L’chaim and maadhimisho mema wa nods
By Deb Silverthorn
Mazel Tov and happy first anniversary, l’chaim and maadhimisho mema wa nods (“happy anniversary” in Swahili), to Adam and Yaara Grunewald, who were wed July 24, 2021.
He is from Dallas and she was born in Israel. The two will celebrate their first anniversary in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, where they now make their home.
Adam is the son of Fred and Jerri Grunewald; brother of Madelyn (Max) Mullen and Max (Sabrina) Grunewald; and uncle of Charlotte and Caroline Grunewald and Miles and Micah Mullen. Raised at Temple Shalom, Adam graduated from The Greenhill School and was a NFTY member. He started at Johns Hopkins University and, after volunteering as a teacher in Israel with Livnot U’Lehibanot, transferred to and graduated from Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
After starting a nonprofit organization that supported the Sudanese and Eritrean community in Israel, Adam went to work for Google in San Francisco. He then transferred with the company to Kenya and, four years later, founded Lynk, a technology startup that connects households and businesses to blue-collar service providers such as plumbers, electricians, aestheticians and dozens of others.
Born in Jerusalem, Yaara is the daughter of Ephraim and Hagit Nuri, and sister of Yarden and Omri. In her teens, she was a member of the Hanoar Ha’oved ve’Halomed youth movement. She served as an infantry soldier in the Karakal unit of the Israel Defense Forces and then graduated from the University of Haifa as a licensed speech therapist and audiologist. A chance opportunity brought her to Nairobi, Kenya, where she served as a consular officer for the Israeli Embassy of Nairobi.
Adam and Yaara met in 2017 in Nairobi, when she signed on to his company’s app, looking to hire a cook. Serendipitously, Adam saw the request and reached out to her to provide support. The rest is history.
“I was helping customer service and noticed that she was from Israel, grew up near where I lived and that we had a few friends in common … and, she was beautiful,” he said. “I’m forever grateful that I saw her request come in and reached out to help her myself.”
After dating for nearly four years, in February 2021, with scattered flowers around their home and notes leading to their backyard, Yaara found Adam with a ring and Champagne there to propose.
That May, the couple, both sets of parents, friends and family joined in a traditional North African henna engagement ceremony in Caesarea, and in July, the wedding took place in Nairobi.
“Traveling is something we have always loved and the sense of adventure is something we passed on to our children. It’s not a surprise that Adam would find in his beshert someone with that same spirit,” said Adam’s father, Fred.
“Adam and Yaara did an incredible job of planning every moment of the wedding, making everyone feel comfortable,” added Fred. “They planned memorable experiences throughout our visit.”
“Give me an adventure and I’ll go,” said Jerri, originally from Philadelphia. The senior Grunewald couple met at a Jewish young singles dance at the JCC in Cleveland and, nearly 10 months later — on July 6, 1980 — they were married. “Forty-one years after we married in Buffalo, New York, we were thrilled to travel around the world to share in our kids’ simcha.”
Joining the couple for 10 days, including time before and after the wedding, were 31 friends and family members who traveled from the United States, Israel, Italy and South America. Another 80 or so of Adam and Yaara’s local friends and colleagues joined them on their wedding day.
The traveling guests began their stay, on July 18, with a dinner of Kenyan fusion cuisine and drinks at Nyama Mama and, the next day, a tour of the Kiambethu Tea Farm. A two-day safari adventure, at the Masai Mara National Reserve, occupied them during the annual migration.
They toured Karen, which borders Nairobi National Park, visiting the Giraffe Centre and The David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. The Shabbat eve rehearsal dinner was held at Cultiva Farms and prepared by an Ecuadorian-born chef, in homage to Adam’s father, who grew up in Ecuador.
The day of the wedding, guests gathered at the Eden Hotel, where the couple exchanged vows officiated by their close friend, and Adam’s former roommate in Israel, Ido Tenenbaum. A vegan meal dedicated to the bride, dancing and festivities completed the evening.
The newlyweds shared their first four days of marriage together with their visiting guests, the group taking the party to Diani Beach on the Indian Ocean. Sleeping in villas on the beach, guests enjoyed everything from marine adventures to relaxing oceanside views.
“The resorts and tourist destinations had just reopened, and we were one of the first safari groups back since the pandemic began. They were glad to have guests and it was a very special time,” said Yaara. “We were honored to have so many people we care about join us and we loved every bit of putting it all together.”
Alone again, once their guests had left, the couple honeymooned for 10 days on Lamu Island along Kenya’s coast.
Almost a year later, Adam is an investor and entrepreneur-in-residence with Connected Capital and the two have settled in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Yaara plans to pursue a graduate degree and return to work in the health care sector.
“We’re grateful to everyone who came to share with us. It really was a bucket list experience for us all,” said Adam. “My own ‘best’ moment, and there really are so many, was seeing Yaara for the first time on the day of the wedding. She was — she is — incredible and I’m very blessed.”