My husband proposed to me on our third date. That’s pretty unusual, even for a Chassidic girl and boy.

When my parents asked me if I wanted to go out withMy husband proposed to me on our third date 21-year-old Gershon, I was 20, working as an eighth-grade Judaic-studies teacher in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. A matchmaker had suggested him for me. My parents did a little investigating and told me all they had heard from teachers, friends and relatives. It sounded all right; there was no reason not to give it a try. It doesn’t sound so romantic, but it turned out to be.

First, there was the phone call. The matchmaker gave him my number so that we could set up a time and place to meet. And so, I waited in my bedroom for my white Princess phone to ring. My father says I fell in love with Gershon from that very first call. Gershon still keeps in his wallet a small piece of paper that has on it my initials and number. That was 34 years ago!

Now what comes next might sound strange, but as Lubavitcher Chassidim, this is how we did it back then ... and how some of us continue to do so with our children.

On Sunday night, my mother drove me a few blocks out of our neighborhood and away from the prying eyes of neighbors. Gershon, looking sharp in his double-breasted navy-blue suit and black fedora, was waiting in a car, and his father was in another car—just to make sure that we all met up all right. When Gershon saw me get out of my parent’s car, he jumped out and ran around to open the car door for me. (He still does that.) We took off on ourown, leaving two sets of parents behind.

Altough he grew up just five blocks away, and his sister is married to my first cousin, I went on this date not knowing what Gershon even looked like. Sitting in the front seat, I glanced at him quickly. He had a small beard and was even taller than my father, who was the tallest person I knew. When dressing for the date, I had decided to go with flats (to be on the safe side) since I am 5 feet, 8 inches tall. My first thought when I saw him—so tall and handsome—was that I should have worn my black heels!

Gershon was the third boy I dated. I went on two dates with the first boy, but it ended easily when my parents told the matchmaker that I was bored, and his parents told her that I was “too much” for him.

With the second boy, things didn’t go as smoothly. After five or six dates he was ready to get engaged, but I wasn’t so sure. My older sister asked me, “If you needed to move with him to South Africa or some other country right now, would you be excited?” Well, my answer was a resounding “no,” which settled it.

My parents would meet every one of my and my sisters’We had the same upbringing and the same goals prospective suitors. Not all parents did that, and I don’t think it’s done at all anymore in our circles. When I asked my father why he and my mother had not met Gershon first, he explained, “I have watched Gershon grow up. From when Gershon was a young boy, he and his brothers came to shul with their father every Friday night and Shabbat day. They sat on the bench right behind me. I saw how well they were brought up. They never ran around or disturbed. I’ve heard how he speaks to others. He is a special boy. Now you just have to see if he’s the right one for you.”

Gershon and I drove into Manhattan and sat across from each other in a small, quiet hotel lobby on 59th Street near Central Park.

He told me lots of stories about his grandparents, my grandparents, and their contemporaries, who had lived in Czarist Russia. He had read my grandfather’s book of stories of Chabad Chassidim from the first half of the 20th century. I thought he had read it when preparing to meet me, and I was touched. I now know that he loves reading books about our ancestors and the lives they lived.

I was stunned when he told me how my grandfather, Yuda, saved the life of his grandfather, Chaim Ber. Apparently, they were both yeshivah boys, in the 1920s, in Rostov, Ukraine, when his grandfather fell ill with typhus. My grandfather tended to his sick friend and allegedly saved him by performing the popular cupping method called bankes.

Telling me stories was especially poignant at that time, since my grandmother Kayla had died just a month earlier and my Zeide Yuda was now living with us. I held back the tears that threatened to spill over.

As the night wore on, I sensed that he was smart, kind, warm-hearted and balanced. We had the same upbringing and the same goals. He had gone to the same school as my brothers. I had gone to the same school as his sisters. My best friend from high school had married his older brother that fall.

We both wanted to move somewhere out of New York to open a Chabad House and to devote ourselves to Jewish outreach.

Sitting in the hotel, I was surprised to find that I was relaxed and enjoying myself. Gershon made me feel at ease. He also understood me. It only took a few words for me to express my thoughts.

I come from a large, close-knit family. We enjoy each other's company, and my three sisters are my closest friends. However, there was always a feeling of competitiveness: who was smarter, funnier, prettier. I always felt that I needed to be at top of my game. When I met Gershon, I felt so comfortable, like I could finally exhale. I just wanted to melt into his chocolate-brown eyes. Everyone in my family has startling blue eyes.

My mother gave me one piece of advice before I started dating—something that I’ve repeated to my children. She said, “My sister Devora calmed me down when I was heading out to meet your father for the first time. She told me that I shouldn’t be worried if he likes me or not. I should concentrate on whether I like him.”

That is the best dating advice ever. No worries about the impression you are making on your date. You are free to be yourself.

My parents were married in 1950, and they were together for more than 60 years. They adored each other.

We sat in the wood-paneled hotel lobby, ornate with chandeliers, and talked for five hours.

I sensed that he knew who I was. We could have talked all night, but he was warned not to overdo it on the first date.

The next day, Monday, the matchmaker called us both to find out whether we wanted to continue dating. It felt so right, and I knew he’d felt it, too. We made up to go out again on Wednesday, same meeting place.

This time my sister drove me, and his father wasn’t there to see us off. Back into the city, different hotel lobby, five more hours of talking. I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep all night! The next day we agreed to meet on Saturday night for our third date.

When I left the house to go meet him, I told my sister that I hoped Gershon would propose that night. I had known him less than a week. She told me that there was no way that was going to happen—that he wasn’t going to risk asking too early. I knew we were both sure about how we felt, and he was definitely going to ask me to marry him.

And he did. Thirty-four years later, still raising ourMy heart still leaps when I see him children and also enjoying grandchildren, my heart still leaps when I see him. Yes, it was love at first sight, and it is still so romantic.

Four of my children are married. We have used the same dating process, and it works for us. My husband and I listen to suggestions, and make lots of inquiries as to whether the suggested boys and girls are good matches for our children. As with me, it doesn’t always work out the first time.

We wait up late at night to listen to our kids talk about their dates. We try to discern if there is a spark, an excitement. We encourage them not only to know if it’s right, but to also feel it in their hearts. If they tell us too much and it sounds like they are trying to convince themselves, then we know it’s probably not right. One of my daughters described catching a glimpse of herself and her date in a storefront window and not liking the way they looked as a couple. Those little details tell us a lot.

Actually, when they don’t say much and they are having a hard time expressing their feelings, then we know that this may be the one for them.

They are married now, with children of their own, and I watch the new young couples and I wonder. Are they, too, married to the love of their lives? I want my children to have what I have, a great love.