“I was looking for a friend, and I fell in love with my friend,” smiles Amelia Wolf. “Our story began on the first day of orientation at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in August 2011, when I was 19. I was wearing a t-shirt with a design from my favorite TV show Avatar the Last Airbender. When I got out of the car, I saw someone waving at me enthusiastically. Elise Ringo, then 18, was the first person I met in college.”
Elise: “It’s not that we had a shared past. We had never intersected before. But I had decided to put myself out there and make friends early.”
Amelia: “It felt like a very powerful friendship from early on. We had a lot of overlapping interests besides Avatar.” Amelia and Elise are passionate readers and both love fantasy. They shared some of the same classes at Reed and graduated together in 2015; Elise with a BA in English Literature and Amelia with a BA in Anthropology and a concentration in Linguistics.
They are both from the Northwest – Amelia from Portland, Oregon and Elise from Seattle, Washington and they share a love of nature. During the summer after their freshman year, Amelia went to visit Elise in her hometown. Amelia: “When I looked out the window and saw Elise coming, I realized all of a sudden that I loved her – and not just as a friend. I loved her passionately. I was sure that she would never love me back in that way. I didn’t even know if she was attracted to women.”
During the winter break of their sophomore year, Amelia took the leap and said to Elise: “Let’s talk about our feelings.”
Elise: “For a long time I didn’t really know what I wanted. It took me a while to figure out that the reason I didn’t notice when I fell in love was because our friendship had transitioned so naturally for me.”
They returned to college as a couple and because of their love of books, many of their dates were at Powell’s, a local bookstore. Elise is currently an associate marketing manager for Simon Schuster Books in New York City.
The couple moved to Brooklyn after college and Amelia enrolled at the Hadar Institute and continued at the Drisha Institute, where she studied and worked. For two years, she was a development and communications associate at Sefaria. Currently, Amelia is a second year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary and is spending the 2019-20 school year at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem and at the Schocken Institute.
Amelia grew up in a traditional Jewish home. Her father, Rabbi Joey Wolf, known as “Rabbi Joey,” was ordained in the Conservative movement and was the rabbi of the Reconstructionist havurah, Havurah Shalom, for over thirty years.
Elise’s parents are religious Christians, who were comfortable with Elise’s conversion to Judaism the week before Shavuot, 2018. Both sets of parents came to her Bat Mitzva.
Amelia and Elise agree: “By the time we talked about getting married, it was clear to us that the wedding was going to be between two Jews.” Amelia proposed to Elise at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.
Rabbi Joey will be officiating at the wedding. They will follow the guidelines for same-sex wedding rituals in accordance with the 2012 Standards of the Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly.
Amelia and Elise are in agreement regarding their marriage ceremony. They do, however, have a difference of opinion regarding a Pesach tradition. Elise eats kitniyot (legumes), whereas Amelia does not.
The couple is to wed on August 2, 2020, in the woods in Portland, Oregon. Mazal tov.
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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.