The Value of Teamwork… and Snuggles


Rebecca Levitan & Andrew Lillien

  • First Date:
    November 2005; saw the movie “Jarhead”
  • Wedding Date: Sept. 4, 2011
  • Venue: Shomrei Emunah
  • Residence: Baltimore
  • Favorite Activity: Being together

Some couples know each other so well they can finish each other’s sentences. Others know each other so well they can finish each other’s wedding proposal.

“It was the beginning of January 2011,” Rebecca Levitan remembers. “I was working at Port Discovery at the time. Andrew’s initial plan was to sneak in before the end of the day and play music over the speaker and propose that way. But he miscalculated the timing. So he’s walking into the lobby in a whole suit, with flowers. And I’m leaving. I look at him, and he’s just — I knew right then what he was doing, and I was just like: ‘Yes! Definitely, yes!”

Andrew didn’t even get a word in, or, at least, “not a coherent one!” Rebecca adds with a laugh.

Rebecca and Andrew met their freshman year of college in 2005 at SUNY Binghamton. Both New York natives (Andrew hails from Great Neck, Long Island, while Rebecca is from Rochester), the two exchanged their first words at the kosher cafeteria.

Before that, however, during summer orientation, Rebecca’s mother, Rachel, who is an art and production coordinator at the JT’s parent company Mid-Atlantic Media, pointed Andrew out to Rebecca, while in the student union. “She said: ‘Look, there’s a guy with a kippah,’” Rebecca remembers. “I said: ‘Yeah. He needs a haircut.’”


Despite her initial impression, Rebecca agreed to see a movie with Andrew in November, “Jarhead” with Jake Gyllenhaal.

Rebecca says: “I knew this was somebody I wanted to spend more time with.” Andrew felt the same, saying: “I wanted to get to know her. She was a nice, cute girl with red hair.”

The pair dated five-and-a-half years. “Much too long!” says Andrew. “And much to the confusion of many people,” Rebecca says. “We could have cut it by a year or so.” Andrew adds: “Maybe more.”

Rebecca’s mom “was happy for us,” Rebecca remembers. When the two announced their engagement, Rebecca says, “she turned to Andrew and said: ‘Are you going to stop calling me ‘um’ now?’”

Andrew laughs at the memory, explaining: “I didn’t know how to address [Rebecca’s parents.] First names were too informal, last names were too formal, so I just said ‘um.’” Now he says, he calls her Eemah with no uncertainty.

The wedding took place on Sept. 4, 2011 at Shomrei Emunah, with a reception immediately following. “My rabbi, Dale Polakoff, flew down from Great Neck by personal plane,” says Andrew. “He was officiating a wedding in Brooklyn that evening. And I guess one of the benefits of being a rabbi on Long Island is perhaps one of your congregants has a plane and is willing to ferry you around every once in a while. He officiated, said ‘mazel tov,’ left and flew back to Long Island.”

The honeymoon had to wait: Rebecca had just started a new job and Andrew was pursuing his graduate degree in teaching. “My internship didn’t give me days off,” he says.

Today, Rebecca is a librarian at the Pikesville branch of Baltimore County Public Library, and Andrew is a data analyst. They have two children, Ziva, 4, who “loves being a big sister” to 16-month-old Tirtzah.

Though busy with work and parenting young children, Andrew and Rebecca “are a good team. We really support each other,” says Rebecca. Andrew loves that Rebecca is “understanding, supportive, humorous and loves to read a lot.” Rebecca laughs at this, and asks: “Are you serious?” Andrew responds: “It’s important that you’re a reader!”

Rebecca says: “I love that he is incredibly supportive and makes me laugh. And I love that he thinks snuggling is going to keep him alive. He gets upset when there’s not enough snuggles in a week.”

Erica Rimlinger is a local freelance writer.

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