Sheldon Low and Hadar Orshalimy make music together. The two musicians blend together both in their professional lives and in their personal lives. Thirty years ago, they were living more than 6000 miles apart.
Hadar was born in Tel Aviv to an Iranian father and an American mother. After serving in the Israeli army for two years, she was recruited by Herzl Camp in Wisconsin. Since she was a singer, they registered her for the Hava Nashira Songleading Workshop (Hava).
Sheldon was born in St. Louis, Missouri and he, too, was at Hava in 2001. It was a brief encounter, but he remembers telling Hadar that his St. Louis friend, Danny, would also be at Herzl Camp.
Three years later, Danny’s wife, Melissa, would become their matchmaker. Sheldon was then beginning his senior year at Tufts University, where he studied Mechanical Engineering.
After studying for two years in Israel at the “Rimon School of Music,” Hadar was accepted at the “Berklee School of Music” as a scholarship student. She came to Boston without knowing anyone. Melissa encouraged Sheldon and Hadar to look each other up.
Sheldon recalls: “I got a phone call on September 4, 2004 from Hadar, who proceeded to expound on some struggles of a new immigrant – like getting a cell phone and opening a bank account. Forty-five minutes later, I invited her to a party.”
Hadar recalls: “When I saw Sheldon that night, I decided the trip was worth making. After several weeks of phone conversations, I asked Sheldon where he saw things going. He responded that he wasn’t really looking for a relationship. And I replied: This isn’t a marriage proposal, but you never know. I could be the love of your life.”
About three months later, Sheldon visited Israel with his parents and was warmly welcomed by the Orshalimys. “I think I started to fall in love with Hadar when I met her family,” smiles Sheldon.
After receiving his BS degree at the end of the school year, Sheldon had to decide whether or not to leave Boston. He stayed. Hadar had another year of school, and they decided to take an apartment together.
After her graduation, they moved to New York City and both pursued musical careers. Hadar is a singer/songwriter who regularly leads services as a soloist at temples and synagogues. Sheldon is a nationally recognized Jewish rock composer and serves as Artist in Residence at Temple Israel in New York City. The couple recently created a new indie-folk-pop group called “We are the Northern Lights.”
On their wedding website, Sheldon answers the question: How they got engaged? “If the ten years of ‘dating’ didn’t inform you, we aren’t so into convention. So we didn’t do a formal proposal. In September 2013, Hadar and I decided we need to talk about our future, our careers and our wish lists in life. … Over breakfast, we decided there were two summers we could get married: 2014 or 2015. We decided that 2014 was way too close, and we kept our ‘engagement’ a secret until Thanksgiving, when we told our parents.”
“We are both planners,” says Hadar. “We interviewed the disc jockey for two and half hours before we hired him for our wedding reception.” The ceremony took place at sunset in a park in Jaffa, Israel on July 2, 2015. Sixty-five friends and family members from the United States participated.
Danny and Melissa, who get the credit for bringing Hadar and Sheldon together, recited the first of the seven blessings under the chupa (marriage canopy). 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.