Gary Garrison, a playwright and author, is not even Jewish. But he gets the mitzvah points for introducing two of his friends in New York, Michelle and Josh.
In May 2009, Michelle Fadem dropped by to see Garrison. He was her former professor and a colleague in an online social network for over 3,000 playwrights called The Loop. "Most importantly, he’s one of my favorite people," adds Michelle.
The visit prompted Garrison to send an email to Josh Kashinsky, one of The Loop’s subscribers. The e-mail said: "Here’s the woman you gotta contact. Do it and don’t screw it up."
What made him think this could be a good match?
"I didn’t know if they’d make a good match, honestly," says Garrison. "But I did know they both have good souls. And regardless of whether they ever went out on a date, I thought they should know each other, if for no other reason, to know that there were like-minded people in the world. Also, they’re both in theater and have tremendous respect for artists. I knew there they’d find some common ground…"
Josh, who had met Garrison years earlier at a conference and stayed in touch, says the email was "like a command." He trusted Gary and he followed through.
Josh and Michelle had their first date on June 12, 2009. About 11 months later, when Michelle’s father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Josh came to St. Louis, Mo., to meet the family. When he joined in a family game of Scrabble, three of the words played especially stood out on the board – "wife," "ring," and "dowry." The signs were there.
Shortly thereafter, on June 13, 2010, Michelle’s father passed away, but not before giving the couple his blessing.
Michelle, 33, is a third-generation St. Louisan. Josh, 32, originally from the Bay Area in California, has much in common with the Fadems, especially a great respect for words. Michelle has an MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and is a published playwright; her mom, Susan, is a working journalist; her dad, Rod Fadem, was a stockbroker and also an author. Josh has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence, is a playwright and a freelance director.
"Josh is the kindest man I’ve ever known," says Michelle, "except for my father." Josh says of her: "Besides being beautiful and smart, she is selfless, caring and has a very big heart."
They love the razzle dazzle of the theater world. Michelle’s full-time job at Radio City Music Hall is as a production manager.
So setting is important. In January 2011, when the couple was in California to visit Josh’s parents (Marc Kashinsky and Eileen Eisenberg) and Michelle’s sister (Kimmie), Josh chose the rose garden of the Spanish Mission in Santa Barbara as the place to propose to Michelle.
In some ways, the couple’s future was already foretold. Josh’s mother remembered that in one of his sixth-grade essays, he wrote that his future achievements would include marrying a girl named Michelle.
Matchmaker Garrison, whom the couple refers to as an "honorary Jew," says: "I think it’s pretty remarkable when the stars line up, the light shines, and love finds its way to the surface."
There is another setting involved – her engagement ring. The stone is from Josh’s grandmother (the late Kate Kashinsky), and the setting is from Michelle’s grandmother (Charlotte Sherman). Michelle’s mother also wore this setting.
The couple will wed in St. Louis. The ceremony will be at Shaare Emeth Temple, and the reception at the home of Michelle’s aunt and uncle (Wendy and Mike Flotken), whose back yard happens to overlook the cemetery where the bride’s father and her grandfather, Nat Sherman, are buried. They’ll be watching over them.
Michelle and Josh are to be married on July 3, 2011. Mazal tov!