How to buy the best diamond wedding ring for your buck

When Jeremy Ziskind of Pico-Robertson proposed last year to his then-girlfriend, Allyson Marcus, he had a basic idea of what kind of engagement ring he would give his future wife.

“Allyson told me pretty early on in our relationship that she loved the idea of a heart-shaped ring,” he said. “So I knew that’s what I wanted to get.”

Relying on a tip from a friend, Ziskind searched for rings on

The ring’s the thing: Ex-Steeler Randy ‘The Rabbi’ Grossman recalls glory days

For ex-Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Randy Grossman, being nicknamed “The Rabbi” was inevitable.

“The fellow who pretty much nicknamed everyone was Dwight White, who recently passed away,” Grossman said of the outstanding lineman from the Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s. “He and I were locker neighbors and, yeah, what are you gonna call a white kid from Philadelphia who’s Jewish? Sparky?”

“The Rabbi” would ascend the championship bimah four times in his eight years playing for the Steelers’ dynasty. His four Super Bowl rings are the most among any Jewish player.

As his old club prepared to take on the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV in Dallas on Sunday, Grossman reminisced about his time with the Steelers and talked about his Jewishness and the absence of anti-Semitism he encountered in his career.

Among his on-field memories is catching a short touchdown pass from Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw in the 21-17 victory over the Cowboys in Super Bowl X 36 years ago.

“It’s exciting, but one of the things I try to make people realize is that whatever level you’re at when you’re playing in a championship game—whether it’s in high school or college or professionally—it is the most exciting thing that could happen,” Grossman, 59, said in a telephone interview from his home in Pittsburgh. “Doing something great in high school wasn’t any less exciting than doing something as a professional.”

Grossman had come to the Steelers as an undrafted free agent following a stellar career at his hometown Temple University, where he made third-team All-America from The Associated Press.

“If you didn’t get drafted, it was pretty much of a long shot,” he said.

But the long-shot stuck, and Grossman caught 119 passes in 118 regular season games for 1,514 yards—a 12.7 yard-per-reception average—and five touchdowns.

His four Super Bowl rings—won in 1974, ’75, ’78 and ’79—edge offensive lineman Harris Barton, who won three (1988, ’89, and ’94) playing for the San Francisco 49ers. Barton’s teammate John Frank won two (1984, ’88).

Other Jews who have the championship jewelry include Bobby Stein, the first Jewish player to appear in a Super Bowl (Kansas City Chiefs, 1970); Lyle Alzado (Oakland Raiders, 1983); Alan “Shlomo” Veingrad (Dallas Cowboys, 1992); and Josh Miller (New England Patriots, 2004).

Grossman, who has worked in the financial services industry for the past 21 years, says he opted for the Steelers because they had moved to the American Football Conference following the merger of the National Football League and the American Football League.

As a receiver, he was entranced by the pass-heavy offense of the AFC—the successor to the aerial circus of the AFL—rather than the grind-it-out rushing attack of the National Football Conference.

“The AFL was where all the throwing action was,” he said. “My favorite teams were the Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers because they threw the ball.”

Grossman says he can recall only one incident of anti-Semitism in his many levels of football, when a player on the field said something derogatory—“and as soon as he said it, from the look on his face, I think he realized how out of line he was.”

Grossman shrugged off the comment.

“In sports—in my era and currently—it really is the great melting pot,” he said. “If you ‘bring game,’ you’re fine. If you’re an imposter, then they’ll run you out regardless of what your religious preferences are or ethnic background is.

“It was obviously different in the ’60s, ’50s, ’40s, but from the time that I’ve been involved, it’s been completely open and purely performance-based acceptance or non-acceptance.”

He recalls Steeler teammate Steve Furness converting to Judaism; Grossman says he played no part in the process.

“His wife was Jewish and that was the primary catalyst for his conversion, for his children,” Grossman said.

Grossman, who was inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1999, described himself as a “Manischewitz Jew.”

“The rabbi at my bar mitzvah commented about me that I wasn’t always inside [the synagogue],” he said, “but they always knew where to find me—outside playing football.”

Unlike today’s multimillionaire stars, Grossman played in an era when having an off-season job was a given.

“Once you were finished playing football, as [ex-Steelers head coach] Chuck Knoll used to say, you got on with your life’s work,” Grossman said. “For a lot of us, our reputations as adults were started here, so a lot of people stayed here and found jobs, went into business, did what they did next.”

Asked to pick the winner of Sunday’s game, Grossman could hardly answer through his laughter.

“The Steelers!” he said.

He won’t be jetting to Dallas, however.

“There are two ways to see a game,” he said. “Obviously one is to go, and you have to go to experience it. But to see it, you watch it on TV or video. So I’m gonna be kicked back and comfortable and watch it at home.”

Israeli organ trafficking ring arrested

Israeli police arrested six men from northern Israel accused of being involved in an organ trafficking ring.

The suspects, including a military brigadier general and two attorneys, were arrested Wednesday, according to reports. The ring allegedly identified potential organ donors through advertisements promising up to $100,000 in exchange for their kidneys. Some were reportedly paid $10,000 and others nothing at all. The transplants took place in Ecuador, Azerbaijan and the Philippines, under substandard medical supervision. Some of the donors are still suffering from medical complications.

Israel outlawed providing organ donors with financial rewards in 2008; all organ transplants are supposed to be carried out through the National Transplant and Organ Donation Center. Israel has been cited as one of the world’s trouble spots when it comes to the illegal organ trade.

The dress, the ring, the registry and the rest

Once upon a time, Teresa Strasser was The Jewish Journal’s award-winning singles columnist. Then she met Daniel. Next week the two will wed. In the series below, Strasser charts her journey from “I will” to “I do.” And we’re sure they’ll live happily ever after . . .

Two months after I met Daniel, we sat on his bed late at night and I said, “If we ever get married, let’s just go to city hall like Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. Big weddings freak me out. I don’t like lots of people staring at me, I don’t like inconveniencing people because it’s ‘my special day,’ and I hate waste. The idea of spending $50,000 on a party is just no-can-do.”

He agreed on all fronts. We had a disgusting conversation about how we are truly soulmates. Recreating any part of that chat would be so cloying you would feel like you just snorted butter cream frosting off a wedding cake. Suffice to say, we were simpatico.

It was easy to talk big before we got engaged this past Valentine’s Day.

It turns out that parents, no matter how groovy and liberal (in my case), don’t love the idea of raising a daughter only to miss out on this rite of passage.

His parents lost their only daughter, Lynn, in a car accident 10 years ago. Could I rob them of this major milestone, after they missed out on so many by losing their child when she was only 30? Did I want to join his family with the clear communication that I’m a selfish badass too cool for a real wedding and, by the way, I’m stealing your son? I couldn’t say, “I don’t” to a communal “I do.”

We settled on a small ceremony, just 15 of us, at a casino chapel in Vegas. That feels right. Monroe and DiMaggio got divorced anyway.

With an actual wedding ceremony in the offing, I was going to have to wear something, and my anxiety about this was manifesting itself in a series of nightmares.

The one time I flipped through a bridal magazine, I saw an article called, “Ten Wedding Dresses Under $900.” Most of my cars have been under $900, and I don’t drive them for one day and convince myself my daughter will drive them again — for one day — in 30 years.

Brides persuade themselves, their tailors, their trainers and their pocketbooks that this must be the best they will ever look in their lives. This moment that is supposed to be about eternal union is more about capturing eternal beauty in a photo that’s going to be mounted in the living room so everyone can silently think, “Man, she used to be a lot thinner.”

What to wear was a small question compared to the larger quandary that was emerging: I wondered how we could include Lynn, Daniel’s sister, into our ceremony.

It’s not like anyone was going to not notice her absence, these big occasions being a time you most miss those who have passed. I was sure it was going to bring back memories of her wedding just a few years before she died. I struggled for a way to invite the sister-in-law I would never meet to her little brother’s wedding. I thought about the smashing of the glass (which they offer in Vegas for a few extra bucks, by the way) and how among myriad explanations for this tradition my favorite has always been that it’s important to remember sadness at the height of personal joy.

When I first started dating Daniel, I caught myself staring at framed pictures of his sister, looking regal and reserved, with Daniel’s eyes and nose. I knew they were very close, but Daniel, being similarly reserved, didn’t talk about her much.

This brings me back to the question of the gown.

Somehow, the idea of me wearing Lynn’s wedding dress came up in conversation. Daniel said his mother still had the gown, sitting in a box in her closet.

I didn’t want his family to be traumatized or freaked out by the idea, but when he ran it by them they were thrilled, and I felt so completely embraced. And that’s how it is that I agreed to wear a dress I had never seen, that was worn more than a decade ago.

When that giant package came in the mail, I wasn’t totally immune to bridal vanity. I said a silent prayer that I would look decent in the dress and that I would have no trouble squeezing into it. Daniel helped me step into his sister’s gown, a perfectly preserved ivory satin confection with a high neckline and two tasteful bows in back. It had dainty satin cuffs at the end of fragile mesh sleeves. Though she was taller, it fit almost perfectly with a pair of heels.

The trend in bridal gowns today is overtly sexy, conjuring images of someone standing behind a velvet rope rather than walking down an aisle.

From the pictures I’ve now seen, the conservative style suited Lynn perfectly, and it fits me somehow too. I might be the most out-of-style bride you will see this June wedding season, or maybe I’ll just look like a fashion renegade, or maybe I just don’t care, because my sister-in-law will be at my wedding in spirit, and satin and silk and bows.

Daniel and I don’t disagree on much, but he insists that wearing the dress was my idea. He’s wrong: I have a very clear memory of him asking me to wear her dress. We have joke fights about this all the time, but the truth is this: If it wasn’t his idea and it wasn’t mine, maybe it was hers.

Wedding Bell Oops!

Last time I saw Barry, he was dressed as an egg at a Purim party, so I was excited to run into him last month at a birthday party.

This time, for better or worse, he was wearing pants.

“Barry, what’s up? I haven’t seen you in forever. How’s life? How’s work? Ohmygosh, how was your wedding?”

“The wedding? Yeah, um, that whole wedding thing didn’t happen exactly the way I thought it would. Mostly because it didn’t happen at all. She called it off three weeks before the ceremony.”

Doctors at Cedars-Sinai are still trying to remove my high heel from my mouth.

I should have known better than to ask. I should have learned from Greg. Or Shannon. Or the nine — yes nine — other people I know who have called off their weddings. I should get them together to start a support group or form a minyan. Canceling a wedding has become that common these days. Just because a couple gets engaged, doesn’t mean that they’ll get married. It just means they’ve registered at Macy’s.

It no longer surprises me when couples don’t make it to the chuppah on time. Or at all. Which is why I keep the tags on my new cocktail dress and write “save the date” in pencil. I don’t run to reserve a hotel room in the “Rosen-Levy” block or pound the pavement for a “plus guest.” It would be rude for me to bring a date to the big event when the groom no longer has one. And yes, it always seems to be the groom who stands alone and the woman who says, “I don’t.” I mentioned this runaway-bride phenomenon to my current guy, Scott, over dinner at Denny’s last week.

“That’s because guys think about marriage a lot more than women do — we’re the ones who have to ask,” he explained. “And we don’t ask ’til we’re absolutely sure. Do you know how hard it is for a guy to pop the question? Do you know how long it takes for us to think we might possibly be ready to even start thinking about it?”

I’m beginning to get some idea.

Scott’s right, though. We’re talking about men — they spend a month choosing who to draft onto their fantasy football team. So they’re going to do a lot of soul searching and thinking — and drinking — before they decide whom they want to marry. Then they have to get up the courage to do a little thing called propose. All the girl has to do is say yes.

And we always do.

‘Cuz every girl wants to be a bride. Maybe that’s the problem. Girls fantasize about their wedding, not their marriage. I doubt my friends know if they’re wearing their hair up or down for their first week as a Mrs., but they know where every tress will be on the big day. They’re not cruising the newsstand for InStyle Marriage, but they wait by the mailbox for Modern Bride.

That’s why when some girls realize there’s life after honeymoon, that wedding gets canceled faster than a new fall sitcom dud.

Dating, proposal, shiny ring, big dress, bigger hair, saying “I do.” That’s the order. That’s how it’s supposed to happen. That’s the flow chart. So girls go with the flow. But you can’t go with the flow when a relationship gets this serious, ladies. Preseason dating is over.

Perhaps it’s just too easy for a woman to change her mind after she’s said yes. Maybe we should be required to back up our answer with a contract or a guarantee. Maybe a pinky swear. Or the bride should put her money where her heart is. Reception halls ask for a nonrefundable deposit — why shouldn’t the groom?

I’ve never been engaged, so I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to walk in a bride’s Vera Wang shoes. I don’t know how people who aren’t right for each other continue dating to the point of engagement. I don’t know if they failed to recognize their doubts or just chose to ignore them. I don’t know how much it hurts to call off a wedding. I don’t know when saying “I do” became so last season.

I do know it’s a troubling pattern, though, especially because it’s affecting my love life.

Canceled weddings are not good for us ladies-in-waiting. The worst thing about this broken engagement trend, besides the $50 I waste on each engagement gift, is the single-man snowball effect.

When a guy gets dumped by his fiance, his friends start to doubt their own relationships. The more guys entertain these doubts, the longer they wait to propose. The longer guys wait, the fewer girls who are getting engaged. What I’m saying is: It’s my friend Barry’s ex-fiance’s fault that I’m still single.

Actually, that’s not what I’m saying — it’s not entirely about me. A woman should not wed a man she doesn’t want to marry. That would be wrong. But a woman should only get engaged to a man she does want to marry.

Let’s start with the very word: engagement. It means commitment. It implies true love. There should be no take-backs. He didn’t give you his letterman’s jacket, his fraternity pin or a mix tape. He gave you a diamond engagement ring. He gave you his heart.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I truly believe an accepted proposal should lead to a puffy white veil, Shevah Brachot, a broken glass and a lifetime together.

So when that special someone — the right someone, not the maybe someone — proposes, I’ll say yes, and I’ll mean it.

Final answer.

Because I know that when a guy does get down on one knee, he’s not asking “Will you wedding me?”

Carin Davis is a freelance writer and can be reached at