“What took you so long?” [to ask out Mira] the rabbi asked, while standing under the chupa. Steven Schwell, the 53 year-old grooms admits, “I didn’t have a good answer.”
Mira Scharf began her professional career in California after receiving a BS in Animal Physiology from the University of California, San Diego and an MFA in Animation from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently she is a graphic designer for the ABC Television group in Manhattan and manages the Disney Billboard in Times Square. She also teaches at the Pratt Institute.
Mira was 38 when she moved to the Upper West Side of New York with the hope of broadening her social networks within the Modern Orthodox community. She met Steven at a Shabbat lunch hosted by her roommate. Steven describes this early period of their relationship: “Periodically we would see each other in large groups and, occasionally, I would give her a ride. For about five years, we were casual friends.”
When someone outside her circle asked Mira if she was interested in being set up with Steven, she responded, “If he’s interested, he will ask.” That had always been her mantra.
In 2011 there was a turning point. A mutual friend heard that Mira was teaching at Touro College and asked Mira to inquire about a job for Steven. Touro hired Steven, who has a MS. in Computer Science from Columbia University. Though the job was short term, Steven appreciated Mira’s intervention, and he invited her out to dinner. “It was the first time the two of us went out alone. Basically, it was a non-date date,” explains Mira.
“I liked Mira,” says Steven, “but I had given up on getting married. I had a number of failed relationships and I was avoiding any type of serious relationship. For me, it was a fear thing and I had decided to be single for the rest of my life.”
Nevertheless, they continued to have non-date dates. Then, in 2015, Mira took the initiative. After having a Shabbat meal together at a friend’s house, Mira called Steven that night to see if he had plans. “I did, but I cancelled them,” notes Steven. They watched a movie together and then Mira blurted out the question: “Steve, do you think we have any chemistry? Steve immediately replied: “Yes.”
Over the next week, Steven mulled over the question. He thanks Mira for planting the seed. “But I didn’t ask him out,” smiles Mira.
Steven applauds Mira: “She inspired me to take a chance. She could accept my weirdness and deal with me. She makes me calm and makes me feel better about myself. I decided to move forward, even though I was anxious.”
While visiting Israel in January 2016, Steven proposed to Mira in Jerusalem at the Western Wall Plaza. “I felt love and couldn’t resist it anymore,” says Steven.
The couple agrees that “things could happen you never thought would happen.” His friends were incredulous. Her friends said: Mira’s story gives us hope. Mira recalls: “What gave me hope was the story of my uncle who met the love of his life when he was 62, and they were happily married for 30 years.”
Mira and Steven were married on May 8, 2016 at the Fair Lawn Jewish Center in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Rabbi Naftali Citron from Mira’s congregation, the Carlebach Shul, and Rabbi Aaron Mehlman from Steven’s congregation, Ohev Shalom, co-officiated the wedding.