My father always used to say, “You know, I am a great believer in coincidence.” What he really meant was, “There are no coincidences; they’re all signs from G‑d.” In this context, my marriage is either one giant coincidence or – as I prefer to believe – an eternal gift.

It all started six years ago. I had signed up for J-date, the on-line Jewish dating service, and I was getting frustrated with the whole experience. From the music industry braggart with the purple Jaguar (“my other car’s a purple Mercedes”) to the seventy-five year old who’d claimed to be fifty (“all the women I meet lie about their ages, why can’t I?”) the prospects were disappointing.

I made a renewed commitment to keep an open mind. I wouldn’t cancel my J-date subscription. I’d give people a second chance

I told my friends I’d had enough, that I’d much rather stay home with my daughter. Besides, it wasn’t as if I were lonely. There were always people around for Shabbat dinners and holiday celebrations, and I was very involved with synagogue activities and my Havurah.

Then one night I went to a Bat Mitzvah and sat alone as couples danced together. I suddenly realized that while I had lots of friends, I wanted a husband, if not to dance with, to go home with me and share my life. I suspected, too, that my daughter, who’d lost her father at twelve, needed a man who could be firm in ways I’d never be, especially as she struggled through adolescence.

I made a renewed commitment to keep an open mind. I wouldn’t cancel my J-date subscription. I’d give people a second chance.

It was days later that I got Isaac’s email. He’d seen my J-date profile in which I said something tender about wanting to hold hands with my true love when we were eighty. Isaac liked that, and asked me to correspond. I checked out his profile. I had to meet this guy; he was a Jew with a Harley!!!

I wrote to him. We exchanged some more emails, and then moved on to Instant Messaging. From our profiles, he already knew I had one child. I knew he had three. I will never forget our first – and last — typed conversation:

ISAAC: You have a daughter, right?

ME: Right.

ISAAC: Me, too. How old is yours?

ME: Fourteen.

ISAAC: Mine, too. When’s her birthday?

ME: January 10th.

ISAAC: Mine, too!

ME: Are you kidding?

ISAAC: No! Where was she born?

ME: Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

ISAAC: Mine, too! Small world, huh?

I was shaking like a leaf. I immediately turned off my computer. Either this guy was a stalker and a liar, who was trying to make me believe we had a bizarre and meaningful connection, or we really did have a bizarre and meaningful connection. I wasn’t sure which was freakier. Imagine, our daughters were born in the same hospital on the very same day.

The phone rang. It was him. I’d forgotten I’d given him my number. Usually people spend more time on-line before actually conversing. There didn’t seem to be any reason, though, to beat around the bush. “Did you make this all up?” I asked.

“No,” he said, actually managing to sound like he was telling the truth. “It must be some kind of sign. Let’s meet.” I agreed, figuring he couldn’t possibly have made up something this weird. I suggested my usual first date: coffee. “I’ll take you out for coffee after dinner,” he said. It was so charming that I dropped my guard and agreed to spend what was bound to be two full hours in a restaurant with a man I’d never met. What if we had nothing to say to each other? What if I didn’t like him? But then I remembered my promise to myself, and the undeniable temptation to find out more about someone whose daughter shared a birthday with mine. But then Isaac suggested Saturday night. That sounded so…significant. I mean, didn’t the rules of dating say that first dates were on Wednesdays and then you sat by the phone waiting for him to ask you out again for that all-important Saturday night? I guess Isaac hadn’t learned the rules. And it wasn’t like my dance card was full. Again, I found myself agreeing to go along.

I arrived at the restaurant early. Early enough to give me time to drive around the block three times. Even then, I was still fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. Once more, though, coincidence was on my side. Standing outside the restaurant waiting for a table, were two of my oldest friends, a couple I’d met when I first moved to Los Angeles twenty years before. The husband was a comedian, who instantly made me laugh, and all my anxiety melted away. By the time Isaac showed up I was ready to have a good time.

And then I saw him. He was crossing the street. A smile was on his face. It never left. My friend’s easy humor helped us to break the ice, and then his wife dragged him away and we were left alone. From the moment we met, we were never at a loss for conversation. In the course of that first evening, we stumbled on some more similarities, but nothing particularly shocking for Jews, even in California. Isaac had grown up on the East Coast, I was from New York; he’d studied screenwriting in college, I was a television writer. Okay, so we had a lot in common, but nothing compared to the shocker of our daughter’s birthday. Until, late in the evening, Isaac admitted his lifelong dream:

“I want to be a chocolate maker,” he said.

“What?” I nearly choked on my wine.

“Yeah,” he continued. “I make really good truffles. I want to go into business.”

My father was a chocolate manufacturer, I told him. He and his brothers had founded a world-famous kosher chocolate company, Barton’s Candy. The family no longer owned the business, but my secret fantasy had always been to resurrect the company. I’d never told this to anyone but my daughter and my brother. This strange, smiling, nice man couldn’t have known about my dream. I barely knew it myself!!!

We ended up closing the restaurant that night. The phone in the car rang as I drove home. It was Isaac, calling to say, “I’ve never made a call like this before, but I had to tell you what a wonderful time I had with you.” I agreed – it was an amazing time. But the coincidences were just beginning.

After dating for a month, I invited Isaac to come to New York with me for my great aunt’s ninetieth birthday party. He met my mother and her extended family. They all liked him. And that afternoon, I met his best friends. Their approval must have sealed the deal, because that night, five weeks after we met, on the street corner where I grew up, Isaac asked me to marry him. I said yes. We congratulated each other on our ability to take it slow. We’d actually waited five weeks, when in truth, we’d both known we were perfect for each other the night we met.

The next day, we went to meet some cousins on my father’s side of the family. My cousin Charlie asked Isaac where his family was from. “Poland,” Isaac answered.

“I meant in America,” Charlie said, laughing.

“Oh,” replied Isaac, “Brooklyn.” I didn’t know this about him. Somehow, we’d never discussed it.

“Where in Brooklyn?” Charlie asked. Our family was from Brooklyn, too.

“Crown Heights,” Isaac replied.

Charlie shot me a look before answering Isaac, “Our family is from Crown Heights. What did your family do?”

Isaac said, proudly, “We owned a bakery.” Again, I didn’t know this about him.

“Which one?” Charlie asked.


I had to meet this guy; he was a Jew with a Harley!!!

Charlie grinned. “I went there every day after school. My mother bought all her cakes there.” Charlie’s brother David chimed in, as did their wives. “Everybody went to Lowen's. It was the best!”

Isaac beamed. I smiled. This was clearly beshert, meant to be. But I wasn’t prepared for what came next. Charlie turned to Isaac, “Are you related to Moshe Koffman?”

“He’s my first cousin,” Isaac replied.

Charlie looked at me and said, “Moshe Koffman is married to Zoltan Fischoff’s only daughter!”

The Fischoffs were cousins of Charlie’s mother, and Zoltan was the brother of our Aunt Rufka. To me, though, the name was even more significant. I turned to Isaac.

“Zoltan Fischoff was one of my father’s best friends. He was a rubber stamp manufacturer in Vienna. In 1939, he made the phony passport that got my father out of Europe and saved his life.”

It turns out everyone in Isaac’s family knows everyone in my family. His aunt told me that the day my father arrived in America, his brothers took him straight from New York harbor to Lowen’s bakery. Not only did my Tanta Rufka shop there, it turns out she lived around the corner and went there three times a day because she liked the rolls fresh from the oven. We even learned that Isaac’s uncle Yossel lived next door to my uncle Isaac, and his first cousin dated another of my cousins. Small world. Small Jewish world.

Like my father, I am a great believer in coincidences. I know first hand how miraculous they can be. Every day, as I thank G‑d for all my blessings, I stop and think: If it hadn’t been for Zoltan Fischoff, my father could have died at the hands of the Nazis, I would never have been born, and I would never have met my husband.

Recently, I’ve heard Jews joke when they are introduced, “Oh, we’ve met before, at Sinai.” It’s a reminder of our ancestral links, our spiritual connections. My husband Isaac and I could certainly have met thousands of years ago, in the desert. We could have met again, a century ago, in a Polish shtetl. Or forty years ago, at a bakery in Brooklyn. Or twenty years ago, in the corridor outside the delivery room of a Los Angeles hospital. Instead, we met in cyberspace, linked by a cosmic matchmaker who must laugh at how long it took these two grateful Jews to find each other.