"The happiest couples, it seems, are those who met through church," concludes Laura Blue, Time Magazine correspondent. "These partners report the highest overall relationship satisfaction."
Abby, 26, and Isaac, 28, agree. They started dating when they were both working at Chizuk Amuno Synagogue in Baltimore.
In 2005, Abby Kogen and Isaac Woloff shared an office. Abby, a Goucher College graduate was the coordinator of congregational education and Isaac, a Temple University alum, was the congregational youth director. "We were best friends," says Abby. "And we were working partners," adds Isaac.
But outside of the synagogue, Isaac and Abby went their separate ways. About two years later, Isaac reassessed his situation.
Instead of thinking about Abby as a girl friend, he began thinking about her as a girlfriend. "And, early on, I began thinking about Isaac as the guy I wanted to marry," says Abby.
It’s often said that the greatest relationships grow from great friendships.
According to a 2009 survey reported in Forbes.com, four out of ten workers say they’ve dated a colleague at some point in their careers. "The office has turned into the village of the 21st century," says journalist Helaine Olen. "Where else do you spend 12 hours a day?"
Though they didn’t read any manuals on the subject of dating in the workplace, Abby and Isaac followed their good instincts, those same instincts which make them both such outstanding educators. In retrospect, they realized that they followed all the rules (written and unwritten).
Marty Nemko, in an article in US News and World Report, gives tips for workplace dating and advises couples to keep their relationship a secret as long as possible.
"And that’s just what we did," says Isaac. "But we did tell our boss," says Abby. Abby and Isaac both have the same supervisor. Rabbi Ronald Shulman, the congregational rabbi of Chizuk Amuno, assured them that he would never put them in a supervisor-supervisee relationship (at least, not in his synagogue).
Almost universally, employees are advised to avoid a love relationship with one’s boss, even if this doesn’t violate company policy.
Clearly, there are perils inherent in workplace dating. Yet Nemko, who himself met his wife at work, cites the upside: "Before getting involved, we got to check each other out in real-life situations rather than, for example, peering at each other through the fog of bars and booze."
On a trip to Israel in 2009, Isaac proposed to Abby on a Tel Aviv beach shortly before Shabbat. "My father was getting the son he always wanted to have," say Abby, who is one of three sisters.
Abby’s father, Rabbi Judah Kogen, is a pulpit rabbi in Staten Island. "I grew up in shuls," says Abby, "and if you’re not careful, working in a shul can be a 24/7 job. Thank G-d, Isaac watches the boundaries. Since Shabbat is also a ‘working day’ for us, Isaac reminds me when it’s time for us to go home."
"It’s fun to work together with my best friend," says Abby. "And we also have fun together outdoors." They especially enjoy bike riding and rock climbing. And at home, she does the cleaning, and he does the cooking. "His challa is the best," says Abby.
Their wedding took place at Chizuk Amuno Congregation, with Rabbi Kogen and Rabbi Shulman co-officiating. "This marriage was meant to be," said Rabbi Kogen.
Isaac and Abby were wed on June 6, 2010. Mazal tov!