Michael Kosky met Elana Einhorn at a Shabbat dinner in the Lone Soldier Center in Jerusalem in September 2016. “It was my first time at the Center,” says Michael, who had planned to stay home that Friday night. “I had a hard week in the army and hadn’t slept much. I was exhausted, but my friend Haim insisted that I go.”
Elana had been working at the Center for about two years, most of the time as a volunteer. “I too was really tired on that Friday and thought I’d skip the dinner that night. But I made myself go.”
“We were seated at different tables, but I noticed Elana almost immediately,” Michael, 26, recalls. “But I was too shy to walk over to her. I am thankful to Haim for making the introduction.”
Haim had been Michael’s friend from the time they made aliyah together from England. He knew Elana from the Center. “When they started dating, I understood that it could get serious,” says Haim.
“When we met, we were both dating for marriage,” notes Elana. They didn’t lose any time. Soon after Shabbat, Elana sent Michael a friend request on Facebook. He asked her out as he boarded a flight to London to spend Rosh Hashana with his family. On the morning of his return to Jerusalem, they met for brunch. “Every time we were together, we would talk for hours,” smiles Elana. Three weeks later, walking in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, they both realized they were getting serious about each other.
They came from different continents, but had the common denominator of Zionism. In 1995, when she was in third grade, Elana made aliya with her family from California. After high school, she went to New York and graduated Touro College in 2010. Since then, Jerusalem has been her home. The week she met Michael, she received her Master’s degree from The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya with a major in Communications and New Media. She currently works in marketing for a travel startup.
Michael describes his connections to the country. “When I was six, I saw a group of soldiers at the kotel (Western Wall) and I declared to my dad that one day I wanted to be one of those. It was never a question whether to make aliyah, the question was when?” In 2013 Michael received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Leeds in philosophy and politics. That summer he made aliyah with Garin Tzabar, a support system for lone soldiers. In February 2018, he will finish his army service as an officer.
There are currently over 6300 lone soldiers in Israel. The Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin is concerned with their needs and struggles. On their wall in Jerusalem are the photos of scores of couples who met at Center events.
“Dating a soldier is a challenge,” reveals Elana. “If Michael could get home, I’d make myself free. It’s important to find quality time together and to make your time together really count. But also to make it as normal as possible. “It’s hard, but it’s worth it in the end.”
The timing for their engagement was determined by the army. Michael would propose when he could get a 3-day leave. But he would decide on the place – Mishkenot Sha’ananim – the neighborhood where they’d had a special date nine months earlier. Michael and Elana got engaged in July 2017 and were married on kibbutz Ma’aleh Hahamisha on November 20, 2017.
Michael Kosky is no longer a lone soldier.
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.