“Meet your spouse at Hillel House” – was the chant of student leaders at the St. Louis Hillel, according to the late Rabbi James Diamond, the respected executive director of Hillel at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) from 1972 until 1995. Rabbi Diamond wrote: “I always regarded matchmaking among the items on Hillel’s hidden agenda. What better way to promote the Jewish future? Marriages are made in heaven, but Hillel helps.”
David and Ronit agree. They met at the Hillel Institute at WUSTL in July 2011. But they were not students. Ronit Sherwin, then 38, was the newly appointed executive director of the Kristol Center for Jewish Life at the University of Delaware Hillel; and Rabbi David Komerofsky was the 39 year-old executive director of the Texas Hillel at UT-Austin.
Ronit was also a single mom. Three years earlier, she made a decision: “I still wanted to wait for the right man to marry, but I didn’t want to wait to become a mom.” When she and David met, she had 20-month old twins, and David was a divorced dad with eleven year-old twins.
David and Ronit are both Ohio natives, though they had never met before. David was born in Akron and graduated from the University of Cincinnati. Ronit was born in Cleveland and holds a degree from Ohio State University. They have theological degrees as well - David was ordained a rabbi at Hebrew Union College and Ronit has a Masters degree in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.
Before starting her job in Delaware, Ronit lived in St. Louis where she founded Nishmah: The St. Louis Jewish Women’s Project. However, she was a novice in Hillel work and David was the Hillel pro. “He was my mentor that first year,” says Ronit, “even though we were living about 1400 miles apart.”
Though there were many emails and text messages, they didn’t meet again until the following summer – once again at the Hillel Institute at WUSTL. “I was so comfortable with David,” enthuses Ronit. “He’s very smart and so funny. And he really understands me.”
Before Yom Kippur, 2012, Ronit, a proactive person, called David and said: “I have a confession to make – I have strong feelings for you. I really like you.” David was more cautious. Though he thought Ronit was “the nicest person he’d ever met, he didn’t want to complicate their lives.”
Their conversations continued and were becoming increasingly personal. Her friend and former colleague from St. Louis, Karen Sher, recalls: “I could tell from her voice that Ronit was falling in love. David just makes her smile all the time.”
Meanwhile back in Austin, David was still having reservations. A friend encouraged him to move forward, saying: “Are you nuts? She sounds perfect.”
In December 2012, David came to Delaware to visit Ronit and her twins. “I fell in love with all three Sherwins on that trip. I realized that the right relationship is far from a complication – it’s the best thing in the world.” Seven months later, he proposed.
It was time to work out the logistics. David wanted to remain in Texas to be close to his kids. Ronit decided to move from Delaware at the end of the 2013-14 school year. Things came together when she accepted an offer from the Jewish Federation of San Antonio to become their executive director.
Photo credit:Kevin Dern
When he announced their engagement on his Facebook page, David quoted the Hillel vision about “making an enduring commitment to Jewish life.” David explained: “I think we embody what Hillel is trying to achieve.”
Ronit and David were married in Cleveland on June 8, 2014. Mazal tov.