Rabbi Evan Ravski wore four hats at the wedding: officiant, brother of the bride, friend of the groom, and matchmaker. In his remarks under the chuppah, he told his sister: “I am proud to say: ‘I told you so.’ From the first time we saw the way you looked at one another, this day seemed as though it was inevitable.”
Their courtship began in 2012 when Rebecca Ravski was 24 years old and Mitchell (Mitch) Berkowitz was 23. Mitch was then a rabbinical student at New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS). His friend and classmate, Evan, was determined to set up Mitch with his sister, Rebecca. Mitch notes: “It took some time, some coercion, and maybe even some risk for us to agree to meet each other.”
It finally happened during one of the intermediate days of Sukkot, when they met for drinks at a bar on the Upper West Side of New York. Each had brought a friend, thinking it would be less awkward to meet each other in a small group. A few days later, the couple went to the movies alone for their first official date.
Evan did not know about the date and persevered in trying to make the match. Towards that goal, he invited Mitch and Rebecca, separately, to his home for dinner on Simchat Torah. Rebecca recalls: “We acted as if we had never met, exchanging awkward glances and trying our best to conceal our feelings.” However, later that evening, Mitch confessed to Evan that he was already dating Rebecca. Traditionally, Simchat Torah is a day of joy. Evan, the matchmaker, had another reason to rejoice.
During the week after Hurricane Sandy, both their schools were closed and they spent a lot of time together and with each other’s families. Rebecca, who grew up in Woodbridge Connecticut, had moved to New York City as a graduate student and received her master’s degree in literacy education from Columbia University. Her BA is from Syracuse University and she is currently a first-grade special education teacher at Public School 452 in New York.
Mitch, a New Jersey native, graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University. He spent the 2013-14 school year in Israel as part of his studies at JTS. “Thanks to Facetime, we managed the year apart,” smiles Rebecca. “It also helped that we knew it was only temporary, and we were able to visit each other during school vacations. But it was hard before Shabbat, during Shabbat, and after Shabbat.”
When he returned to the US, Mitch served as rabbinic intern in the Shelter Rock Jewish Center (SRJC) while finishing his studies at JTS. During his tenure, he was named Shelter Rock’s Man of the Year by the New York Metropolitan Region Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs.
Mitch proposed to Rebecca in March 2015. The couple started the day with the SRJC Zumba crew, followed by an early afternoon dance lesson. They then drove to Central Park and walked to the North Woods, where he got down on one knee and pulled out a ring, which had been a family heirloom. The day ended with an engagement celebration for family and friends.
Under the chuppah, Evan addressed his old friend, now his new brother-in-law. “You weren’t just someone dating my sister, but you had taken our family to be your own. In five short years you have made her entire family fall in love with you as well.”
Mitch and Rebecca were married on August 28, 2016 at Congregation B’nai Jacob in Woodbridge, Connecticut. 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.