I completed my conversion to Judaism this past March, the weekend before Passover. Between the time of meeting with the Bet Din (jury of three rabbis) and my Mikvah (ritual immersion), my synagogue posted information on applying to go on Birthright during the summer. I wasn’t too sure about applying. I wasn’t even technically fully Jewish yet (although I would be by the trip), and there were people who were born Jewish who had never gotten a chance to go to Israel, like Gander. Did I really deserve to take a spot away from one of them? In the end, Gander was the one that pushed me to apply, telling me I worked harder to be Jewish than any born Jew he knew, and I deserved it just as much, if not more than some of them. So, I applied and I got accepted! It was the most life changing ten days of my life.
City of Jerusalem / Personal photo
Little did I know, there would be more life changing events upon my return.
While I was walking through the streets of Jerusalem and the Galilee, Gander was talking to Bubbe Gan. Many, many months earlier, she had made him an extremely generous offer. She wanted to give him a ring to propose to me with. The ring was one Zaida Gan had given her for their 40th anniversary, with a diamond from his great-grandmother.
They took the ring to a family friend at Kahns Jewellers to get the ring resized. While they were there, Gander also made an additional inquiry. He knew how important it was to me to wear my engagement ring with my wedding band; however, this ring has a very unique setting. They looked into getting a wedding band made to fit with it. He was told the engagement ring should be ready the weekend after I got home.
I was due home on Thursday. On Wednesday, Gander got a call from Bubbe Gan. The ring was ready. He decided it was a sign—he was supposed to propose soon after I got back. So, he made the necessary preparations. He bought a bouquet of purple roses and a bottle of champagne. He made sure those were in place before he left Thursday afternoon to meet me at the airport. He had a plan all set in his mind. Pick me up, take my stuff home, head out for sushi dinner, come home, and pop the question.
Now, I don’t know how many of you have been on a Birthright trip in Israel or taken a nonstop flight from the Middle East to North America, but both are EXHAUSTING. I got off the plane, and I was gross, sick, and tired. All I wanted to do was sleep. As soon as I stepped out of baggage claim to passenger pick-up, I scanned the crowd, looking for Gander. When I found him, we both lit up. I felt like I hadn’t seen him in a year and a half (as opposed to a week and a half). We grabbed a taxi and headed home.
The Gander is a very talkative man, so the fact that he was so quiet on the ride home was surprising. I decided to write it off as him letting me go on about my trip to Israel. The whole time, he just sat with me, holding my hand in the back of that taxi. We got home, and he brought my suitcase up to our apartment and into the bedroom. While he was in there, I stopped to say hello to Elvis. Gander came back from the bedroom, carrying the roses. Not suspecting anything, I assumed this was a “welcome home” bouquet. He then told me how much he loves me and can’t live without me in his life. He got down on one knee and, using my full name, asked “Will you marry me?” I was in such shock and so overcome with emotion—all I could squeak out was a tiny “Yes” (which Gander loves to bring up any time he can). He got up and went to the kitchen, where he grabbed the bottle of champagne he had been chilling, and we popped it right away to celebrate before going out.
The ring, while at dinner / Personal photo
Gander confessed to me that his original plan was to wait until after dinner or the next day, but as soon as he saw me at the airport, he had to do it right away. I’m glad he did—everything about the whole proposal was perfect.