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How Adam met Melissa

How Adam met Melissa

Dr. Leah Hakimian is a Jewish Week online columnist. She 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.

Horseradish was more important than romance. That was the hard truth for Melissa Gold, who had a fellow very interested in her but she had to attend to business. He wanted to go out. She had to think of Passover and the Seder table.

Melissa was a graduate of Syracuse University (business studies) and a fifth generation worker in the family firm: Gold Pure Food Company. Her father is the president of the kosher condiment firm in Hempstead, New York. Millions of jars of Gold horseradish had to be ready for the holiday. She hoped that Adam would wait.

The couple was set up by their two maternal grandmothers in the winter of 2007. Grandma Jeannie gave a presentation at her Yiddish group in a New Jersey retirement community and included a photograph of her granddaughter, Melissa. Grandma Ruthy saw the photo, heard that the girl was single, 26, grew up on Long Island and lived in Manhattan and said: "Then I’ve got the boy for her – my grandson, Adam Gottlieb, 32, unattached, who also grew up in Long Island and is now living in New York."

In due course, and with permission, Melissa’s work phone number was passed to Adam. She had a policy: "I would go out with anyone once," says Melissa.

"When Adam called, we had a great phone conversation, and then I started waiting for some follow up," recalls Melissa. After waiting a month, she decided to be proactive and sent Adam an email. She asked him directly: "Do you want to meet up with me? Would you like to get together at an East Side bar on March 21?"

Adam had studied marketing and his credo was: "I like to get things started, take action, and find out the results." But he had misread Melissa. "I didn’t think she was interested in me, so I didn’t bother to call [back]. I was happy to be wrong, happy to get her email, and happy to meet her on March 21."

Their first date lasted for over two hours. "Something clicked for both of us," says Adam. This time he didn’t hesitate. He called her the next day.

Then, the horseradish intervened. Adam was understanding. He was already "head over heels" in love with Melissa. And he quickly learned to love her family, though it was a cultural shock for him. Adam was an only child, and an evening with the Gold clan could be like a scene from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

"I introduced Adam to extended family, and he opened my eyes to outdoor sports, like rafting and zip lining," says Melissa. "Adam is strong and gentle. He’s like a gentle teddy bear."

He’s also creative. Eighteen months after their first date, Adam gave Melissa a canister filled with puzzle pieces. When she put the pieces together, she happily noted a marriage proposal. "I want to spend our lives together – putting together the pieces of the puzzle," said Adam.

Grandma Ruthy, who so liked the pretty girl in the photo, didn’t live to see that moment. "But she was so happy knowing that Melissa and I were a couple," says Adam. "The day she met Melissa, I remember her saying: ‘Don’t cry when I’m not around anymore. I want you to live for your happiness.’"

When selecting bridesmaids, Melissa, in her inimitable way, went beyond what’s expected. She also invited six of her mom’s closest friends to walk down the aisle.

Like the matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof, Yenta is also the Yiddish name of Grandma Jeannie. How did Yenta feel at the wedding? "A blessing on her head."

Melissa and Adam were married on November 14, 2009. Mazal tov!

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