BENJAMIN FRIELING, 27, LAWRENCE, NEW YORK, TO HAIFA, 2014 DENA KATZ FRIELING, 29, NEWTON, MASSACHUSETTS, TO JERUSALEM, 2015.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Benjie Frieling arrived in Israel on the cusp of a rocket barrage from Gaza, just in time to live through the difficult summer of Operation Protective Edge in 2014. He recalls vividly his first night in Israel, which “alternated between making pancakes in a Givat Shmuel apartment and, on hearing the siren, shutting off the stove top and running to the safe room.” After five months of Ulpan Gordon in Tel Aviv, Benjie began a year’s army service as a civil engineer based at Tel HaShomer. Dena Katz, an occupational therapist and native of Newton, Massachusetts, arrived at Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem the following summer and met Benjie three months later.The fall of their meeting, Benjie was due to spend a month’s leave back home in Lawrence, New York. Despite this brief separation, the two kept in touch, got engaged in the spring and married in summer 2016. Actually, the mutual friend who set them up had invited both to her wedding some years back, but although they both attended, they never met. Nor did they appear together in any photos. Now, however, friendship and romance have blossomed.