First Date: Winter 2014
Wedding Date: November 22, 2015
Venue: Congregation Shomrei Emunah
Favorite Activity: Spending time with family and friends on weekends, going to the JCC, just being together.
Hailing from opposite sides of the world, Gavriel and Rebecca Brown feel lucky to have met. Gavriel was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Silver Spring and lived in various other places. Rebecca lived most of her life in Sydney, Australia.
In 2014, the two were both in Manhattan. Gavriel was at Yeshiva University, while Rebecca worked in the fashion editorial industry and lived on the Upper West Side.
Their paths crossed at a fundraising event for Save a Child’s Heart. Gavriel volunteered for the cause in Israel and looked forward to attending, but Rebecca, invited by a friend, almost didn’t go. Her mother, a true “Jewish mum,” encouraged her to get out and meet people. Rebecca reluctantly obliged, telling her roommate she’d “probably leave early.”
“She was striking,” Gavriel thought upon being introduced by a mutual friend. The two clicked immediately.
“We talked all night,” Rebecca said. Despite growing up continents away, they had “a lot” in common. She didn’t leave early.
At the end of the event, she took a cab and he got on the subway. He was halfway home when he realized: he hadn’t gotten her number. It was an oversight on Gavriel’s part, but Rebecca thought it was intentional.
Fortunately, they met in the age of social media. Gavriel tracked down Rebecca the next day and ask her out via Facebook Messenger.
Rebecca remembers they went to Fat Cat, “an underground bar” in the West Village with games like table tennis, shuffleboard, pool and cornhole.
“It wasn’t just a bar setting: we were playing fun games, so it was very lighthearted,” Rebecca said.
The cold winter allowed them to get to know each other in cozy, leisurely settings like “quiet restaurants and museums,” Gavriel said. He was in his senior year of college, “so I was juggling a lot. But Bec made time to see me and I made time to see her.”
One year later, as Gavriel helped Rebecca clean for Pesach, he abruptly left her apartment “to clean the oven at his apartment.” He returned a little later and told her about his family’s tradition of Bedikat Chametz, the search for any remaining chametz in the home. His family elaborately hides 10 pieces of bread around the house, and he wanted them to adopt the tradition.
Rebecca recalled going in her roommate’s room while he hid the pieces.
“He says: ‘okay, I’m ready,” Rebecca said. “I walk out of [the room.] He was dressed in a smart, button-down shirt. I was like, ‘What’s going on?’”
Rebecca found the hidden pieces of bread, trembling with nerves “because I didn’t know why he was dressed so nicely.”
After she found nine pieces, he told her there was one more. Rebecca turned around to Gavriel down on one knee: The 10th piece of bread was an engagement ring. Gavriel also gave her a picture book of shots from all their dates.
Rebecca and Gavriel married stateside in November 2015 at Congregation Shomrei Emunah. Shortly after the wedding, the couple moved to Baltimore so Gavriel could pursue his doctorate in education research at Johns Hopkins University. Rebecca now works in philanthropy at The Associated, and for the past year and a half has also been the style editor for Baltimore Style magazine.
The couple’s eight-month-old daughter, Adi, who is “the brightest joy of our lives,” said Rebecca. The new parents love spending time with their daughter and are excited about all her new developments.
The Browns are members of Suburban Orthodox. Gavriel says their faith and congregation plays a role in the success of their marriage and family.
“A successful marriage doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” Gavriel said. “Your community, your synagogue, is really important to be successful.”
Gavriel says he loves how Rebecca can “keep up connections with family and friends. It’s a real intelligence, to be able to make friends very quickly and stay in touch with those friends, whether in the U.S. or Australia.”
Rebecca admires Gavriel’s “determination, ambition and tenacity” and says she loves seeing him as a father.
“He is “super-dad,” she says.
Gavriel loves Rebecca’s parenting as well, admiring her “instinctively good mothering.”
“Now we’re a family blessed with a beautiful baby,” says Rebecca. “I’m so grateful I get to share my life with them.”
Home is a “safe space,” where “I know every morning I wake up next to my best friend.”