September 16, 2019

A Very Special Marriage

“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone’…”
—Genesis 2:18

There’s a long tradition of June weddings but last weekend there was an extra-special marriage of two Jewish 20-something adults very much in love.  In the photos, we see a beautiful bride in her stunning white gown while the groom wore a new black hat and was glowing with happiness. Joined together by a rabbi under a beautiful outdoor chuppah while family members and friends looked on, Shlomo Myers and Danielle Magady became husband and wife. All very nice, but what’s the big deal?

The big deal is that both Shlomo and Danielle have Down’s syndrome, and historically, adults with these types of disabilities have been strongly discouraged from having any type of romantic relationship, and even less so, to become married. But with two sets of strong, loving parents and support by special needs Jewish organizations, the married couple is set to create a Jewish home that is filled with warmth, friends and love.

Danielle is from Los Angeles, and Shlomo, from Chicago; they met through a traditional Orthodox matchmaker two years ago and got engaged last October. I was privileged today to attend a Sheva Brachot luncheon (traditional party for the new couple held each day of the first week following the wedding) hosted by ETTA at YULA Girls School, which included a video of the couple’s engagement and wedding, with a special taped musical greeting from younger cousins in Israel.

ETTA was founded in 1993 in Los Angeles to help people with developmental disabilities live full, active and inclusive lives in the community and it is their staff who will provide help with the couple’s everyday life: cooking, shopping, transportation, appointments and more, with one-to-one coaches through ETTA’s Supported Living Skills service.

During the summer, ETTA runs a day camp for Jewish teens and young adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, and those campers and their volunteers were included in the Sheva Brachot celebration. And there’s another connection: last summer, Danielle and Shlomo both worked at ETTA’s summer day camp program as assistant counselors.

In Chicago, Shlomo was active in the local Yachad chapter and NCSY, both affiliated with the Orthodox Union, while Danielle has been active with ETTA and Yachad in Los Angeles, and both attended Jewish day schools. They will live in the Pico-Robertson area, a few blocks away from family and friends. Danielle works at Yeshiva Aharon Yaakov Ohr Eliyahu Academy as a pre-school aide and Shlomo will be working at Maimonides as a physical education assistant.

Just like any other young married couple, Danielle and Shlomo will have both good times and bad times together, but seeing them today was incredibly heartwarming and inspiring.

As Shlomo said in their video, getting married to Danielle is “like a dream come true for me.”

Mazel Tov!