The bashert angel

The bashert angel

Some couples are truly fated to be together, yet it might take a journey of three decades before their hands — and hearts — entwine. Laura Berman Osinoff grew up in Bergen County; so did Steven Morey Greenberg. As a teen during the 1960s Laura attended Young Judaea events in Fort Lee and Israeli folk dancing; so did Steve. "We probably even danced together once or twice," Laura muses. "But for both of us, clearly the timing wasn’t right."

They each moved on with their separate lives, and when Laura went off to Ithaca College, she vowed to her mother, "I am never coming back to live in New Jersey."

Laura Osinoff and Steven Greenberg

She received graduate degrees in social work and psychoanalysis from Hunter’s Post Graduate Center for Mental Health and began a private practice in New York City. Years passed, she married and stayed involved in community work, eventually becoming executive deputy director of a mental health clinic in the city.

In ‘004, after her marriage ended, Laura decided to try JDate to get back into the social swing. She was by then a confirmed Manhattanite, but a friend advised her to "go outside your area code" to look for dates. It paid off — one of the first men to respond was Steve Greenberg, who lived in Bergenfield.

Steve, a lawyer who attended Syracuse University, got his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Never married, he had been meeting women through Jdate, without making any lasting connections.

"I kept thinking of the traditional story," he explains, "that 40 days before a baby is born, an angel calls out the name of his or her bashert." So he remained optimistic.

"When we first spoke on the phone," Laura recalls, "it was such a fluid, seamless conversation. We discovered we were both concerned over geriatric issues, I, through my clinic, and Steve, with his work in senior community service. I knew right away he was a caring man."

They also both collected antiques and had an abiding love for Bermuda.

When he suggested meeting in a New York restaurant, Laura offered to make the arrangements. "What?" Steve shot back, "You think a Jersey guy can’t make a reservation?"

"It was a brilliant first date," Laura says. "He whisked me in a taxi to a mystery destination, and we ended up at the St. Regis for champagne cocktails and then went downtown for dinner at Peryali. It was one of those glittering ‘Emerald City’ nights in New York, when everything seems magical."

At one point, as Laura and Steve walked together, their hands met and entwined. Laura was stunned. "How could a stranger’s hand feel like I’d been holding it all my life?"

Earlier in the evening, the couple had drifted into a garden shop, where Laura found a heart-shaped garden tool. "I thought to myself," she says, "if I fall in love with this man, I’ll come back and buy this for him."

Steve was thinking along similar lines. "I knew right away, maybe even during our first phone call, that Laura was the one for me."

On their second date, they took a drive along the Palisades, and when Laura mentioned she was hungry, Steve had an inspiration. He knew that Laura was the one woman who would appreciate the destination he had in mind — the caf? at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh.

"First he walked me through the facility," she explains. "He’s their vice president, and his mother’s family had been involved in the home since its founding in the early 1900s. And then we had lunch beside the duck pond — another magical moment."

Dating soon led to a serious relationship, and Steve decided to propose in July. He says, "We’d planned a trip to Bermuda, and I wanted to ask her there. I had my mother’s engagement ring in a box and was determined to keep it in my pocket until the right moment arose."

At dinner their first night out, with calypso music playing, he asked Laura to pick the most romantic spot on the island. "Right here," she said.

"So that was that," Steve says with a smile. "I had my cue."

"I think I always knew we would marry," Laura says, "My head might not have known, but I recognized it through my heart."

The couple will be wed this December at the Jewish Home — where Laura’s father is now a resident — with a ceremony in the synagogue there and a tent reception right beside the duck pond.

They believe that in addition to their love for each other, their shared commitment to the community will always bind them together. They are both members of the Jewish Center of Teaneck; Steve, a past president of the center, is vice president of the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey. Laura will remain involved with her practice, the clinic, and her volunteer work in New York, even though she is — in spite of her youthful vow — moving back to New Jersey.

She smiles at the notion of again being a Jersey girl. "Of course I want to be where Steve is."

"Every day since we met has been wonderful," Steve says. "Laura sparkles like a diamond, inside and out." He adds, "I know now that my bashert angel called out Laura’s name."

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