According to Aviva, many of her medical school girlfriends wished to become the wife of their classmate, Dr. Michael Harris. But Michael looked outside their circle. He married Aviva’s sister, Molly Teitelbaum, a filmmaker. Medicine meets the arts.
For several years, Michael and Aviva had been friends at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, and planned to introduce their families at their graduation in May 2012. They even had the idea to set up their siblings. But Michael saw Molly first. He was running on a Tel Aviv beach when he caught a glimpse of her. Though they didn’t meet up again that summer, Michael remembers that he already felt a spark from that first brief encounter. As he says, “The seed had been planted.”
In the fall, Molly, a Canadian, returned to McGill University as a senior, and Michael, a New Yorker, began his residency in the Bronx. Molly and her mom frequently came to visit Aviva in New York and Michael would sometimes join them for dinner. Aviva confided in Michael that Molly seemed to have a crush on him. Michael’s response: “She’s really cute, but the age difference is too great.” Michael was then 31 and Molly, 21.
Still, a strong bond was developing between Michael and Molly. They would frequently discuss their dating woes and the problem of ghosting. Her interest in this subject eventually led Molly to develop the website: haveyoubeenghosted.com
Molly reflects: “Michael was in a different place than me. He had girlfriends since he was 14. But he was my first real love. I always felt comfortable with him. The age difference didn’t bother me at all.”
In 2013, Molly moved to Manhattan to attend Parsons School of Design, where she later received her MFA. Michael reminisces: “I had wanted to date Molly from the beginning, but I decided to move slowly. It was great that we lived in the same neighborhood. We’d have these non-date dates at different cafes in the Lower East Side, both of us drinking tea. I’d always walk her home, but not quite to her doorstep. I was taking baby steps. After I finally walked her all the way home, I took a leap and invited her for a home cooked dinner – ‘the stir fry seducer.’ From the summer of 2014, we were a couple.”
Michael and Molly have much in common. Both have strong ties to their families. As Molly notes: “Michael phones his 94 year-old grandmother, Nelly Harris, several times a day and credits her with being the most influential person in his life.”
Both have strong Jewish connections. “I’m a proud unapologetic Jew,” asserts Molly, which is not typical of my artsy friends. Furthermore, I’m an unabashed Zionist.” Before his medical studies in Tel Aviv, Michael graduated from Brandeis University and received a Master’s in public health from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
And both like to set up friends. “We’re very much in each other’s worlds,” continues Molly. “And the highlight of our week is playing soccer together.”
Michael is currently a staff pediatrician at NYC Health and Hospitals/Jacobi and an assistant professor in pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “But Michael doesn’t bring home stress,” emphasizes Molly. “His sense of humor was the biggest attraction for me.”
In January 2016, while driving on the FDR Expressway, Molly brought up the question of marriage. “I would have married her three months after we first met,” smiles Michael.
Molly and Michael were married on September 16, 2017 at the National Gallery of Canada. 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.