Same Difference

Renee & Jordan Rosenfeld (L. Martin Wedding Photography)
Renee & Jordan Rosenfeld (L. Martin Wedding Photography)

Renee & Jordan Rosenfeld
First Date: Aug. 12, 2012 for dinner at Jordan’s row house
Wedding Date: Oct. 13, 2013
Venue: Pass-a-Grille Beach in St. Pete Beach, Fla.
Residence: Ednor Gardens Lakeside in Baltimore
Favorite Activity: Biking to the downtown Farmers’ Market

Gemryl Samuels had been in the hospital a few days when her daughter, Renee, called to begin wedding planning. Just 36 hours earlier, she had gotten engaged to her beau, Jordan Rosenfeld.

The conversation turned bleak when Samuels told her daughter that she was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer, which was treatable only with chemotherapy.

Hysterical, Renee booked a flight for the next day to Florida. She reached Jordan, whose parents, Warren and Dana Rosenfeld, advised them to move the wedding up much sooner than the originally intended August 2014. He arrived in Florida the following day.

“I couldn’t imagine getting married without my mom there,” said Renee, 37, chief of staff for the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology in Baltimore.

Just a year earlier, Renee and Jordan had met through a mutual friend who had suggested Jordan for a city rowing team Renee was organizing. Jordan felt an immediate spark, but Renee discarded his flirting and even refused to join him for dinner after giving him a ride home.

“There was tension and electricity,” recalled Renee. “I panicked.”

At 3 a.m., she sent him a text message asking his age. He responded that he would be 25 that February.

“My parents say I was born 40,” said Jordan. “I’ve always been an intense young man. I don’t have a lot of patience with people my age.”

Renee, who had always dated older, “freaked out” at the realization that he was 20 years younger than her last boyfriend. But Jordan’s intellect and their common interests provoked different thoughts. Friends helped Renee see past their differences; they talked one night for three hours.

That weekend, they cooked for each other. Jordan knew they wouldn’t be seeing other people; they maintained their relationship following his return to his final semester at the University of Michigan Law School.

After Jordan’s graduation, they spent as much time together as possible. They discussed marriage late one night; Jordan proposed on their anniversary at Renee’s favorite restaurant.

In Florida, the pair found an intimate beach in the town of St. Pete Beach for the wedding instead of in Gemryl’s home country of Grenada.

About 15 family members, including Gemryl in a wheelchair, shared in the emotional nuptials.  Sheryl Goldstein, former deputy director at the Baltimore Jewish Council, performed the interfaith ceremony. It was held under a chuppah and featured Hebrew and Christian readings, the breaking of the glass and the signing of a ketubah. Jordan’s 82-year-old grandmother, Sondra Rosenfeld, read a prayer.

Seven weeks after the wedding, Renee’s mother passed away.

“I lost my best friend while gaining a new best friend,” said Renee.

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

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