Sidelined in Dallas for the pandemic, two college students spark a connection
Rafi and Leah Esther made their entrance as Mr. and Mrs. Margolies through hoops supported by friends including, clockwise from left, Esti Abrams, Ahuva Pacht and Chasida Lurie.

The b’shert next door

By Deb Silverthorn
The true spirit of b’shert, of finding one’s soulmate, shone brightly Thursday, Aug. 13, when Leah Esther Broodo and Rafi Margolies stood under the chuppah together, becoming one.
“There was a strong connection from the start, and it couldn’t be more right,” said the bride, the daughter of Beth and Chaim Broodo, and sister of Mordechai and Rachel. “I never imagined coming home for the pandemic would result in a wedding, but Hashem knew.”
The bride and groom grew up near each other in North Dallas and both attended Torah Day School of Dallas. Their families are longtime members of Congregation Ohr HaTorah, and both are studying in Baltimore, Maryland.
While the two could have crossed in the school courtyard or at a Shabbos oneg, they didn’t. While their parents have known one another, they didn’t socialize. While the fathers traveled on a Torah learning trip years ago, becoming in-laws could never have been imagined.
Despite the “could haves,” the two first met May 22, were engaged July 2 and married Aug. 13.
Last summer, Leah Esther, a 2018 Mesorah High School for Girls graduate, volunteered to help her friend Rachie Dimont create a women’s clothing gemach, or fund, in honor of Dimont’s late grandmother. Amid the preparing of clothing for loan and purchase, she and Joan Margolies, Rafi’s mother, first spent time together.
“Leah Esther and I have had quite a few conversations and I kept thinking maybe sometime, somehow they’d be right. They have so much in common,” said Margolies, whose daughter-in-law, Shani, also suggested the two were a good match. “I feel so blessed.”
When Leah Esther and Rafi returned to Dallas, amid the pandemic’s school closures, the idea returned to Margolies and she contacted Ohr HaTorah’s Rabbi Aryeh Feigenbaum, who introduced the pair.
“I’m honored to formally bring these two energetic, ambitious and thoughtful young people together,” said Rabbi Feigenbaum. “You can date a long time and not agree on how you imagine the future. These two, their goals, concerns and commitment to Yiddishkeit, match seamlessly.”
Rabbi Feigenbaum spoke to Rafi, to Leah Esther and their parents. He determined that the two had similar life aspirations and a foundation for their future, and set the pair up on a date.

The couple spent their first date at a park, arriving separately, masked and remaining socially distanced. By the end of a couple of hours of conversation, they said they each felt they’d always known one other.
“Our personalities clicked right away,” said Rafi, the son of Joan and Dr. Michael Margolies, the youngest brother of Andrew (Shani), Ari, Daniel (Rachel) and David. “My mom and sister-in-law started it. They know me, I trust them and they were right. I just married my best friend.”
After more dates, picnic dinners prepared mostly by Rafi (an “awesome cook” says his bride), long walks and talks and more time with Rabbi Feigenbaum, Rafi asked Chaim Broodo’s permission for his daughter’s hand.
“When coronavirus hit, I felt bad for my kids when everything stopped for months,” said Broodo. “Instead of Leah Esther’s young life pausing, it has blossomed, and we are so proud of her and grateful to Hashem.”
The mothers, “miracle workers,” according to the couple, were able to create their celebration at the Margolieses’ home in just weeks. Tables separated families, masks were included in the attire and a Zoom link brought friends and family in from around the world.
Last week, the newest Mr. and Mrs. Margolies headed back to Maryland to continue their individual studies and to begin their joined life.
Leah Esther, who expects to graduate in December from Women’s Institute of Torah Seminary, will be applying to graduate programs as she pursues a career as a mental health therapist. Rafi, who plans to graduate in the spring with a degree in Talmudic law from Ner Israel Rabbinical College, looks forward to a career teaching Gemara (rabbinic commentary on Jewish law). Next summer they hope to travel to Israel.
“From the beginning,” said Leah Esther, still reflecting on the enchanted starlit night that was beyond her dreams, “we were like best friends from another life.”

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