I Took a Chance
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I Took a Chance

Most bold decisions are not life-altering; for four Atlantans, however, big leaps in love and location were well worth the risk.

Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.

Omer Shemtov, Automotive technician

Omer Shemtov was determined to stay in the United States.

Twenty years ago, I got on a plane in Israel and came to the United States. It was exciting, but what was my bigger plan? Was I a tourist? An immigrant? A student? Tourist or student options were too costly. I wanted to take a chance, but I’m not a gambler! However, with a little help from a good friend, within a few weeks I could move around independently. I found a low-paying job, got a driver’s license, and finally felt more in control.

I hadn’t come just to work! I didn’t want to go back before exploring my options, and I needed to improve my English. I resolved my dilemma by committing myself to furthering my vocational education and improving my English. I enrolled in ESL classes. The more I learned about this country, the more I wanted to stay. Also, this is the world center of everything with a motor and wheels, where people race anything from a lawn mower to big trucks. I’m an auto technician and really appreciate that there are lots of motorheads like me. I am still fascinated with American culture, its diversity, and countless interesting people I meet every day.

Marc Miller, Realtor

When I was in graduate school, Pamela Brill’s roommate, a friend of mine, invited me to Shabbat dinner at their apartment on 85th Street in Manhattan, and that’s where I met Pamela. I thought she was beautiful, intelligent, and funny. However, she also had a boyfriend. A few months later, I heard that she had broken up with that guy, and I thought, “I’m going to take a chance and call her.”

But before I had an opportunity to take that chance, we bumped into each other while waiting in line at Dougie’s, a popular New York restaurant. We chatted, and she invited me to her apartment for another Shabbat meal.

A few days later, we went on our first date to a Hare Krishna concert in Central Park. We were engaged within two months and married less than one year from our first date. As they say, the rest is history!

Marc and Pamela Brill Miller, married 21 years thanks to her mother’s advice and perfect timing.

Pamela Brill Miller, Pediatric nurse practitioner

Living single on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the late ’90s was a blast most of the time. But being single and dating wasn’t for the weary. After one particularly heinous breakup, I complained to my mother in Atlanta that I was tired of it all.

She said, “Pammy, invite friends for Shabbat lunch.” I rolled my eyes and continued to wallow in self-pity. That very night, I bumped into Marc, who had once come to my apartment for Shabbat dinner. He was a Columbia grad student getting his degree in Yiddish literature, the first person I met who spoke Yiddish and was under 65. Marc wore overalls to dinner, and I thought, this guy is a character.

At this unexpected meeting, we chatted. Heeding my mother’s advice, I took a chance and blurted out, “I’m making Shabbat lunch this week. Come!” He immediately agreed.

My friends, Marc, and I vibed well together that Shabbat. A few days later, Marc called, asking if I had plans for the weekend. I mentioned a concert in Central Park by what I assumed was a cult leader with musical ability, and Marc immediately said that he’d love to go. We walked to Central Park and sat watching throngs of women, in a trance-like state and gauzy dresses, dancing around the leader/singer. We noted how nutty it all seemed and laughed. A lot. Marc was warm, open, and funny.

Walking back, Marc turned to me, “I have no interest in being friends with you. I want to date you.” Instead of dramatic relationships, break-ups and game-playing, he was honest and real. He wasn’t wasting time, and I was intrigued.
Ten weeks later, we got engaged. Twenty-one years later, we have three children, navigate life together with laughter, great music and a deep love that exists because I listened to my mother and took a chance.

For Barbara Pierce, a random drive through Atlanta led to a new home.

Barbara Rosefelt Pierce, Library volunteer and avid reader

When my husband and I decided to take a chance and leave the Upper West Side of Manhattan, we surprised our friends by moving to Atlanta, where my husband had a job offer. At the age of 50, I found myself unemployed and unable to drive. I’d never taken driving lessons.

We chanced upon a place to live in a city we didn’t know. That’s how we ended up in Stone Mountain, which was workable, except that a bigger challenge was locating a bus stop so I could leave to look for a job. Could I learn to drive and overcome my fear and dread that one day I would have to parallel park?

I maintained my sanity during driving lessons and job-hunting because I still received New York State unemployment benefits, blessedly superior to Georgia’s. I did find a good job, but even today deal with my I-285 phobia by using back roads. Once I got my license, I drove around to find a more in-town home. One evening, I passed the old Loehmann’s Plaza, and the word “Loehmann’s” triggered a major leap of faith. This had to be the neighborhood for me! A couple of weeks later, we moved into a condo within walking distance.

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