Love is in the air

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, the ‘Magazine’ presents three couples struck by Cupid’s arrow.

ADAR & LISA (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
February is here and with it, Valentine’s Day on the 14th – and who better to usher it in then Leah Hakimian, who firmly believes “love is everywhere” and fills her heartfelt blog “Godsend” with the true tales of how people met and married. Here are three newlywed couples’ stories. Mazal tov!
A trail – and a grail
Adar met Lisa on the Israel National Trail, Shvil Yisrael. National Geographic calls it “one of the world’s best trails... a place of peace and friendship... a holy grail,” something that is very hard to achieve. The trail is 680 miles (1,100 km.) long and traverses the State of Israel from North to South.
Adar Lando, from Beersheba, was not a hiking enthusiast. “My brother didn’t think I’d last a day on the trail,” smiles Adar. “But at the age of 28, after army service and a stint at working on an organic farm, I decided to take up the challenge of the INT.” 
Lisa Toledano, from Ra’anana, then 21 and after her army service, wasn’t a serious hiker either. She adds: “But I love nature. You’re at your worst and best on the trail. On the one hand, you don’t shower much and can look pretty disgusting. On the other hand you are free and open. It’s a great way to meet people.” According to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), “Tens of thousands of people hike the Israel Trail every year.”
Both Lisa and Adar started the trail in March 2016 in the southern city of Eilat. Adar was with his walking partner and Lisa was walking with her friend, Noa. They started a week apart and reached the same point after about six weeks. “You take breaks along the way,” explains Adar, “and you resume at the point where you left off.”
When Lisa and Noa reached Mount Tabor, Noa went to stay with friends at Lake Kinneret for Shabbat. As destiny would have it, Adar was at the Kinneret at the same time and a mutual friend introduced Adar to Noa. Noa then invited Adar to join her and Lisa on the hiking trail.
On Sunday morning, May 8, 2016, Adar met Lisa. “It’s not that we became best friends at first,” recalls Adar. “I actually thought she seemed a bit snobby. But as the three of us continued to walk – me, Noa and Lisa – I got closer to Lisa. She was very interesting and a lot of fun.” 
Less than two weeks later, Noa left the twosome for three days. Lisa and Adar were on their own at Ramat Naftali, a moshav near the Lebanese border. Like all hikers, Lisa and Adar are appreciative of the “trail angels,” people who live close to the INT and open their homes to the hikers free of charge.
“That was the weekend when we clicked,” smiles Lisa. “There were just three days before the end of the trip, and neither of us wanted to finish the trail. We walked more slowly.”
In a “shipboard romance,” a relationship ends when the trip ends and the couple goes back to “real life.” Adar notes: “In our ‘real lives,’ both Lisa and I were in transition, were open to exploring new possibilities, and had the time for a commuter relationship. Eventually, Lisa started Hebrew University to study psychology and business administration, and I followed her to Jerusalem.” Currently, Adar is a student in the School of Social Work at Hebrew University.
In March 2018, they went on a “proposal trip,” where they proposed to each other. When Lisa was asked if she would have agreed to be fixed up with Adar before the INT, she responded: “I probably would have said he’s too old for me. But on the trail, I didn’t notice age and didn’t think to ask until there was already an attraction.”
Lisa and Adar were wed on August 29 in Abu Ghosh. 
It all started with IKEA
Shayna Driscoll needed help assembling her new IKEA furniture. She also wanted some getting-to-know-you time with David Muller. Shayna took the initiative and they made a deal. He would build her nightstand and she would cook him dinner. It worked so well that he came twice more to build two other pieces of furniture. Finally, David said: “As much as I like being your handyman, I also want to ask you out on a date.” 
In February 2017, Shayna and David went out for beer and pizza. That night, Shayna texted her friend: “This is the guy I’m going to marry.” Shayna and David were both 26 years old and living in Jerusalem.
David, a Cleveland native, graduated from Yeshiva University. Then he moved to Israel and in 2016 received a master’s degree in organizational behavior and development from the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. He is currently a digital marketing associate for Kahena Digital Marketing.
Shayna, a Brooklyn native, received her bachelor’s degree in political science and government from the State University of New York at Binghamton. She started college as a secular Jew with no ties to Israel. When she graduated, she was Torah observant and determined to make aliyah. Shayna credits Chabad and Birthright for this transformation. She immigrated to Israel in July 2016 and is currently the director of resource development and communication for New Spirit Jerusalem.
Shayna met David about a month after making aliyah. Her roommate, Yael, invited her to join some friends at a Latino Festival. “When I saw David, I thought he was really cute,” reflects Shayna. But Yael told her that he was unavailable.
Shayna lived outside the Jerusalem neighborhood called “the swamp,” known for its high concentration of Orthodox singles. But she would visit a friend for Shabbat meals even though it was about an hour’s walk. Her mom used to say: “If you’re not in it, you’re not gonna win it.”
In December, David and Shayna met again at a Shabbat meal hosted by a visitor from Cleveland. This time David was available. 
David and Shayna come from different backgrounds. He is FFB (frum – religious from birth) and she is a BT (baalat teshuva – returnee to Judaism). In other words, David was born and raised an Orthodox Jew; Shayna became Orthodox on her own. For David, this was a non-issue. He explains: “I like the fact that Shayna is passionate about her Judaism. That’s what’s most important.”
Height too was a non-issue for David, who is 6’4” (193 centimeters). He notes: “Frequently people would tell me that I have an obligation to marry a tall woman. I never really cared. Shayna is 5’2” (158 centimeters). So what? I have enough height for both of us.”
In February 2018, David and Shayna went to Mitzpe Ramon to celebrate the anniversary of their first date. While sitting under the stars in the middle of the desert, David proposed. Shayna smiles. “I was so excited when he got down on one knee, I asked him to do it a second time.”
Two days later, the couple attended services at the Chabad synagogue in Mitzpe Ramon. To their surprise, the Chabad rebbitzen there was the sister-in-law of the Chabad rebbitzen in Binghamton, New York, where Shayna first started her religious journey.
Shayna and David were married on August 26 in Rishon Lezion.
Love at first tweet?
Melanie Baevsky and Adam Besvinick recount the story of how they met. It was October 2014. Adam was 27 and Melanie, 25.
“Melanie and her account coordinator, John Brennan, were tweeting back and forth when @Besvinick joined the conversation. Melanie immediately asked John: ‘Who is this? How do you know him? Is he single? Jewish? Tall?’
John replied in the same order: ‘Adam is the best! He mentored me when I was in college. Definitely single and Jewish. But let me find out if he’s tall enough for you.’
@brennanjp: How tall are you?
@Besvinick: 6’1”… Why?
@brennanjp: I’m setting you up on a blind date with @mel
@Besvinick: I’ve never been set up before
@brennanjp: You guys would get along SO well
@Besvinick: Give me her number I guess
One week later, Melanie and Adam went on their first date. They talked for hours about their jobs, families, travels, favorite restaurants, love of tennis and aversion to cheese. They talked for so long, they shut down the bar! Adam kissed Melanie goodnight, texted her on his cab ride home, and knew that she was the one for him.”
Adam, or as his friends affectionately call him, “Bez,” comments: “In truth, because of the Internet there is no such thing as a blind date anymore. We check out each other’s looks, friends, interests and bios.” 
Melanie grew up in Harrison, New York, and graduated from Cornell University, where she studied communications. She is currently a director of NBCUniversal’s digital partnership team in New York. 
Adam grew up in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, graduated cum laude from Duke University and received an MBA from Harvard. He is currently an investor at the Anchorage Capital Group, a hedge fund in New York. Rabbi Eytan Hammerman, who officiated at their wedding, remarked: “The time you have spent together is the best investment you’ve ever made. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Adam, who made the Forbes “30 under 30” list in venture capital in 2016, explains the value of pure hustle in his profession. On a personal level, he feels the same way: “When you have a conviction, pursue it. Don’t be coy, don’t play games, don’t play hard to get. Don’t be rash, but be decisive.” On his first date with Melanie, he saw in her all the qualities he was looking for in a wife. They moved in together in June 2016.  
What makes them a good match? Melanie smiles: “Both personally and professionally, we share the same values, care about the same things and have similar goals. We come from fairly similar backgrounds – both from suburbs of big cities.”
Melanie recommends bringing one’s family into the picture early in the relationship. When Adam called to preempt their third date, Melanie was visiting her parents in Westchester.  Her mom encouraged her to accept.  Within a month he had already met her family.
In July 2017, Adam proposed to Melanie at home, in a simple, private and very straightforward manner. That’s his style. He had previously received permission and blessings from Melanie’s parents.
As a college student, Melanie worked in the editorial department at, which inspired her own wedding plans. “I wanted lots of color and lots of fresh flowers.”
On October 20, 2018, the couple stood under the huppah, wrapped in the tallit of Melanie’s father. In referring to their “how they met” story, Rabbi Hammerman asked: “Was all of this destiny? Was it bashert? Maybe just some mazal tov – some really good luck.”
Melanie and Adam were married on October 20 at the Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase, New York.