They ate together and prayed together. The love came later.
Katherine Eckstein was living in Manhattan on 9/11 and was so shaken by the tragedy she felt she had to go to a religious service the following Saturday. This wasn't her usual practice. But it felt right.
The Saturday service was in Riverdale, New York. Dan Nadel, a guitarist and composer, was the musician-in-residence. The rabbi of the congregation was married to a rabbi – Eric and Jenny Solomon, respectively. Dan was Eric’s good friend; Katherine was Jenny’s good friend.
After the service, Dan and Katherine shared a ride back to Manhattan. They both remember the Senegalese food they ate afterwards. Dan also remembers his first impression of Katherine: “She was so very pretty.”
They dated briefly. Katherine called it quits. “I was 25, and I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know what I was looking for,” she says.
Flash forward a decade plus, to a birth in February 2012. The rabbi couple had a son. They were living in Raleigh, North Carolina and invited their good friends to the circumcision ceremony. “I just had to be there for this blessed event,” says Katherine. Dan felt the same way.
Dan looked for someone to share expenses. “I swallowed my pride and called Katherine. That’s how we met again.”
Dan and Katherine spent much of the next 24 hours together – taxi rides, flights, and the time of celebration in Raleigh. They shared a meal of Indian food.
“After returning from the brit, I was hoping for a sign from Katherine that she’d go out with me,” says Dan. “Though nothing was forthcoming, I risked it and decided to try one more time.” He sent her an email. “I was very pleased to get it,” says Katherine.
They got together at a nondescript place for Chinese food. “To cover ourselves, they didn’t call it a date,” recalls Dan, who’s a year older than Katherine.
The next Sunday, they went to a museum. “I love to see the world through Katherine’s eyes, says Dan, who received a BFA from the New School after immigrating to the U.S. from Israel.
They went out for three consecutive Sundays.
Then, when Katherine got sick, Dan brought her chicken soup. He took another chance and asked if he could kiss her. She agreed. In late August, Dan told Katherine his intention was to marry her. “Though I loved Dan, I wasn’t yet ready to commit to marriage,” says Katherine. “Still, I was happy to hear his intention – and knew that he wouldn’t wait forever.”
“It took me three months to reach a decision,” says Katherine, a native of Phoenix, who has a master’s degree in elementary education from Columbia University, and is chief of staff of the Children's Aid Society, a charity in New York.
They were sitting at a café when she blurted out: “I’d like to marry you.”
The Rabbis Solomon officiated at their wedding. “The miraculous birth of our son Natan (translation: giver) gave this wonderful couple the occasion to reconnect,” says Jenny. The caterers served Middle Eastern cuisine.
Dan and Katherine were married on June 9, 2013. Mazal tov!
Dr. Leah Hakimian currently researches the question: How do Jewish couples meet and marry? In the 1990’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.