Editor's Note: A quote within the article was edited for clarity. It was originally published as, '“I was looking for a mother for my children,” says Gil,' and was adjusted to, '"I was looking for a [step] mother for my children,” says Gil.'
“Elections, shmelections…Of course, I have time for you,” said Gil Hoffman, when responding to a Facebook question from Maayan Jaffe. It was a hectic time for Gil, chief political correspondent for The Jerusalem Post – only a month before the Israeli elections in March 2015. Still, Gil made the time. “And I always respected Maayan,” he adds.
Gil, 39, and Maayan, 38, first met in 2001 a few years after graduating from college – he, from Northwestern University, and she, from Washington University. They were both young journalists at The Jerusalem Post. After Maayan returned to the United States and assumed senior-level positions in the Jewish communities of Baltimore and Kansas City, they stayed in touch professionally. Gil was one of her go-to people when she wanted an analysis of the Israeli political scene. She smiles: “He was and is THE expert.”
But when Maayan facebooked Gil in February 2015, she was not asking for his political opinion. She wanted some personal advice: how to handle her first weekend away from her children. Maayan had gotten divorced after a nearly thirteen year marriage and four children – then ages 11, 7, 4, and 2. While at a professional dinner in the fall of 2014, Josh Runyan, who had replaced Maayan as editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times, told her about Gil’s divorce. Josh’s wife was best friends with Gil’s ex.
“I had not wanted a divorce,” admits Gil. ‘Even if there were issues, I wanted to stay with my children every day.” But, after 11 years and two children, then ages 5 and 7, his divorce was finalized in 2014.
Gil shared with Maayan strategies that worked for him as a single dad, and their online conversations soon expanded. Around Passover time, when he rushed to tell Maayan some happy family news, he realized that Maayan had become his go-to person for sharing special moments. “I really should pursue Maayan,” he decided.
They were living in different countries, so they began to “date by Skype.” Gil would take her to the Western Wall and other meaningful sites around Jerusalem. At his favorite restaurant he told the waitress: “We need a table for two: Maayan on my iPad.” They could keep up with each other because Maayan kept crazy hours and didn’t need a lot of sleep. “She’s a short sleeper,” says Gil. “Just like Thomas Jefferson.”
Gil has speaking engagements around the globe, and in June 2015, he addressed the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York. Maayan covered the same conference as a reporter for JNS (Jewish News Service). Being a two-journalist couple has its perks. It was their first meet-up since their divorces and they went rowing for their first “live date.”
It was a fun weekend and a time for some serious talk. “I had been trying to move back to Israel for the last decade,” reflects Maayan, “but wasn’t sure when or how to make it happen….When I realized that all my children were on board and my then 12-year-old son needed a year in Israel before his bar mitzvah, I knew it was time.” Within two months, Maayan fielded five job offers in Israel, closed one life in Overland Park, Kansas, and opened a new life for herself and her children in Jerusalem.
A LinkedIn member wrote about Maayan: “She is the hardest working individual I have ever encountered.” Gil interjects: “Actually….who ever lived!”
Before Rosh Hashana, Gil arranged for a private Kotel tunnel tour in the Old City of Jerusalem. At the alcove behind the spot where the Holy of Holies had been located, Gil handed Maayan cards made by his two children: They wrote: “Maayan, please marry my daddy.”
“I was looking for a [step] mother for my children,” says Gil. “And I just knew that Maayan would be the right one.” When she started thinking about remarrying, Maayan wanted someone about her age, with children, and with a successful career. In other words, Gil Hoffman.
At the wedding, Gil walked down the aisle to the music of Rascal Flatts, “Bless the Broken Road:”
I think about the years I spent just passing through
I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there you understand
It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true.
Gil and Maayan were married in Jerusalem on December 6, 2015. 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.
Editor's comment: We appreciate your comments below and sincerely apologize for any offense caused. We understand this in extremely sensitive and nuanced topic and never meant to diminish the importance of one parent over another. The quote has now been adjusted for clarity and we will be more mindful when reporting these stories in the future.