The trip is about kesher (connection) – people meeting people. But it came as a surprise when Wendy Rosenblum and Jeremy Lieb discovered each other – romantically. They knew each other before the trip. They were colleagues in the St. Louis Jewish Federation. Wendy was assistant director of development, and Jeremy was a development associate.
“I got lucky when they asked me to lead this trip,” says Wendy, a local St. Louisan. “Another person had the assignment but she had to cancel. Though I had just 10 days to prepare, I was thrilled to step in. I had been to Israel eight times before, but I really wanted to lead the Rubin Israel Experience.”
Jeremy, originally from Chicago, says he felt “honored” that he was selected for the trip. Each year 10 young adults are chosen from the St. Louis community to make a first-time trip to Israel. Pam Rubin, a co-funder of the program, notes an important criterion: leadership potential.
This was the 2010 trip: There were six guys of which five were romantically committed or married. Jeremy was available. “It’s a good thing I wasn’t on the committee to select the participants,” says Wendy. “No one can claim it was rigged.”
When Jeremy applied to join in, he was thinking about destination: “I always dreamed about a visit to the Holy Land, to see where we come from, and what all the history is all about.” He never dreamed it would be a life-changing opportunity.
It''s not by chance that the trip is called the Israel Experience. Wendy says it was amazing. “Israel is a magical place. There were sparks.” They were drawn to the country and to each other.
They started dating around Thanksgiving, six weeks after the trip. During the interim, Wendy weighed the situation. On the one hand, she loved how Jeremy was such a generous person; he was good and altruistic, witty and funny. On the other hand, she was skeptical of their age difference. She was eight and half years older than Jeremy. She had her idea of what would work. “But Jeremy was special,” Wendy concluded.
Jeremy had some professional decisions to make. He loved his music and teaching the guitar. He enjoyed seeing Wendy every day at the Federation office. Still, he couldn''t get away from the feeling it was time to move on... professionally and to move forward romantically.
They were both ready to move forward, and on Wendy’s 40th birthday, their relationship went public. What others sensed, they could confirm – they were now a couple. His dog and her dog became their dogs.
Her family knew about Jeremy’s marital intentions three weeks before she did. In the winter of 2012, Jeremy went to their home to videotape the proposal, which included family blessings. When asked about Wendy, Jeremy quotes the Ray LaMontagne lyrics: “You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Wendy and Jeremy feel they owe a big debt of thanks to Pam and Ron Rubin, the visionaries and philanthropists who established the Rubin Israel Experience. Wendy says: “They are our cupids.”
The Rubins, now promoting their 2013 trip, are proud to share the news that their program also takes credit for a second marriage. It’s all about kesher. And good luck.
Wendy and Jeremy were married on October 14, 2012. Mazal tov!