When Ori Met Leah

Leah Pressman & Ori Lieberman

First Date: A movie in seventh grade

Wedding Date: March 26, 2017

Venue: Royal Sonesta Harbor Court, Baltimore

Residence: Manhattan

Favorite Activity: Spending time with each other

Not many couples can say their love story began in middle school, but Leah Pressman and Ori Lieberman can.

Leah’s family moved to Owings Mills the summer before her sixth-grade year. Her school, Krieger Schechter Day School, eased the transition to middle school and welcomed the Pressman family to Baltimore by assigning them a “buddy” family. The mothers “took us to the state fair,” Leah remembered. There, Leah met Ori, another future classmate.

The two were “pretty disinterested in each other at the time. We were more interested in eating fried foods and going on rides,” said Ori. Nevertheless, the spark was lit. In seventh grade, the couple dated briefly. “We went to a couple movies in seventh grade. I was ready to settle down, but Leah broke my heart,” Ori laughingly remembered. Leah vehemently denies this, but Ori continues to tease her, saying: “My dad still reminds her of it!”

Having grown up in close proximity, the two even ended up at the same college, the University of Maryland, College Park. But the longtime classmates didn’t rekindle their middle school romance until the spring of their sophomore year. The two were newly single and felt pressured to go to a Jewish Student Union dance with their friends. One day they ran into each other on campus and decided to go together, with a couple of their other friends.

That night, a romance blossomed. “We were pretty much inseparable after that” said Leah, but even though the two spent all their time together, Ori says he was reticent about labeling the relationship. Ori took a roadtrip to Seattle with a friend that spring and found himself compelled to call Leah frequently from the road, still denying the relationship to his friend. His friend, Tyler, wasn’t buying Ori’s denial. “He said: ‘You know you guys are dating, right?’” Ori realized they were, actually, falling in love.

The two moved to New York for graduate school after graduating from college in 2013. Leah studied to become a social worker and Ori is an M.D./Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, studying neurobiology and behavior.

Ori picked up the engagement ring after a visit home to Baltimore over the new year holiday in 2015. “We’d just come back from Baltimore where I picked up the ring,” Ori said. Ori planned to propose that spring. “I had grand plans to wait until Maryland Day [at the University of Maryland}. We’d go back and see the old stomping grounds, and I’d do it then.”

By this time, Ori’s family and hers had become close friends. “Our parents [Elli and Laura Lieberman and Mark and Fran Pressman] do everything together,” Leah said. “Holidays together, dinner on Saturday nights.”

Despite his plans, Ori lasted only a week with the ring before he popped the question in their apartment.

The two married at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court in downtown Baltimore with Rabbi Debra Wechsler presiding over the ceremony. The chuppah was decorated with white and ivory flowers and included prayer shawls from both the bride’s and groom’s family. Leah wore a vintage gown designed by Enzoani. An eight-day honeymoon to Paris followed in June.

Leah loves “so many things” about Ori. “He’s a go-getter … he has the ability to achieve what he wants, and he works hard to get it. He loves his family a lot.” Ori said: “Leah understands me. I can be myself with her.” Ori also says he’s impressed with how Leah loves spending time with his family.

Leah agrees and told him: “I feel like I’ve been a part of your family for a long time.”

Erica Rimlinger is an area freelance writer.

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