“We were in the same crowds, but I didn’t see her,” says Tani Guterman. “It’s like Daniella was under the radar screen.” In the spring of 2012, Daniella Stein was a senior at Yeshiva University (YU) Stern College for Women, and Tani was a YU alum. They both came from Young Israel backgrounds – she, from Lawrence, New York, and he from Staten Island; and they both worked with children with special needs.
There was a lot of buzz in their circles about YUConnects, a matchmaking program sponsored by YU’s Center for the Jewish Future. “But at first, I thought it was the weirdest thing in the world to go through a matchmaker,” admits Daniella.
Still, she was open-minded and checked into the program. She noted their sterling reputation and impressive statistics – over 300 singles had been successfully matched, with real names posted at their website. The fee was minimal and she liked the system – after signing up online, the volunteer matchmakers (connectors) do the work for you.
Mrs. Hannah Feigenbaum (Mrs. F) became the YU connector between Tani, then 24, and Daniella, then 20. Though she lives in Jerusalem and knew them only through their profiles, Mrs. F had a feeling that they were a good fit. In fact, she comments: “They seemed perfect for each other.”
Mrs. F. emailed Daniella’s profile to Tani for his consideration. His response: “She sounds like a winner.” Next step – Mrs. F. forwarded Tani’s profile to Daniella. According to the program guidelines, Daniella had ten days to accept or reject the offer. She has a good feeling about Tani and consulted with a friend, who was supportive. On the sixth day, Daniella accepted. “I sweated out those days,” says Tani, “but Daniella was worth it.”
They had their first date on May 13, 2012 in Oceanside, New York. “In the middle of our conversation, Daniella got up to open the door for a man with disabilities,” recalls Tani. “I knew then she was special.” They are both compassionate people. As an undergraduate, Tani was president of the YU Charity and Kindness Club. And they are both in the helping professions. Daniella is a middle school teacher in Brooklyn as she pursues an MS in Jewish Education, and Tani completed his studies towards a BS/MS in Occupational Therapy from Long Island University.
For their first four dates, they kept their connector in the loop. “It’s not always easy to be a matchmaker,” asserts Mrs. F. “But it was a pleasure working with Tani and Daniella. They are a very sweet couple.”
“In the beginning only one friend knew I was dating Tani,” says Daniella. In fact, during that time, another friend called to fix her up. With whom? With Tani Guterman. It was too late for the friend to get the mitzvah points for the match. Mrs. F. thought of it first.
Daniella and Tani are caring people. “From an early stage in our dating period, we would try to set up our mutual friends,” says Tani. They care about the world – Daniella rarely honks her car horn. And they care about each other. As Daniella’s friend likes to say – “Tani would move the moon for Daniella.”
On October 14, 2012, while walking on the High Line, New York’s elevated park, Tani proposed to Daniella. “I may not be perfect,” says Tani, “but I try my best for Daniella and I know she is perfect for me.” Mrs. F. said it first.
Daniella and Tani were married on March 12, 2013. 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