She didn''t think he was telling the truth (he was).
Their paths crossed right before Rosh Hashanah, 2009. Marvin Casey, a native of St. Louis, went with friends to a bar in Jerusalem. Oshrat, who is orthodox, would generally go to the Holy City only for religious reasons. But that night, her kid brother insisted they do the 60 km-drive to party. “And I wasn’t sorry,” says 26-year old Oshrat. “Everything happens for a reason,” she believes. Marvin, 29, agrees.
She persisted and did get his Facebook address. “But I was preoccupied with someone else,” says Marvin. “And then I got blown off. It was the eve of Yom Kippur and I was depressed.”
Just then she sent him a text. Marvin wasn’t sure if Oshrat was inviting him on a date, or just to hang out together. After an evening of chat, Marvin made his intentions clear. He was inviting her out, to the Herzliya beach.
Marvin liked Israeli women. “The Anglo community in Jerusalem was always asking me questions about my Jewishness,” says Marvin. Perhaps because he’s black. He continues: “They would ask - how I’m Jewish or if I was adopted. Israelis take me as I am. They do ask the questions, but it''s much further down the line, after they have gotten to know me. For the record, I was not adopted. I have two wonderful parents living in St. Louis, who have no links to Judaism. Yet I felt a connection since I was about 20, and I converted in 2003. I was given the name Yisrael Moshe Chayim.”
He visited Israel with a Birthright program in 2004, and knew he wanted to make aliyah. It took him three years. “Jerusalem is home,” says Marvin.
How did love happen? Oshrat responds: “I always loved different people and different cultures, so it was natural for me to be interested in Marvin. And once I really knew him, I knew this was it.”
Oshrat’s sister met Marvin and was impressed and suggested they go the next step – meet the parents. Oshrat wanted it to be informal, and one evening they happened to be in the neighborhood. Marvin was nervous even though he''s a performer by profession. He choreographed a flash mob that became a major success and is head choreographer of a hip-hop troupe to be launched by the Jewish Agency.
“But I’m always nervous before I go up on the stage,” says Marvin. “And now I was going to meet Oshrat’s parents, who were sure to grill me.”
Her parents invited him for the next Shabbat. “My mom loves Marvin,” says Oshrat. “She always cooks the foods that Marvin likes.”
He went through the hoops again during a Chanukah family brit. “Everyone kept telling me how polite he was,” says Oshrat, who was trained as a teacher.
Marvin proposed at Pesach. “I first asked her in English, and then in Hebrew. But since my Hebrew wasn’t perfect, I made a mistake in grammar, and she made me ask a third time.” Once a teacher, always a teacher.Oshrat and Marvin were married in Jerusalem on October 31, 2010. Mazal tov!