Sheryl and I found each other on JDate in March of 2002. I lived in Torrance, Calif. at the time and was working full-time as a maritime administrative law attorney in Santa Ana, Calif. Sheryl lived in Fullerton, Calif. and was a full-time graduate school librarian for Pepperdine University in Irvine. We attended different synagogues and never would have met… but for JDate.
Sheryl posted her profile under the name “Bibliophile,” which got my attention. She did not post a photo of herself, but wrote in an elegant and beautiful way. At the time, I rode a Harley Davidson, had a basset hound named Watson and volunteered as President and lay leader assisting the Rabbi of a small reform synagogue in El Segundo. Sheryl had a tuxedo cat named Fortune and a pet mouse named Mazel. Judaism and weekly synagogue attendance was important to each of us. I had spent four years studying at an orthodox Yeshiva and love the ritual and wisdom of Judaism. Sheryl had chosen to become Jewish before we met. She was very close to Rabbi Bernie King, of blessed memory, and Rabbi Stephen Einstein, both of whom prepared her for conversion years earlier.
After exchanging emails for a while, we agreed to meet at the Daily Grill in Irvine for dinner. I came prepared with a bag of cat and mouse treats and an orange Gerber Daisy. The florist swore it would make an impression, and it did. The huge orange flower has since become a source of amusement to us as neither of us cared for its looks very much. The cat and mouse treats were a big hit however, and Sheryl was relieved I wasn’t brown bagging my dinner while she ate at the restaurant, which was her first thought at seeing me carry in a paper bag!
We talked and talked about our love of books, Judaism, our interests and family. Afterwards we went to a book store together and started dating. Many of our dates took place on my Harley. One of the things that brought us together was Sheryl’s motorcycle jacket, which she had owned for years, even though she didn’t ride a bike. Rabbi King had warned her she would never meet a man wearing that jacket. Little did he know it brought us even closer together! I was introduced to and grilled by both rabbis who wanted to make sure I was a good match for Sheryl. They both officiated at our wedding. We met on March 16th, 2002 and became engaged on Memorial Day weekend, two months later. We were married on December 1, 2002 (the day I last shaved as Sheryl asked me to grow a beard) and we celebrated our 10th anniversary a few months ago.
Sheryl encouraged me to follow my dream of becoming an ordained congregational rabbi, which I did. I was the rabbi of Congregation Beth Torah in Torrance for ten great years and still have Shabbat and holiday services at home with many of our friends. Together, we helped each other get through the passings of her father and my parents, as well as our pets and many good friends from our congregation.
Sheryl told me of her love for the idea of adopting children while we dated and she and I traveled to Vietnam in 2007 where we met and adopted our children, James Robert and Esther Rose Spero. The Harley and my old BMW Z3 convertible were replaced by a Honda minivan and 1958 Chevy that can haul us all around together. We bought a home in Torrance where we live with our kids and four cats.
Our love for each other and our children continues to deepen over the years and we owe it all to God, guiding us to each other via JDate. We cannot imagine what our lives would have been without each other.
Sheryl and Gary