In her books, lectures and radio broadcasts, Jennifer Wilkov advises singles: “Go out and do what you love.” Jennifer took her own advice and that was how she met Andy (Andrew) Akers. They both love to study Torah and met at a Torah study group. She was 45, and he, 51.
Jennifer began her studies in her own conservative congregation and continued at a women’s class at a nearby Chabad synagogue. But she felt most comfortable in the Saturday morning class at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue (BHS), a congregation affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism.
Andy had belonged to BHS for over ten years and had the following routine: He attended the Torah study group, which he called “the coolest book club,” and afterwards, he’d put on his earphones, listen to music and leave. Andy loves music and plays drums in a band.
On the Shabbat of May 11, 2013, he changed his routine. After class, he approached Jennifer, who’d come to look for a mezuzah at the synagogue’s Marion Cohen Gift Shop. They started a conversation and exchanged business cards. The mezuzah brought them both good luck.
Later, when Andy googled Jennifer, he was impressed with her accomplishments. After graduating Syracuse University, Jennifer became an award-winning author, an empowering lecturer, journalist and media personality. Andy notes: “What turns me on most about Jennifer is her mind. She’s smart and also beautiful.”
Andy is a graduate of Columbia University’s School of Engineering, where he received a BS in Operations Research and an MS in Financial Engineering. He is currently a senior adviser at Urban Investment Partners, a Washington D.C. real estate development and investment firm.
“When I met Jennifer, my first marriage was over,” Andy explains. “I was separated with two grown children and ready to move on.” Jennifer’s first marriage had ended in divorce without children.
About a week after they met, their first date was on Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. “I still have the $2 ticket from that ride,” smiles Andy. They soon became activity partners as they both enjoy walking in the neighborhood. Jennifer also introduced Andy to yoga.
Before meeting Andy, Jennifer had written a “Dear G-d” letter describing what kind of guy she wanted to meet. “Most important was that we would share the same values. When you meet someone at the synagogue, that is likely to be the case.”
After six months, Andy asked Jennifer to move in with him. But first they had to work out the issue of their pets—she had two cats and he had a dog. “We couldn’t live together until we could get the pets together. It could have been a deal-breaker if it didn’t work out,” Jennifer said. “After his dog fell in love with one of my cats, we moved in.”
When asked what makes them a good couple, they both agree. “Communication. We’re very good at saying what we think and how we feel. We don’t hold things back.” Jennifer adds: “We’re like peas and carrots. We just fit. “
In May 2017, one day after his divorce was finalized, Andy got down on one knee and proposed in front of the Marion Cohen Gift Shop, the place they’d first met.
They celebrated their wedding on June 24, 2018 at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, where Rabbi Serge Lippe, the community’s spiritual leader, officiated. For their marriage program, the couple wrote: “We believe our coming together was bashert [meant to be] and feel overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation.”
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.