Love: Jewish Style
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Love: Jewish Style

Nine well-known Atlanta couples share the secrets to a happy marriage after 30 to 70 years together.

Marcia Caller Jaffe

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Candy and Steve Berman dancing together at their wedding in 1975.
Candy and Steve Berman dancing together at their wedding in 1975.

For our Jewish Love and Singles issue, we asked nine very devoted and well-known Atlanta couples to share with us how they met and their secrets for a happy marriage after 30 to 70 years together. Compiling their responses was somewhere between a labor of love and a joyful experience.        

Every couple readily agreed to be featured and reminisce about their very special courtship and wedding. With almost 500 collective years of marriage between them, these couples met without the benefit of JSwipe, JDate, Facebook, email, or photoshop (shedding off pounds). They met through friends or social gatherings.

The husbands, especially, took the opportunity to wax sentimentally about how they found, wooed, and won the prize – their brides – many of whom were teenagers when they met. At least half of those interviewed have been married 50 to 60 years.

Universally they spoke of compromise and respect – always with a sense of humor. Nonagenarian Arthur Harris sent his photo with the tagline “Sydell and Zombie” as he exited the chuppah (wedding canopy) with a somber look. Shirley Reisman recalled her wedding ending on a harried note as the missing photographer was found shicker (intoxicated), passed out in his car,  courtesy of the wedding’s open bar. Perry Brickman remembers the day in 1950 the couple met when he was wearing a fake leopard vest at which Shirley poked fun.

The message herein is that these couples renew the belief that love “is as perennial as the grass” (Desiderata) if you nurture it a bit with sunlight and kindness.

Sydell and Arthur Harris pictured at their wedding in 1949.

69 Years

Sydell and Arthur Harris

Wedding: The Bronx, NY, 1949

How we met …

Sydell: I was a young girl of 15. Arthur was 16 when a mutual friend introduced us. He chased me down the street and washed my face in the snow. Later he convinced me to go for hot chocolate; and the rest is history.

Secret to happy marriage …

Sydell: Trust and kindness.

Arthur: Having a handsome husband (laughing).

Shirley and Donald Reisman pictured at their wedding in 1951.

67 Years

Shirley and Donald Reisman

Wedding: Dublin, GA, 1951

How we met …

Shirley: I was at UGA and Donald was at Emory. He came to Athens to look for girls.

Secret to happy marriage …

Shirley: Respect and being close friends.

Donald: Give and take.

Sherry and Harry Maziar pictured at their wedding in 1954.

64 Years

Sherry and Harry Maziar

Wedding: Atlanta (The Progressive Club), 1954

How we met …

Harry: We both grew up on Lanier Boulevard in Virginia Highland and attended Grady High School. Sherry gave me a 16th birthday party and I took Sherry to her confirmation dance. High school sweethearts that lasted.

Secret to happy marriage …

Harry: It’s not rocket science… it’s much more complicated than that! It’s about respecting, liking, loving and laughing every day.

Sherry: Compromise with a smile… kindness, appreciation and love.

Shirley and Perry Brickman at their wedding in 1955.

63 Years

Shirley and Perry Brickman

Wedding: Atlanta (The Progressive Club), 1955

How we met …

Perry: In 1950, when Emory was not “coed,” I was at an AEPi fraternity tag football game when I spotted Shirley, the sweetheart of the high school boy’s youth group, who was known as the “belle of the ball,” and I was intimidated.

Face-to-face, I was speechless. She wasn’t. “Where did you get that vest?” she asked. Actually, it was a fake leopard vest my mother had selected for my college wardrobe. “My uncle got it on a recent safari to Africa,” I replied. Divine intervention had taken over: 63 years ago we exchanged vows.

Secret to happy marriage …

Shirley: The secret to a happy marriage is always putting the other one first.

Esther and Michael Levine at their wedding in 1962.

56 Years

Esther and Michael Levine

Wedding: Columbus, GA, 1962   

How we met …

Esther: We both attended a wedding in Worcester, Mass., where Mike had introduced the bride and groom to each other.  I knew the groom and was attending Brandeis University.  A cousin made sure we were sitting next to each other at dinner.  Mike was captivated by my smile, charming Southern ways and my cleavage (laughing).

I was attracted to his good looks, intellect and enthusiasm for exploring and learning new things.  We were married less than a year later.

Secret to happy marriage …

Mike: Choosing well!  We have grown together as we discovered and developed new interests together as the decades have gone by.

Esther: The secret to a happy marriage is respect, friendship and compromise, with some sex mixed in.

Barbara and Rabbi Alvin Sugarman pictured at their 1965 wedding.

53 Years

Barbara and Rabbi Alvin Sugarman

Wedding: Jackson, MS, 1965

How we met …

Barbara: On my first visit to Atlanta, we were fixed up on a blind date (12/27/64), by my cousin.  After dinner and dancing, midnight coffee, we stayed up all night talking in Shirley’s living room. We both knew that night…and were married 4 ½ months later. Fifty-three years have passed. Still in love, having fun, and feeling very blessed.

Secret to happy marriage …

They both agree:

Laugh a lot, support and be there for each other.

The old adage: Celebrate what matters, forget what doesn’t.

Drs. Marianne and Steve Garber embrace at their 1972 wedding.

46 Years

Drs. Marianne and Steve Garber

Wedding: Atlanta, 1972

How we met …

Marianne: I was dating someone else while attending Washington University in St Louis.  A family friend said, “You have to meet this guy, Steve, who’s driving up from Tallahassee…”

Secret to happy marriage …

Marianne: being great friends, laughing a lot and knowing you can be with the person for the rest of your life. Then you have to make it happen.

Steve: Shared interests, doing activities, love laughing together through the ups and downs of life.

Candy and Steve Berman dancing together at their wedding in 1975.

43 Years

Candy and Steve Berman

Wedding: Birmingham, AL, 1975

How we met …

Candy: “I was working at Neiman Marcus (costume jewelry) and another associate(scarves) gave Steve my name and number. Little did I know that he had a list of women to meet. Eventually I got to the top of the list!”

Secret to happy marriage …

Candy: Respecting your partner’s independence.

Steve: Always talking and communicating.

Lisa and Sam Olens pictured at their wedding in 1985.

33 Years

Lisa and Sam Olens

Wedding: St. Louis, MO, 1985

How we met …

Sam: Upon Lisa’s graduation from Duke University, she moved in to the apartment above one of my friends at law school.

Secret to happy marriage …

Lisa: Don’t sweat the small stuff.  It is better to be kind than right. Each partner must be supportive while maintaining their independence.  Sharing common values.

Sam: Marrying a partner with amazing tolerance and patience. Appreciating that all that can be expected of us is to try our best.


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