BBYO camp sparks a love story

Adam Arenstein and Erica Hymen, both 27, met each other 12 years ago at a leadership summer camp organized by the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization.

They were good friends for a year before they began dating. Because Adam lived in Canton, Ohio, and Erica lived in Chicago, and because cell phones were not yet a teen’s third hand, their long telephone conversations drove up their parents’ phone bills.

Throughout high school, they visited each other frequently. They both attended Ohio State University, and after graduation moved to San Francisco, where they still live.

The couple married in Mill Valley on Sept. 21.

Something old: Adam and Erica had their ceremony and reception at the Outdoor Art Club in Mill Valley (a Registered Historical Landmark). About 100 years ago, 35 civic-minded Mill Valley women founded the clubhouse. The grounds are still home to a progressive women’s organization.

The gardens and building were designed by architecture great Bernard Maybeck and “provided a unique setting that represented what we love about the Bay Area,” Erica said.

Something new: “It was important to us to have a ketubah that represented us in a personal and meaningful way,” Erica said. The couple wrote the text together and then had help from Erica’s Hebrew teacher to translate it into Hebrew.

“Next, we worked with a papercut artist to find the symbols and visual images that could represent our relationship,” Erica said. “We incorporated many details in the cuts of paper, including our parents’ and grandparents’ Hebrew names in the roots of a large eucalyptus tree and the shape of the moon as it was on our wedding date.”

Something borrowed: “Erica’s late great-uncle, Rabbi Richard Israel, was the go-to officiant for every family wedding over the last 40 years,” Adam said. “In loving memory, we borrowed a tallit of his that was passed down to his grandson (Erica’s cousin Jacob Goldberg) and draped it onto our chuppah.”

Added Erica, “It was a meaningful way to feel Uncle Dick’s presence as we stood together under the chuppah.”

Something Jew(ish): The couple said they were inspired by a May article in j. about the mikvah and decided to experience it for the first time a few days before their wedding.

“We visited separately, but had similar experiences of feeling ‘centered,'” Adam said. “The mikvah provided a calming, quiet way to mark the transition that was about to occur in our lives. It also gave us a powerful connection to one of the oldest spiritual practices in Judaism.”

Stacey Palevsky

Stacey Palevsky is a former J. staff writer.