“This is a story how music and dancing can bring people together,” writes the Times of Israel editor. He was referring to the production of Hairspray. It’s also the story of Rachel Weisblatt and Yehiel Lock.
In the spring of 2013, Rachel, then 19, played the leading role in the Jerusalem production of Hairspray. She recounts: “I always loved to sing and dance but had never sung in front of an audience. When I finally decided to try out, I missed the auditions by two weeks because I was busy with my second year of National Service. I need to thank my twin sister for convincing me to send a recording to the director.”
When meeting Rachel, one is reminded of the Hairspray review written by the Jerusalem Post critic: “Rachel Weisblatt plays the curvy, toe-tapping heroine…funky spirit…infectious energy and smile light up the stage. She is a blushing natural whose clear, strong voice and dancing – with an attitude – make it hard to believe this is her first play.”
Yehiel routinely played the clarinet in Jerusalem productions, but he missed out on Hairspray because there was no role for a clarinetist. Rachel notes: “It was fine that we didn’t meet then. It wasn’t the right time.” Two months later, Rachel met Yehiel at a barbecue where they celebrated Israel Independence Day with a group of young musicians and actors.
“It was an ideal setting for romance,” recalls Rachel. “It was a fun and happy scene with music everywhere – everyone singing and dancing. When Yehiel eyed me, I was on the guitar and he was playing the clarinet.”
“I wanted to call Rachel the next day but I didn’t have her number,” recalls Yehiel, “So I facebooked her.” How did she respond? “With a post on my Facebook wall: clarinet soul mates.” Rachel had played the clarinet for six years.
After a month of Facebook friendship, the couple had their first date, a classical music concert. “Only after we were engaged did I tell Yehiel that I fell asleep during the concert,” smiles Rachel.
Some of her friends and family members raised the issue of age difference – Rachel is eight years younger than Yehiel. Her retort: “I’m a stubborn person and knew what was good for me. I knew that he was my soul mate. How did I know? I just knew.”
She continues: “At the time, I wasn’t looking to get married. I was determined that I would first receive a college degree. Still, I wouldn’t give up on Yehiel. He has a heart of gold. He makes everyone feel good about themselves.” Yehiel, who is a graduate of the Jerusalem Academy of Music, works in several schools and gives private lessons on the clarinet and as a Bar Mitzva teacher.
Besides their music connection, the couple comes from similar backgrounds. Both have American-born parents and were raised in modern Orthodox homes. When she was a toddler, Rachel’s family made aliyah from Highland Park, New Jersey, to Bet Shemesh. Yehiel, born in Jerusalem, grew up in the community of Efrat.
Three months after they met, Yehiel proposed. Rachel was convinced they’d get engaged a month later when some family members were coming from the US. “I just didn’t want to wait,” explains Yehiel. Still, they agreed to wait seven more months to get married. Rachel was studying math and biology at Hebrew University and was beginning to work as a make-up artist.
“I’m not perfect,” says Rachel, “and neither is Yehiel. But we’re perfect together.” Their wedding, of course, was a musical celebration.
Yehiel and Rachel were married on February 17. 2014. 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.