Chicago-born Brett Baron hadn’t come to the Elevation Seminar to meet girls. He came because of a poster advertising the seminar that he’d seen at his Jerusalem yeshiva, which promised a spiritual experience. But his friend Josh pointed someone out.
Laurie Hoffinger had worked a long time on that poster: on its production, and making sure that it was widely distributed. She was the seminar manager and was thrilled with the turnout that Saturday night in March 2013.
“All those hours of hard work paid off,” says Laurie. “For the participants and for the difference it made in my personal life.”
Brett liked Laurie’s modest look and he sensed that they shared similar values. The next step was to ask the opinion of his matchmaker, Dorraine Weiss. That’s how it is done in Brett’s circle. But Laurie wasn’t in Dorraine’s data base. By the end of May, Brett simply asked Dorraine “to track her down.”
At the time, Laurie, then 27, was working at Neve Yerushalayim, The Jerusalem College for Jewish Women’s Studies. She had just contacted her travel agent about a ticket back to America, when a phone call changed her life.
The call was from Dorraine. Laurie had never met her, and she feared that it was a scam. She recalls: “Dorraine said there was a guy interested in me, but wouldn’t give me his name until after an interview. And she wanted me to come the very next day. It wasn’t easy to fit a 90-minute interview into my schedule, but I’m glad that I did.”
“It seemed like a good match to me from the beginning,” says Dorraine. “They shared the same goals for the future, and [focus on] a healthy lifestyle in the present.” Brett’s rabbi and Laurie’s rebbitzen also gave their stamps of approval.
Brett was getting ready to start a silent meditation retreat when he received four Voice Mail messages from Dorraine giving him the green light to date Laurie and to proceed immediately. Laurie and Brett had their first date on June 17. “But we broke a Dorraine Rule,” says Laurie. “Dorraine suggests a short first date, and we spent four hours together.”
For their second date, Laurie was asked to choose: Dinner or an adventure? She preferred to hike and Brett picked the venue – Lifta, a scenic village in the Jerusalem hills. Laurie had been there once before, when she received her classmate’s blessing: “May you come next time with your bashert (your intended one).” Now, that wish was coming true.
Laurie and Brett have similar backgrounds. Laurie is from Berkley, California, attended UC Berkley, and received an MSW from Boston University. She became Jewishly involved only in 2011 when she came to Israel on a Birthright trip with JAM, the Jewish Awareness Movement. And she stayed.
Brett, who is eighteen months younger than Laurie, has a degree in Marketing from Indiana University. He was influenced Jewishly by an outreach rabbi he met on campus who encouraged him to take a trip to Israel in 2010. He, too, stayed – first to work at a farm, and then to study at a yeshiva.
Brett and Laurie are grateful to the Almighty. “His plan is way better than what we could have come up with ourselves,” says Laurie. They appreciate their matchmaker, Dorraine, who was always there for them. “Even at midnight,” says Brett. And they thank Josh. “His keen intuition set the process in motion,” says Brett. “Now we have to help Josh find his bashert.”
Brett and Laure were married in a Chicago suburb on November 10, 2013 and will soon return to the States from Israel. Mazal tov.
Dr. Leah Hakimian currently researches the question: How Jewish couples meet and marry. In the 90’s she founded two nonprofit Jewish matchmaking programs, and continues to champion the role of community in helping singles meet. She resides in Jerusalem and Great Neck, New York