How Do You Say Smitten in Yiddish?
A shared appreciation for language (specifically, Yiddish) helped Rebecca Woods and Beth Schafer hit it off.,
“What kind of goofazoid puts her full name on Tinder,” Rebecca Woods had wondered in May 2019 when Beth Abrams Schafer’s first and last name showed up on the dating app.
Ms. Schafer, just out of a relationship, said she felt a bit “stymied” when it came to meeting people.
Ms. Woods, though, became intrigued enough to swipe right after looking Ms. Schafer up on Google, Facebook and her work home page.
Ms. Shafer, 53, who graduated from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, is the Bunzl Family Cantorial chair at Temple Sinai in Sandy Springs, Ga. She is also a Reform Jewish folk-rock musician who sings, plays guitar and composes music, with albums on streaming and download platforms.
“She sounded like a really awesome human,” said Ms. Woods, 49, who at the time had recently separated from her wife. (Her marriage ended in divorce in 2020, two years after Ms. Schafer divorced her husband.)
They met in person about a week after matching on Tinder, at a wine bar in Sandy Springs after work — Ms. Schafer’s first online date, Ms. Woods’s third. Not only was the “million-dollar smile” on Ms. Woods’s profile photo “true to form,” said Ms. Schafer, oddly enough she also had a good working Yiddish vocabulary.
“I have a freakish fluency in Yiddish for a non-Jewish Irish woman,” said Ms. Woods, who works as a partner in the Atlanta office of the law firm Seyfarth Shaw, where she is the chair of the Atlanta Litigation Practice Group. She graduated from Ohio State, from which she also received a law degree, and is on the board of Chris 180, an Atlanta social services organization.
Halfway through the evening, Ms. Schafer asked Ms. Woods if she would like to get together again, and as they hugged goodbye she said “yes.”
A second date wasn’t the only thing Ms. Schafer left with — she also saved her receipt from the wine bar.
“On the front I wrote ‘wow’ and a little heart,” she said.
A couple of days later, Ms. Woods called her for a last-minute date at St. Cecilia bar. There, “she touched my arm,” said Ms. Schafer, “and I short-circuited.”
The following week, Ms. Schafer went to Ms. Woods’s place for dinner and kissed her in the driveway as soon as she arrived.
“I was gobsmacked,” said Ms. Woods, who had three of Ms. Schafer’s favorite bourbons on hand.
They quickly became exclusive, attending a baseball game, an “Indigo Girls” concert and more dinners together. Ms. Woods also attended a High Holiday service at the synagogue where Ms. Schafer works.
“She survived her first High Holy Day season with me,” said Ms. Schafer, who wowed Ms. Woods with her rendition of Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur.
That fall they met each other’s children — Ms. Woods’s son Ben, now 15, and Ms Schafer’s two daughters, Hannah, 23 and Sarah, 21.
In April 2020, Ms. Schafer gave Ms. Woods a framed copy of the receipt from their first date for her birthday. For the occasion, she also composed a ballad, “Rebecca,” now on Spotify.
“The words just fell onto the page,” said Ms. Schafer.
The next month, Ms. Schafer moved into Ms. Woods’s house — an adjustment for everyone, especially Ms. Schafer’s Shih Tzu poodle and Ms. Woods’s two Portuguese water dogs.
Later that year, after the rigorous High Holiday season, the two took a trip to the mountains of Highlands, N.C.
Ms. Woods proposed on the balcony of their hotel on Oct. 11, 2020, and the next day Ms. Schafer called her synagogue to book a wedding date.
On Oct. 30, Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell performed the ceremony with Rabbi Ron Segal at Temple Sinai, before 110 vaccinated guests. Friends of Ms. Woods drove the hand-painted ketubah, done by another friend of hers, from Seattle.
The brides each walked down the aisle with their children. Ms. Schafer later sang “Rebecca” as part of a 10-minute set, and they celebrated by dancing the hora and enjoying apple, pecan and pumpkin pies.