Young love, true love


September 05, 1999|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

They fell in love when they were high-school students at Beth Tfiloh School in Pikesville. And Dana Lande and Avi Meyerstein say they knew after dating just six months that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.

"Our parents were a little concerned that we had picked our lifelong partner in a small Jewish day school," Avi recalls as he and Dana chuckle.

So at their parents' request, the couple, who both grew up in Pikesville, attended different colleges. Avi chose Columbia University in New York City. Dana went to Barnard College -- across the street. While spending their junior year in college in Jerusalem, Dana and Avi got engaged.

After graduating this past May, Dana began looking for a museum research position that would use her degrees in European and Jewish history. Avi, who earned a political science degree, began his first year in law school at Georgetown University last month.

As they began planning for their careers, the couple also were preparing to marry. It could have been a hectic time, but they found it easy. It helped that, according to Dana, they "have never gone more than a day without speaking to each other, even when we were mad."

On Aug. 8, Dana, 21, and Avi, 22, were married in a Modern Orthodox Jewish ceremony at the Marriott hotel in Hunt Valley. The festivities began with the couple in separate areas of the hotel, receiving guests.

Escorted by her mother, Nancy Lande, and Avi's mother, Israela Meyerstein, Dana smiled shyly as the women in the wedding party made their way through a gantlet of happy guests. The band played a boisterous tune as Dana took her rightful seat on the white wicker "throne," set upon a dais decorated especially for kabbalat panim, or greeting the bride.

Dana's six bridesmaids -- including her sister Michelle, who served as her maid of honor -- crowded in behind her. Guests took turns congratulating the bride, the mothers and Dana's grandmothers.

At the opposite end of the hotel, Avi played host at the chatan's tisch, or groom's table. Flanked by his father, Rabbi Michael Meyerstein, and Dana's father, Paul Lande, Avi took much good-natured ribbing. One of his groomsmen passed around a humorous photo of Avi as a toddler. Others -- including his brothers Ariel and Shaanan -- shared funny stories. The crowd smiled and laughed, as well as chanted and sang congratulations and best wishes in Hebrew.

Israela Meyerstein and Nancy Lande joined the festivities at the men's end and together broke a plate. The custom signified both the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem as well as the fact that the plate -- shattered into many pieces -- could not be returned to its prior state and neither could Dana and Avi. "May they live in good health together all the days of their lives," said Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg.

Dancing, clapping and singing, Avi and the guests at the tisch were led to Dana by the same band that had been serenading her. The 250 guests crowded close to see the badeken, or veiling of the bride.

But before he climbed the steps to Dana's throne to do the honors, Avi stopped at a nearby table to sign the ketubah, or marriage contract. Dana's eyes welled with tears as she watched him sign the document. When he reached her, they shared a kiss as the guests clapped and sang. Dana smiled and her eyes crinkled with laughter as Avi lowered the blusher of her bridal veil over her face.

But her face became solemn when first Avi's father and then her own father climbed the steps to the dais to offer their blessings to her.

Dana and Avi were married under a white wedding canopy. They drank from the same cup of wine, exchanged rings and vows, and received the sheva brachot, or seven blessings. Each blessing was recited or sung by a specially selected guest or guests.

After the blessings, Dana and Avi drank from the cup of wine once more -- sharing it as they will share the rest of their lives.

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