Occasionally a man and a woman realize they are bashert almost from the moment they meet. Tamara and Barry Freeman were fortunate enough to have that insight, and over the years have taken care to nurture their special relationship.
In 1980, Tamara Reps had just finished her junior year at SUNY Potsdam, where she was at the Crane School of Music, majoring in music education and violin.
"There was a tiny shul in Potsdam Cong. Beth El, whose rabbi had just passed away," she explains, "so I ended up involved in a temple where every member pitched in to make it function." She volunteered to teach folkdancing and Jewish music, and also became principal of the religious school. "All this at the age of ‘0," she says. "This made my Judaism much more relevant and alive for me."
Barry and Tamara Freeman are pictured on their wedding day and celebrating Chanukah with daughters Anne and Rachel and Max the cat.
Barry Freeman, who had graduated from the University of Vermont and
gotten his MBA from the Baruch Graduate School of City University, was working at the time as a marketing manager for Best Foods in Englewood Cliffs.
"My best friend from grade school lived in Potsdam," he says, "and when his daughter was having her bat mitzvah, he made me promise to attend. I was extremely busy at work, but out of loyalty, I decided to make the drive so I scheduled a business meeting in Albany the day before to help make the seven-and-a-half hour drive more manageable."
Barry got to the synagogue late. "Potsdam is way the heck up there," he notes, and as he entered the sanctuary, there on the bimah was "a lovely young woman conducting the service, along with the bat mitzvah girl."
Barry was intrigued, and made sure to introduce himself to the young woman during the festivities, which was the gala of all galas for Potsdam. "They even bused in bagels and lox from Syracuse," he jokingly recalls.
Barry offered Tamara a glass of wine, and they started talking. That one conversation led to a summer of dating. "Potsdam is so close to Canada that I would fly into Montreal and rent a car," Barry explains. "I crossed the border so often, one of the guards thought I must be a drug dealer and searched my rental car."
The couple found themselves in an intense long-distance relationship that somehow managed to work with Barry’s trips north, and Tamara getting to see him whenever she visited her family home in White Plains.
After she graduated, Tamara began teaching music to inner-city children at a school in Poughkeepsie, and that December she and Barry got engaged.
Barry attended the school’s end-of-the-year concert, which Tamara had directed. When it was over the principal took the stage. "We are pleased announce that Miss Tamara Reps, our wonderful music teacher, will be getting married next month," he said. "But sadly, tomorrow she will be moving to New Jersey where her fianc? lives."
"Then the principal pointed me out," Barry says with a chuckle, "and the whole school started booing at me."
The couple were married on July 11, 198′. "I chose that date because it was my birthday," Tamara confesses, "and because I figured it would be easy for Barry to remember 7/11." She grins. "So far it’s worked."
The couple settled in Upper Saddle River and had a daughter, Anne. Five years later, after the birth of their second daughter, Rachel, they bought a larger house in Saddle River, where they live today. Anne, now ”, is working toward a dual degree in human services and in American Sign Language. College student Rachel, ‘0, is studying philosophy and religion.
The Freemans are active in Temple Israel in Ridgewood, and Barry, with his background in marketing and advertising, is a member of the synagogue’s marketing committee.
For ‘0 years, he worked at Best Foods, Lipton, and Unilever, while also serving as an adjunct professor at Pace University. Then, 18 years ago, he was offered a chance for a tenured position at Bergen Community College. "It was a wonderful change," he says now. After joining BCC full-time, he earned his doctor of education degree from Columbia.
Tamara has happily been teaching instrumental music in the Ridgewood schools since 198′ and recently became an adjunct professor of music at BCC. As part of her doctoral dissertation at Rutgers, she researched the music of the Holocaust, and now includes it in her curriculum, as well as lecturing extensively about it.
"Barry and I support each other in everything," she says. "And that includes our educational goals. We work hard on a loving marriage . . . to pursue our dreams and reach our full potential."
"It’s so basic and simple," Barry adds. "We have total honesty and respect for each other, and always work as a team with each other, and with our two daughters."
Nancy Butler is the author of 1′ Regency romances, three nonfiction titles (including "The Quotable Lover," Lyons Press), and three novellas, and has twice won the prestigious RITA from the Romance Writers of America.
Did you and your bashert Yiddish for "intended" meet in an interesting or unusual way? Do you have a love story to tell? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, and your story may be included in this column.