How we met

We asked our readers to share their stories about how they met their beloved, and we received some wonderful tales. Here are their stories.

Cross-country romance with ‘first serious boyfriend’

Originally from Minneapolis, I dated a boy in high school — Steve Ptaszek — for about 1 1/2 years, whom I met through BBYO. He was my first serious boyfriend and I was his first serious girlfriend. As often happens at that age, we had some disagreements and broke up in our junior year.

In 1975 I moved to California to attend graduate school at U.C. Berkeley and ended up getting married, moving to Fremont and having two children. In 1998 my husband and I were separated. Over the years I would hear about Steve from mutual friends and even run into him occasionally.

Several months after my separation, on a trip back to Minnesota, the phone rang and it was Steve. I was flabbergasted. He said he had heard about my separation and wanted to know if I wanted to go for coffee. We ended up going to dinner with friends.

We corresponded occasionally by e-mail, and seven months later, on another trip to Minnesota, we went on a “real date,” dinner and dancing. From that night, we knew we were destined to be together again (he would constantly say he had waited for me for 30 years). Of course there was a big challenge for us: 1,500 miles!

A real Midwestern kind of guy, Steve owns his own business and has his family and lifelong friends in Minnesota. I had one child in high school and another in middle school; they were adamant they did not want to move to Minnesota. So we made the tough decision that we would just have to continue seeing each other as frequently as we could.

We have been dating now for almost five years, and got engaged on my 50th birthday in May 2003. When my son goes off to college this fall, after 29 years out here, I will be moving back to my home state and getting married on Nov. 14. Since Steve never married, his family is especially thrilled as they had pretty much given up on him ever getting married.

Sharon Moore lives in Fremont

A set-up in Jerusalem

The day I moved into my apartment in Jerusalem there was a young woman moving out. She had met her soul mate and after three months they were engaged to be married. Because I scoffed (to myself) at this and was a true skeptic of finding lasting love after only a short time, the following experience happened to me:

I was interning at Bat Shalom in Jerusalem and after working a month and a half for the feminist nonprofit, my boss asked me if I was available that afternoon to meet her friend. Assuming it was a female colleague, I prepared some of the projects on which I was working. To my surprise, it turned out that her friend was her best friend’s nephew, Danny Isaacson. Danny was a fourth-year rabbinical student at Jewish Theological Seminary and was studying for the year in Jerusalem.

Once I recovered from the idea that my boss had set me up, I paid close attention to the sweet, kind man in our office. I instantly liked him, and invited him to see me perform in “The Vagina Monologues” at a nearby theater. He must have been impressed (or intimidated) because eight months later, in our sukkah in Brooklyn, he asked me to marry him. Candles on the floor spelled out the question “Marry me?” The answer (as it had been in my mind after only a month of knowing Danny) was, “Yes!”

We will be married in Occidental this summer, with Rabbi Stuart Kelman of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley officiating, and will honeymoon in Israel.

Liora Brosbe lives in Santa Rosa

A wartime meeting

In September 1939, when World War II broke out, I was almost 20 and just starting my second year as an architectural student at Cambridge University in England. That year I was also the secretary of the Jewish Society, where students conducted their own services and I often attended and participated on Shabbat. Toward the end of one service, I caught sight of a beautiful young lady in the company of her family. She pretended not to see me but long ago confessed that she expressed interest in me to her father.

Upon enquiry from a friend, I learned that her family — refugees from Nazi Germany — had evacuated from London to Cambridge to avoid the anticipated bombing attacks. My friend had been invited to her 17th birthday party and I begged him to get me an invitation. He kindly complied and, on the day, I made a beeline toward her and sat on the arm of her chair during the entire party. As the party ended, I quickly asked if I could see her home and from there our romance blossomed.

Less than a year later, I joined the British Navy and in July 1942, my beloved found herself marrying a naval officer after she decided to remain in England when her family departed for the United States. Almost 62 years have passed and we are still romantic soul mates, growing old together in California, which seduced us more than a half-century ago.

Leonard Michaels lives in San Mateo

A message from the universe

Picture this: My head was in the shampoo bowl, my ears were filled with water and my thoughts were elsewhere. Suddenly, I realized my hairdresser was bending close and saying something undistinguishable. I sat up abruptly to hear her repeat, “Jackie, are you dating anyone special now?” She seemed serious.

I had an impulse to laugh. In the 25 years since I had divorced my appropriate husband, a marriage made too early, I had dated many men, appropriate and otherwise. I shook my head. Seconds later my head was in a shampoo bowl again, and my hairdresser was gone. This time I could hear her talking to her mother. “Is David dating anyone special now?” She was back. “He’ll call you,” she said.

If I had learned anything in 25 years, it was that one had to be open to experience. So I merely asked, “Why do you think we would enjoy one another?” There was only the briefest pause. “Because you both are a little odd,” she said.

Truth to tell, I had met men for less droll reasons so when he called, we made a date. I wasn’t hopeful. We tried to go to a museum, a shared interest, but it was closed. Instead, he suggested the zoo. We sat down in front of the elephant pen, and as we sat talking one of the elephants got up on a rock and began to dance for us. I remember thinking, Ganesh, the god of new beginnings. “Pay attention woman,” I said to myself. “The universe is sending you a message.”

This is how I met my second husband. We have been together 10 years this June, and our relationship is better than ever! Oh, I shouldn’t forget to say my hairdresser was right: We both are a little odd.

Jackie Hackel lives in Oakland