Jonathan was simply looking for a weekend away. Lainee was somewhat reluctant, thinking, “These men—none of them are serious!” Yet both took a chance and went to a 2008 Memorial Day singles weekend at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires.
Neither Lainee nor Jonathan had been married before. Both dated a lot, always looking for the right person. “But we never gave up,” says Lainee.
Jonathan Grauman, a 50-something business analyst in Boston who grew up in a traditional conservative household, had been to Ramah weekends twice before. “I particularly liked the Jewish atmosphere,” he says. “It was easygoing, and there was something for everyone.”
A 40-something editor in Manhattan, Lainee Cohen lived in a modern Orthodox community where marriage is expected. But this goal is not always easy to attain. It can take initiative, persistence, and hard work. And a bit of good timing.
It was certainly good timing that both Jonathan and Lainee found themselves at the camp office at the same time. A mutual friend introduced them, and Jonathan flashed Lainee a beautiful smile. “Check one,” she thought. Later, the friend told Lainee, “I don’t know a thing wrong about him.” Check two.
Over tea and cake after dinner, Lainee learned that Jonathan attended Young Israel of Brookline. Check three.
The next morning, Lainee decided to take the initiative. She approached Jonathan at the kiddush after the morning service. “I hope this doesn’t seem too forward, but would you be my square dance partner tonight?”
Jonathan was delighted. “It was the beginning of the moment for us,” he recalls. Jonathan made the moments count, engaging Lainee in conversation throughout the weekend. He achieved a delicate balance—not being too possessive while still making it clear that he was interested in Lainee–a woman he describes as friendly, beautiful, lively, fun, and smart.
Still, it wasn’t a given that they were going to be a couple. Lainee had met someone else and felt it wise to keep her options open.
On the last day of the weekend, Lainee seized another opportunity. Though she’s not a morning person, she knew that Jonathan would be at the early breakfast and she made sure to be there as well. Breakfast led to a tennis game and then it was time for farewells. But not for long!
A week later, Jonathan drove to Manhattan from Boston and they had their first date. “The best date of my life,” says Jonathan.
A dating coach had encouraged Lainee to find out a guy’s dating intentions by the third date. Does he date for marriage? Lainee felt so comfortable with Jonathan that she asked him this question on their first date. Jonathan chuckled and answered, “Yes, I’m dating for marriage!”
Two weeks and numerous phone conversations later, Jonathan again went to New York. “Something remarkable was developing,” says Jonathan. “And I had visions of him under the chupah,” smiles Lainee. Before the weekend was over, they were committed to each other.
Everyone was happy – her parents in Bayside, New York; his dad in Florida; her brother and family in Israel; his brother and family in Manhattan; and Fung Wah Bus, which runs back and forth from Chinatown in New York to Boston. Jonathan and Lainee were regular commuters.
Come Labor Day and Jonathan proposed. He took Lainee on a horse and buggy ride in Central Park and offered her the engagement ring of his late mother.
A dear friend of Lainee’s had conspired with Jonathan, and the newly engaged couple returned to find Lainee’s apartment festively decorated. Among the flowers, banners, and chocolates was a mug with the words “Miracles do happen.”
Rabbi Gershon Gewirtz, who married the couple on December 14, 2008, summed it up: “Sometimes in life, we take circuitous paths before we arrive at our destination. Sometimes we are not even certain what this destination is. But when we arrive, we just know it.” Lainee and Jonathan definitely knew it!