact me.
Later that afternoon, I finally managed to make contact and told Einat that maybe it was not meant to be. She did not seem to like this. We ended up agreeing to give it another go. I said I would call her the following week. In the meantime, I spoke with the rabbi and expressed my frustration. He told me to stick with it, which I reluctantly did.
We finally arranged a date and I picked up Einat from work late one Tuesday afternoon. I had very low expectations of success. How wrong I was! From the very beginning, I was impressed with Einat. The rabbi had advised me to go to Starbucks, so I suggested this to Einat and she agreed. I then drove to the waterfront where there was a Starbucks and we sat and talked on a beachfront bench. After that we walked for a little bit before finally going inside. We ended up talking for hours at Starbucks until they closed. And before we even left, it seemed we were both starting to think of sharing a future together. We then went for a drive, or rather a series of drives all over the city, and also walked on another beach, just talking and enjoying each other’s company until the morning. We decided to get married on that first date, and I dropped Einat at her work in the morning before I went to morning prayers.
We spent all the time we could together in the days before Einat went to Israel. I missed her terribly after she went. We had decided to marry in the months after she was expected to return to New Zealand. However, Einat soon decided it made more sense for me to fly to Israel so we could get married there with all her family and friends, which also made sense to me. Einat remarkably organized the wedding and reception in about a week. We married in Jerusalem just six days after I arrived in Israel.
The wedding, with all Einat’s family and friends, was amazing. We ended up extending our time together in Israel before returning to New Zealand, which was great. On our return to New Zealand, we faced many challenges, including a couple of health scares. But married life is wonderful! We are both very much in love, and our love and respect for each other grows daily. I always thought marriage would involve many compromises, but it does not feel like I am compromising anything. My/our life is so much better as a married couple!
My advice to others like me is to stop making excuses, to stop imagining obstacles, and to just find an amazing person like I did. You can decide to overcome all the apparent obstacles. That is what I did, and it is amazing how we are focusing and building on our similarities, rather than on our differences. In fact, we are actually so much alike it is unbelievable… especially given our (false) first impressions of each other. B’hatzlacha!
Einat and Nigel
Auckland, New Zealand