A modern day Purim miracle

One year ago today, I was walking through Jerusalem on Purim day filled with anxiety. COVID was just heating up, though you would never know it from the crowds on the street. Costumes and parties filled the air…but I was filled with uncertainty and fear.

My family begged me to return home to Florida, but I didn’t want to go. I loved being in Israel more than anything — I finally found my place. But the future with COVID was so unknown…I ultimately booked one of the last El Al flights home.

Little did I know that as I was touching down in Jacksonville, my soon-to-be husband was also landing in Florida. Aryeh had been in New York for the past year while I was living in the Holy Land. He spent Purim in quarantine before deciding to fly home to Tampa. Aryeh thought COVID meant the end to his dating life…little did he know he would soon meet his wife!

Shortly after all of the millennials returned to their parents’ homes, we started doing what we do best: connecting via technology. We decided COVID wasn’t the end to our dating lives but a new opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Facebook dating groups popped up left and right, CoronaCrush, Meet Jew…all out of the blue!

On April 23, 2020, my friend Sarit posted about me on Meet Jew Post-Grad. A few hours later, Aryeh saw the post — a miracle in itself because he’s rarely on social media. He sent me a message, and we chatted for a bit before Aryeh asked to call (a true gentleman). We kept talking and getting to know each other over the next month. In May, Aryeh asked if he could drive to Jacksonville to see me…and the rest is history!

On November 15, 2020, Aryeh and I got married in my grandparents’ backyard. It was a small, beautiful affair filled with people we love (wearing masks). We are so grateful to our families for pulling off this miraculous COVID wedding, and we are so grateful to Hashem for making it all possible. I never could’ve imagined getting married so fast…but we knew right away this relationship would last!

Last Purim, Aryeh and I were filled with uncertainty sitting in our Jerusalem and New York apartments. This Purim, we are filled with love and gratitude together in our Florida home. We had no idea what Hashem had in mind sending us ‘out of town’…but after years of dating in Jewish hubs, our soulmates were found!

We now know that Hashem was guiding the strings, working hard from behind the scenes. To bring two Floridians together from the ends of the earth, reunited in the place of their birth. It all started on Purim last year, while we were filled with anxiety and fear. We learned that Hashem is always running the show, and sometimes we have to just let go.

Aryeh and I are praying to return home to our Jewish state — and that everyone searching should find their soulmate!

About the Author
Manya Goldstein is a health writer and educator living in Jacksonville, FL. She graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in journalism in 2019 and is currently pursuing her MS in Health Education and Behavior at the University of Florida. Manya and her husband Aryeh are looking forward to making aliyah in the future!
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