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How Michael and Helen Met

How Michael and Helen Met

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.

Helen and Michael courtesy of Mason Resnick.
Helen and Michael courtesy of Mason Resnick.

In May 2018, Michael Lewyn, who was then 54, searched for “librarian” at the Jewish dating site, JWed.  Though never married, he had good feelings about the librarians he had dated in the past.

When the search led him to the profile of Helen Teitelbaum, he emailed her.  Michael: “Several months passed and I didn’t hear back from her, so I sort of forgot her.” Fast forward to September, when they both happened to be in JFK at the same time.

Helen was at the airport to send off her daughter, who was leaving for a gap-year program in Israel. Michael was at the same El-Al terminal to bid farewell to his niece from Atlanta.  It turns out that the two teenagers were headed to the same seminary in Israel and would become close friends.

Michael and Helen started a casual conversation, but neither mentioned their original online connection, though they were both aware of it.

Michael: “When she said she was a librarian from Highland Park, New Jersey, I assumed she was the woman from JWed. But she never responded to my first email, so I assumed she wasn’t interested and I didn’t bring it up.”

As soon as Helen saw Michael at the airport, she recognized him from his picture on JWed.  She also remembered her first impression of him: “I almost never came across anyone I could see myself with, but he seemed like someone I could like.”

Helen: “I didn’t say anything to him at the airport because my parents were with me.” But on the way home, she texted Michael and explained why she hadn’t responded to his email the previous May: “I couldn’t respond via JWed because I was no longer a paid member.  Also, I was a single mom busy getting my daughter ready for her Israel trip.”

Helen graduated from the University of Maryland College Park and has a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Studies from Rutgers University. She is a public librarian and book indexer.

Michael is an associate professor at Touro Law Center in Central Islip, New York. He teaches property, land use and environmental law. Originally from Atlanta, he graduated from Wesleyan University and received his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Michael: “I used to date younger women with the thought of marriage and children.  But that didn’t happen. About the time I turned 50, I reassessed things. Giving up on children gave me a new lease on life. I could then explore an entire new age bracket.  Luckily, I met Helen.”

Michael lived in Manhattan and Helen lived in Highland Park, New Jersey. They had their first date in Far Rockaway, New York on October 5, 2018. Follow up dates were often in New York, as they both love the city.

One month later, Michael met Helen’s parents. And two months later, Michael introduced Helen to his mom.  Michael: “I believe in the vetting process.”

At the end of January, 2019, Michael proposed to Helen next to the public library on 41st and 5th.

As Helen told Rabbi Jason Herman, their rabbi at the West Side Jewish Center: “I feel like a 20 year old in love.  I never thought I could fall in love again.”

Helen and Michael were married at the West Side Jewish Center on July 4, 2019. Helen walked down the aisle to the lyrics of “Marian the Librarian” from “The Music Man.”

What can I do, my dear, to catch your ear
I love you madly, madly Madam Librarian

Rabbi Herman officiated. 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.

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