“I didn’t know anyone invited to my friend’s wedding, and wondered where they’d seat me,” recalls Linda Hakim. She approached the table and noticed a guy who looked Indian. She was wrong. They were four Persian Jews seated together – Linda, a friend of the bride; Itamar, a friend of the groom; and two others.
Linda had met the bride two years earlier as a sophomore at Queens College. She needed one course to fulfill a requirement but the class she wanted was all signed up. A friend suggested an alternative. “By being in a class I wasn’t supposed to be in, I met Zoe,” says Linda. They became good friends and travelled to Italy together that summer.
“When Zoe got engaged, my parents encouraged me to ask her if she knew anyone to fix me up with,” says Linda. “He didn’t have to be a Mashadi. He just had to be Jewish.”
Linda’s parents are more flexible on this issue than is customary among the Mashadi Jews who live in or around Great Neck, New York, but who trace their roots back to the city of Mashad, Iran.
Itamar Hakakian is a Persian Jew whose roots are in the city of Esfahan, Iran. His family lives in Potomac, Maryland.
“When I first saw Linda at the wedding, I thought she was so so pretty,” says Itamar. When the separate dancing for men and women ended and the mixed dancing began, Itamar asked her to dance. Soon he asked Linda for her telephone number. She hesitated, thinking he wouldn’t call – they lived more than 200 miles apart. But she gave him her number.
As they were leaving the wedding, Itamar asked: “Can you give me and my friends a ride to the city?” Linda considered the situation. She had a car and they didn’t. Manhattan was really on the way from Brooklyn (where the wedding was) to Manhasset (where she lived). What about propriety?
Not knowing what to do, Linda called her father and asked his opinion. To Mashadi families, propriety is ultra-important. They want the right and appropriate action. Her father gave her a green light. “To the credit of my parents, they trusted me,” says Linda, who was 22 at the time.
Itamar left the city the next day as he was enrolled at the University of Maryland. But he always found time to call Linda.
After the phone calls, the visits began. “We both like to have fun, and on our first date together in New York, we went to Toys"R"Us, says Linda.
“And we both like being with family,” says Itamar, who is a year older than Linda. “On our first Saturday night together, I asked Linda to join me at the birthday party of my cousin.” Again there was a question of propriety. Linda brought along her younger sister.
After Itamar came up to New York for a second weekend, he wanted Linda to visit him in Potomac. “My mom freaked out,” says Linda.
But her dad came up with an idea – he would drive Linda and her sister to Potomac and they would do some sightseeing. There was one absolute no-no. Linda would not sleep over at Itamar’s house. She would stay with a neighbor.
“My mom was iffy about the situation until she met Itamar at the end of the summer,” says Linda. With her blessings, the young couple began to talk about the future. Linda made it clear that she would not move to Potomac. Itamar agreed to move to New York. Linda’s family doesn’t eat legumes on Passover. Itamar could do without beans.
Itamar proposed in December, 2011, at the M&M store in Manhattan. He arranged the candies to ask: “Will you marry me?
In planning the seating arrangements for their wedding, Linda and Itamar tried their hand at making matches. Did anything work out? Not yet.
Linda and Itamar were married on August 21, 2011. Mazal tov!