‘Don’t Take This the Wrong Way’

beshert-carr-recentSharon & Eric Carr

First Date: July 20, 1992, dinner and a movie

Wedding Date: June 9, 1996

Ceremony: Beth El Congregation

Reception: Martin’s Westminster

Residence: Owings Mills

Favorite Activity: Relaxing at home

Sharon Askin and Eric Carr quickly learned the word “indifference” while senior prom dates at Randallstown High School in 1987.

They met in study hall, realizing both were part of the school’s production of “Romeo and Juliet.” Eric developed “feelings” for Sharon, but they went as friends. After an awkward evening, Sharon’s mom picked her up from the after-party.

During their junior year at the University of Maryland, College Park, they re-established their friendship and hung out with mutual friends. Eric confessed that he wanted to date, but Sharon refused.

About a year later, they attended a wedding as friends, and old feelings re-emerged. But an argument ensued. Sharon remembers it feeling like a breakup.

With “I Can’t Make You Love Me” playing in his head, Eric penned a letter telling Sharon to be honest with herself.

beshert-carr-wedding“She knew how I felt, and I was questioning how she felt,” said Eric, 47, an internist with GBMC Physicians. “If she didn’t have feelings for me, I wouldn’t bother her again.”

After a weekend away that included staving off another guy’s pursuits, Sharon thought about Eric’s letter. What if he was right?

It was around the time Eric’s brother’s girlfriend was shot while working at a hot dog stand. Torn up, Eric had called Sharon. When she returned his call, they agreed to catch a bite and a movie.

Eric was admittedly “on eggshells” while Sharon tried to get him to make a move.

“If I do something, do you promise you won’t take it the wrong way?” she asked.

“Yeah, sure, whatever,” he responded.

She dropped it, and he kissed her forehead to leave. Then, she kissed him.

“I wasn’t his girlfriend, it wasn’t a grand love affair, it was not a big deal,” said Sharon, 46, a real estate sales agent with Rollins & Associates. “I just wanted to see where it would go.”

The next morning, on Sharon’s windshield was a single rose and a piece of paper with the words “Don’t Take This the Wrong Way.”

It wasn’t long before they were serious.

After seeing “Fiddler on the Roof” in Columbia, Eric took Sharon to the lake to meet his brother. They took a walk, and he apologized for the argument they had a few days earlier. He stood behind her, and when she turned around, he was holding a diamond ring.

They married exactly a year later on June 9, 1996. Rabbi Mark Loeb officiated the ceremony at Beth El Congregation, and 150 friends and family members celebrated with them at Martin’s Westminster.

Twenty years later, they are the proud parents of Avery, 18, Marissa, 16, and Dean and Evan, 13.

“I still feel like when we first started dating,” Sharon said. “I still want to hang out with him.”

Linda L. Esterson is an Owings  Mills-based freelance writer. For “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or  email Linda.Esterson@verizon.net.

Love Letters

shefrin-currentMuriel & Art Shefrin

First Date: Fall 1953, movie and dinner

Wedding Date: Oct. 6, 1956

Venue: The Broadway Central Hotel, Manhattan

Residence: Pikesville

Favorite Activity: Traveling the East Coast and taking walks together

Arthur Shefrin would have had to answer to his parents if he hadn’t married Muriel Richelson, but it didn’t matter. His heart belonged to her in 1955, and it still does today, in 2016, after 60 years of marriage.

They met on a blind date in 1953, after a friend insisted Muriel come along.

“If I’m going to be your body guard, then I get to choose,” Muriel said about the two men. “And I choose the tall guy.”

Art’s sense of humor also attracted Muriel.

After two dates, the other couple’s relationship fizzled, and unfortunately, that left Art without a car. So he made the 90-minute trek from the Bronx to Brooklyn twice via subway but then did not call.

A year later, a letter arrived from Art, who was in Korea with the Army. Muriel replied, “raking him over the coals” for not calling but inviting him to continue writing.

After Art’s transfer to Hawaii, the writing continued. During a 30-day furlough, he used his father’s van to see Muriel.

“I realized how much I had missed him when I saw him again,” said Muriel, 82. “They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s true.”

At month’s end, after professing their love, they agreed to marry. Art told his parents before returning west.

shefrin-weddingeHis sister worked near Muriel, who served as a secretary for a textile company. She invited her to lunch, loved her and then invited her for the weekend with her parents. They too fell in love with Muriel.

After his discharge in December 1955, Art went to work as a salesman for Gerber Baby Foods.

On Oct. 6, 1956, about 100 family members and friends attended their nuptials at the Broadway Central Hotel in Manhattan.

“The first time I saw her [at the wedding] was coming down the aisle. I was stunned,” recalled Art, now 83. She was beautiful. She still is.”

Muriel too was elated. She had found “Mr. Right,” compassionate, considerate and everything she wanted.

While in Brooklyn, they welcomed Andrea in 1958. Melissa was born in 1970 in Baltimore after a transfer through Art’s employer, Custom Shirt Shop.

They raised the family in Randallstown and 10 years ago moved to Pomona Square. Muriel spent 25 years in department store sales before retiring in 2007, then worked in the library system part time for eight years. Art left Custom and joined Jos. A. Bank, where he still works part time after three retirements.

Today, they enjoy a community college current events class and spending time with their teenage grandsons. Wednesday is Art’s night to cook.

They still love each other as demonstrated by their nightly cuddles, kisses goodbye and hand-holding during walks together.

“It’s like having a comfortable shoe you feel terrific in,” said Muriel. “You never want to take it off the rest of your life.”

Linda L. Esterson is an Owings  Mills-based freelance writer. For  “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or  email Linda.Esterson@verizon.net.

The Next Day

rutkovitz-weddingLauren & Steve Rutkovitz

First Date:  March 1985, the Rusty Scupper

Wedding Date: Sept. 20, 1986

Ceremony: Beth Israel Congregation

Reception: The Forum

Residence: Owings Mills

Favorite Activity: Going to the beach

Lauren Pollack and Steve Rutkovitz became friends while attending Randallstown High school in the late 1970s.

Steve graduated and studied business at Frostburg State College. Lauren, two years his junior, went on to the Von Lee International School of Cosmetics.

Following a bridal shower for a friend in March 1985, both were part of a group that went dancing in Towson.

“In the wedding spirit,” they danced and had a wonderful night. The next day, Lauren told Florence Pollack she was “in love with this guy.”

“One day, we were really good friends,” said Lauren, 55, owner of A Style Studio in Pikesville. “The next day, we were in love.”

The Rusty Scupper was the site of their first date the next weekend. After, they darted to Water Street to join their friends, who noticed how comfortable they were with each other.

“Our foundation was friendship,” said Steve, 56, owner of Choice Cybersecurity. “That was really important.”

rutkovitz-currentThe following week, Steve invited Lauren to join him on an Atlantic City bus trip. He won $600 and gave her half.

Lauren had another revelation for her mom. “This guy’s lucky,” she said. “I’m going to marry him.”

They had fallen in love quickly, and Steve joined the Pollacks for a Passover seder a month later.

On Erev Rosh Hashanah, they prepared to join Florence and Howard Pollack and the rest of the family for dinner. Charlotte and Teddy Rutkovitz were invited as well. But first, fresh off a trip from Florida, Steve had a present for Lauren.

When he handed her a bag of oranges, Lauren noticed he was sweaty and nervous. She quickly learned why: He asked her to marry him, revealing a beautiful diamond ring stashed in his pocket.

They married a year later on Sept. 20, 1986. Rabbi Seymour Essrog officiated the ceremony at Beth Israel Congregation. The 300 friends and family members joined the celebration at the Forum.

“It was the most fun I ever had,” said Lauren. “We never sat down the entire wedding. Someone older and wiser gave us advice to enjoy each other. We danced the entire night. It was magical.”

After a honeymoon in St. Martin, they moved into their townhome in Courtland Woods. Over the next 11 years, they  expanded their family with Alex (1988), Matt (1991) and Peri (1997).

As they celebrate their 30th anniversary, they are enjoying their newfound time together as empty nesters, sans sports, recitals and birthday parties. Their children live out of state: Alex works remotely for Steve in New Jersey; Matt owns a software company in Florida; and Peri is a singer/songwriter in school in New York. Each comes home periodically to see them.

“It doesn’t seem like 30 years,” said Steve. “It just flew by. Looking at Lauren, it seems like we just got married. I still feel the same way.”

They look forward to spending time at their Fenwick Island beach house and traveling.

“I wouldn’t change anything in our life,” said Lauren. “We’ve had a great life.”

Linda L. Esterson is an Owings  Mills-based freelance writer. For  “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or  email Linda.Esterson@verizon.net.

Simply Compatible

Photos provided

Photos provided

Linda & David Koren

First Date:
Jan. 10, 1986, Westview Cinema and Pargo’s Restaurant

Wedding Date:
Sept. 20, 1986

Chizuk Amuno Congregation

Venice, Fla.

Favorite Activity:
Walking together


For a few years, David Koren, with friends Carl and Robin Goodman, rented a townhouse in Randallstown.

The Goodmans set him up with Linda Jaffe, a nice Jewish girl, also from Randallstown.

Coincidentally, both graduated from Randallstown High a year apart. They grew up just four blocks from each other, and their brothers were friends.

At the door before their first date in January 1986, Linda held Brandy, the family dog. Usually skittish, Brandy liked David, which proved an omen. Rona and Seth Jaffe liked David as well.

Linda and David went to two places now closed — the Westview Cinema and Pargo’s Restaurant. After, they sat in the car, comfortably talking. David walked Linda to the door and delivered a peck on her cheek.

A week later, David invited Linda to watch TV. Both “homebodies,” she agreed.

They discovered more in common: Their families knew each other, and they had both lost family members around the same time. They quickly fell in love.

“I just knew,” said David, 55. “It just came so easily, so naturally.”

While upstairs in the townhouse, six weeks after their first date, David knelt down and asked Linda to marry him.

“We were in our early 20s, both ready to settle down,”  explained Linda, 54. “We didn’t want to date anymore.”

beshert-nowThey married seven months later, on Sept. 20, 1986, at Chizuk Amuno Congregation. A little bit of adversity ensued as a bridesmaid tripped up the stairs to the bimah, Linda’s grandmother fainted delaying their introduction as husband and wife, the dessert truck crashed on the way to the  reception, and Rona’s Pontiac stalled as they were leaving. They laughed, realizing they could get through anything  together.

They lived in a few rentals before buying their first home in Reisterstown in 1991. By that time, their daughter, Heather, was 4 years old, and Linda was pregnant with Jeremy, named for David’s father, Gerald Koren.

In 2007, they moved to Venice, Fla., to be near Linda’s parents. Today, they enjoy spending time with their granddaughters, Skyping with Jeremy, stationed in Washington State with the Navy, dining out, watching Ravens games, walking and traveling.

Linda and David recently celebrated their 30th anniversary.

“It’s gone by in the blink of an eye,” said David. “I can’t  believe it.”

Like all couples, they’ve weathered a few storms, especially the loss of family members including Linda’s father last December.

Realizing that no marriage is perfect, Linda acknowledges they disagree far less than in their early years together. Most arguments were petty, related to their kids.

Today, they return home after work — Linda does billing for a plastic surgery practice, and David is a project manager for a commercial glass company — and eat dinner  together, talk, watch TV and then part ways for a while until bedtime.

“The compatibility between us is unmatched,” said David. “It’s made it so easy.”

David is also a firm believer in marrying within the faith, as well as compromising.

“Give in to each other,” added Linda. “It’s about give and take.”

Linda L. Esterson is an Owings  Mills-based freelance writer. For  “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or  email Linda.Esterson@verizon.net.

Miles for Love

(The Edges Wedding Photopraphy)

(The Edges Wedding Photopraphy)

Rebecca and Max  Brondfield

First Date: John Harvard Bar Mitzvah Event at Harvard Hillel, Nov. 7, 2009

Wedding Date: May 29, 2016

Venue: Vintners Inn, Santa Rosa, Calif.

Residence: San Francisco, Calif.

Favorite Activity: Wine tasting and cooking


As Harvard University Hillel’s president, Rebecca Gillette always was busy. So when a friend introduced Max Brondfield to the Baltimore native, she was  occupied. He knew, however, he would see her again.

Over time, they realized they lived in the same dorm hall and shared much in common. They conversed online until the wee hours while writing papers.

Their official first date was to Hillel’s John Harvard Bar Mitzvah on Nov. 7, 2009. They attended college formals and many Hillel events, and ventured together through Boston as tourists. They realized they shared common values, a strong Jewish faith and similar interests in movies, museums and shows. A fellowship in Washington, D.C. didn’t keep Rebecca away following graduation. She  visited often.

After Max graduated, they moved across the country when he enrolled at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. It was  an essential time in their  relationship.

“Getting through a very intense experience … was important for us,” said Rebecca, 27.

In the meantime, she applied for master’s programs. Not wanting to leave Max, she  almost didn’t apply to Yale University, one of the top programs in nonprofit management. He encouraged her to go for it, which she did.

Rebecca worried about their future if she moved back east. In December 2013, Max took a board exam on a Tuesday, and they celebrated on Wednesday. On Thursday, Max took Rebecca to Golden Gate Park, where they re-enacted their first photograph together four years earlier. After, they stopped at their apartment. Rose petals formed a path from the door to a circle in the living room. There, a bottle of champagne and a bouquet of roses waited.

Rebecca thought it sweet, unaware. Then Max knelt down and proposed with a  diamond reset from his grandmother’s ring. Max’s parents, Eric Bronfield and Jane Melnick, came to celebrate. Unlike their daughter, Ellen and Richard Gilette were aware,  although Richard was in China on business. Then, Rebecca joined the Brondfields on a Hawaiian vacation.

“Max’s family really took me in as a daughter-in-law long before I was,” said Rebecca.

Max, too, melded with the Gillettes. Over Thanksgiving 2010 in Baltimore, Rebecca was assured when she heard Max and her brother, Aaron, conversing about sports late into the night.

They married during a whirlwind few weeks: Max’s medical school graduation in San Francisco on May 15, 2016; Rebecca’s graduate school commencement in Boston on May 23; and their wedding May 29 at the Vintner’s Inn in Santa Rosa. Dr. Bernie Steinberg, Rebecca’s former Hillel mentor who became a chaplain at University of California, Berkley, officiated the traditional Jewish ceremony. Following an intimate bedekken and ketubbah signing, the bride and groom circled each other under the chuppah and drank from two kiddush cups, one from  Rebecca’s family and the other that would become their own.

They plan a trip to Italy next summer, but in the meantime enjoy each other’s company.

“No matter what we’re doing, staying home or cooking, we’re always incredibly comfortable and have incredible fun,” said Max, 27. “Nothing makes me happier than to come home and spend time together.”

Linda L. Esterson is an Owings  Mills-based freelance writer. For  “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or  email Linda.Esterson@verizon.net.

Love Deepens

(Photos provided)

(Photos provided)

Marilyn & Alan  Riffkin
First Date: December 1962  for ice skating

Wedding Date: July 3, 1966

Venue: Richfield Caterers,  Verona, N.J.

Residence: Silver Spring, Md.

Favorite Activity: Dining out

A glance at a JCC dance in  December 1962 was all it took.

Marilyn Friedman, a high school senior, spied Alan Riffkin, a student at Rutgers University. After talking, they went ice skating on a nearby pond. He held her hand.

“He was very good looking, had a great build. I just liked him,” said Marilyn, 70. “I knew from the moment we met. He was the one.”

The pair had much to talk about, especially their upbringing since they came from different parts of Highland Park, N.J.

“She was a nice person and very attractive,” said Alan, 72. “She’s still very attractive.”

Marilyn enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, earning an associate’s degree in children’s clothing design. Alan left Rutgers, worked for a few years and ultimately earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics.

(Photos provided)

(Photos provided)

Alan drove to New York to take Marilyn for dinner and a show. Other weekends, she came home to see him.

One day in June 1965, Marilyn pulled Alan off the tennis court. They hopped in the backseat of her father’s car; her parents sat up front. Alan, who hadn’t even changed his clothes, asked her father for her hand in marriage.

They married July 3, 1966 at Richfield Caterers in Verona, N.J. About 250 guests witnessed the ceremony by Rabbi Philip Raymond, the principal of the yeshiva that Marilyn attended.

Marilyn designed her own wedding gown, an A-line made of peau de soie, a heavy silk.

Friends and family enjoyed the tremendous affair.

In 1967, Alan joined the Army reserves and went for basic training. After about a month, Marilyn moved to Fort Jackson in South Carolina.

In 1969, they moved to Greenbelt, Md. Alan got a job in Washington as an agricultural economist, a position he held for 50 years before retiring in 2014. They settled in Silver Spring in 1972 in the house they still own. The fourth bedroom, of course, was Marilyn’s sewing room for her freelance sewing business. She also spent 17 years as youth director for three different synagogues.

Their children, Michael and Andrew, joined them in 1970 and 1974. Life proved hectic with two young boys.

Throughout the years, they have made sure to keep their Saturday night date-night commitment to each other. They shared the cooking duties, as both enjoyed it.

Today, they serve as the sisterhood caterer for Kiddushes and b’nai mitzvah at Oseh Shalom in Laurel.

Along with their date night, they take senior fitness classes together twice a week and enjoy spending time with their four grandchildren.

Neither can believe they  recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with an elegant dinner at La Ferme in Chevy Chase, Md. “Our love has grown,” said Marilyn. “Over the years as things happen, the love deepens.”

Linda L. Esterson is an Owings  Mills-based freelance writer. For  “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or  email Linda.Esterson@verizon.net.

Walk the Talk

(Photo provided)

(Photo provided)

Amanda & Noah  Isserman

First Date:
June 16, 2012, Golden West Café  in Hampden

Wedding Date:
Sept. 5, 2015

Westin Annapolis

Arlington, Va.

Favorite Activity:
Running; dining out and  the movies

In May 2012, Amanda Schnitzer traveled to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Bethesda, Md., office for a meeting.

She spotted Noah Isserman. That was it.

Noah was cute, Jewish, and they interacted well.

“I was nervous,” Amanda recalled. “I had a rule that I wouldn’t date anybody at work.”

She decided they would be friends. Over time, however, she realized she really liked him.

Noah also took notice and schemed to make their pairing happen. Knowing she lived in Baltimore, he invited her and a co-worker to a former roommate’s party in Charm City. The co-worker declined.

Amanda showed up late, and she and Noah talked for a long while. A day later, Noah sent a text message, asking her to dinner. She wrote back that she was busy.

Amanda was back in Bethesda the next day, and Noah tried again. She agreed.

Noah traveled from Silver Spring, Md., to meet Amanda at the Golden West Café in Hampden. They ordered appetizer tater tots, a recurring theme for future dates, as Noah stated “only the best” for them.

Their smooth conversation revealed much in common. When they parted ways,  both were too nervous to kiss goodnight.

For six months, they kept their relationship private until Amanda’s boss ran into them at a grocery store on a Sunday morning. They spent their time together enjoying movies, walking, hiking, exploring, dining out and running half-marathons.

A year later, they moved in together, and Amanda transferred to the Washington, D.C., office. By then, Noah had become a senior policy manager for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a position he currently holds.

They talked about their dreams, expectations for family and the future. They went ring shopping once, and that ended abruptly when Amanda picked up a four-karat, $150,000 ring, almost causing Noah to “have a stroke.” He decided to continue on his own and had the ring shipped to his office. He carried it around for weeks and contemplated proposing at a friend’s wedding. Not to upstage their friends, he waited until the next day when they jogged around the Washington, D.C., mall loop from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial.

They posed for pictures by the memorial, and when Amanda turned around, Noah suggested one more. He grabbed the ring from his pocket and knelt down. Instead of his “great planned speech,” he  admitted he wasn’t “good with words” before asking her to marry him.

They married nearly a year later on Sept. 5, 2015 at the Westin Annapolis. About 140 guests, including Jeffrey and Marlene Schnitzer and Dr. Mark and Janice Isserman, witnessed the traditional ceremony, which culminated in Noah smashing the ritual glass twice for  emphasis. The glass hangs today in a mezuzah in their home.

“He’s my other half, my best friend. I love him, and it feels right,” said Amanda, 28.

“We make each other laugh,” said Noah, 34. “I knew she was the one for me. She gets my sense of humor.”

Linda L. Esterson is an Owings  Mills-based freelance writer. For  “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or  email Linda.Esterson@verizon.net.


The Donens in 1956 (provided)

The Donens in 1956 (provided)

Ellen & Chuck Donen
First Date:
January 1955

Wedding Date:
June 24, 1956

Union Temple, Brooklyn, New York

North Oaks in Pikesville

Favorite Activity:
Being together


Ellen Krakower and Charles Donen first met on a blind date in Brooklyn, N.Y.

A friend arranged a blind date for Ellen and asked her to bring a friend for her date’s friend, Chuck. It was Christmas Eve 1954 and probably the most spiritual blind date ever. The group attended Friday night services at a local synagogue, headed to a night club and then witnessed midnight mass at a local church.

“It was just the thing to do,” Chuck said.

Sparks flew for neither couple. So Chuck asked Ellen out. Uncomfortable, Ellen refused. But he kept calling.

She finally relented, and they set a date only to have to cancel as both were ill — Ellen, a 21-year-old first-year teacher with chickenpox, and Chuck with appendicitis that sent the 25-year-old to the hospital.

Three weeks later, they went on a first date, although neither remembers much about it.

“He was very outgoing and social,” recalled Ellen, now 82, “whereas I tended to be just the opposite, shy and reserved.”

“She was cute and sweet and smart,” countered Chuck, 86.

Dates consisted of outings with friends, Ellen’s sorority events or the synagogue/church marathon.

By November, Chuck was certain she was the one, and he gave Ellen a large box for her birthday. With his mother and grandmother watching, Ellen opened five boxes until she saw his mother’s diamond reset for her.

The Donens now (provided)

The Donens now (provided)

They married at the Union Temple in Brooklyn on June 24, 1956 with about 150 guests in attendance. The young couple honeymooned for a few nights at the Henry Hudson Hotel before Ellen finished out the school year. They enjoyed a 10-day honeymoon in July to Canada before settling in an apartment in Queens.

They fell asleep to the sounds of La Guardia flights and gave birth to a son, Steven, in July 1957. They moved to Connecticut for Chuck’s new engineering job. After giving birth to a daughter, Cindy, in October 1960, they bought a house in Norwalk.

Ellen returned to teaching when Cindy enrolled in kindergarten. Both remained active in a variety of organizations in the Jewish community including in their synagogue, with the federation and a chavurah they founded with a group of friends. They also  enjoyed their family time.

In September 2015, they moved to North Oaks in Pikesville to be closer to Cindy and her husband, Beth Israel Congregation Rabbi Jay Goldstein, and their four grown grandchildren. They are active members of the senior community, partaking in music, art and exercise classes, book club and various lectures.

Neither can believe they will soon celebrate 60 years of marriage.

“All the things we’ve done over the years, time went by [quickly] because we were so busy,” said Chuck. “She hasn’t changed much.”

“He’s the same outgoing person that attracted me in the first place,” added Ellen.

When asked to provide advice for newlywed couples, they stressed the importance of having individual interests, but just as important is spending time together.

“We enjoy being with each other, doing things together,” said Chuck. “We always have been very active together and enjoy being together.”


Linda L. Esterson is an Owings  Mills-based freelance writer. For  “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or  email Linda.Esterson@verizon.net.

Play Ball

(Photography by Brea, LLC)

(Photography by Brea, LLC)

Sandy & Brett Sanders
First Date: July 4, 2005 at Panera Bread in Pikesville
Wedding Date: Aug. 1, 2015
Venue: Celebrations at the Bay,  Pasadena, Md.
Residence: Brewers Hill/Canton
Favorite Activity: Dining Out

Sandy Stutman met Brett Sanders on the Franklin High School varsity baseball team bus. Sandy was the team’s manager. Brett, the catcher, recalls a teammate telling him great with amusement that if they married, her name would be Sandy Sanders.

The next year, they were in math class together, and Brett spent several afternoons at the Stutmans getting help with his homework.

“I let him copy my homework because Brett’s parents have a really nice swimming pool,” said Sandy, now 28, an events producer for Feats, Inc. “We became best friends.”

That summer, they began dating, although not when Brett first asked. At 17, she wasn’t interested in ruining their friendship. He had to ask a  second time before she agreed.

In high school, she was the  most beautiful person I could imagine, and she liked me too. Since college, I still think the same things, but she’s also  someone I can go through  life with and support me and push me to go further.” — Brett Sanders


“It was one of the best years of my life,” said Brett, 27. “Life was all about Sandy, baseball and having fun. It laid a good foundation for us.”

Their college careers began apart, with Brett playing baseball close to home and Sandy venturing to Penn State University. Brett made the four-hour trek on alternating weekends. He then transferred to Penn State, in large part because of Sandy. They were no longer high school crushes but adults in a relationship.

“In high school, she was the most beautiful person I could imagine, and she liked me too,” said Brett, a CPA with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Baltimore. “Since college, I still think the same things, but she’s also someone I can go through life with and support me and push me to go further.”

A “hopeless romantic,” Brett remembers telling Sandy he would marry her when they were just 16. The first time they talked marriage as adults, they were 23. Brett saw the “fear in Sandy’s eyes” and retreated.

It wasn’t until Sandy realized their true partnership that she contemplated their  future together.

Brett invited Sandy to take a walk along the docks one day in July 2014. They headed down Boston Street and walked to the corner by the water. Brett distracted Sandy, pointing out a distant landmark.

When she turned around, Brett had knelt down. Sandy inadvertently knocked the ring box from his hand, nearly sending it into the water.  Their families surprised them at Amiccis in Little Italy to  celebrate, and then they grabbed dessert at Vaccaro’s.

With their careers in full swing, they set the date for Aug. 1, 2015. Rabbi Geoff Basik performed the traditional ceremony outdoors at Celebrations at the Bay in Pasadena. Approximately 180 guests witnessed the exchange of vows, the seven blessings and the breaking of the glass. The bride and groom nestled under the chuppah, as their parents, Emily and Allan Sanders, Glori and Gary Shapiro and Michael Stutman looked on.

“The foundation of us was that we were best friends,” said Sandy. “It definitely helped our relationship be strong and get stronger throughout the years.”

Linda L. Esterson is an Owings  Mills-based freelance writer. For  “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or  email Linda.Esterson@verizon.net.

Run to You

Jen & Eric Schulman (L.A. Birdie Photography)

Jen & Eric Schulman (L.A. Birdie Photography)

Jen & Eric Schulman

First Official Date:
July 13, 2013; bowling,
dinner and drinks

Wedding Date:
Sept. 19, 2015

The Barn at Grimmel Farms,
Jarrettsville, Md.


Favorite Activity:


On a warm Saturday in August 2014, Eric Schulman and Jen Winters set out on a seven-mile training run in advance of the Baltimore Running Festival. Always prepared, Eric filled his pockets with energy gels for fuel in the heat.

Upon approaching the Domino’s Sugar sign, about a half-mile from their Locust Point home, Eric led Jen to a nearby pier. He stopped, removed his ear buds, declared his love to her and then dropped to one knee and proposed.

Overwhelmed and excited, Jen accepted his request, as a friend stationed on the next pier caught the moment on camera. They spent the day visiting their memorable spots around town, including the Red Star, site of their first date.

One of those locations was a friend’s father’s yacht, and upon arrival, they found their closest friends, including a few from out of town, on board. The group enjoyed a celebratory sail around the Inner Harbor and then headed to Max’s Tap House, where the couple had shared drinks on their first date. At the bar, their families, including parents Lester and Birgit Winters, Jane Sacks and Bob and Laura Schulman, surprised them and continued the celebration.

In February 2013, Evan Lambert-McMichael, a close friend of Eric’s during summers at Camp Airy and Jen’s during middle school, introduced them. Jen and Eric also knew of each other, as their mothers worked together at Church Lane Elementary School.

After hanging out with friends, they realized they shared common interests, most notably running, and they began running together. Eric helped Jen move and paint her new house in May. By their official first date in July, they were fast friends.

Their relationship, and the miles shared on the running circuit grew. Together, they entered half-marathons in Baltimore and Frederick, and Eric helped Jen train for her first full marathon in Cleveland in May 2015. Marathon running is intense and strengthened their bond, they said.

“When you’re at your weakest, you’re vulnerable,” said Eric, 28, communications specialist for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It’s a great experience to see the ups and downs and finish together.”

Besides running they enjoy watching movies, biking, cooking, trying new restaurants and walks with Bulbasaur, their 8-year-old pit bull.

Jen and Eric were married on Sept. 19, 2015 at the Barn at Grimmel Farms in Jarrettsville, Md. Jen’s uncle built their chuppah, and they incorporated many Jewish customs including signing a ketubbah, and both stepped on glasses to commemorate the destruction of the Temple. Jen surprised her new mother-in-law by making her conversion official, under the direction of Beth El Congregation’s Rabbi Steven Schwartz, on Jane’s birthday, April 10, 2016. A celebratory brunch with family followed.

“I really enjoy the community aspect of Judaism … and I look forward to celebrating the Jewish holidays and being able to teach my children the stories and why (they) should be good (people),” said Jen, also 28, an agent aspirant with Mary Crow’s State Farm Insurance.

Jen recalls, after first meeting Eric, stating to a friend that whomever he ends up with will be one lucky girl.

Jen said, “I’m that lucky girl.”


Linda L. Esterson is an Owings Mills-based freelance writer. For “Beshert,” call 410-902-2305 or email Linda.Esterson@verizon.net.