Stephanie Nissani and Brian Gomez were married on May 19, in the final hours of Lag B’Omer. Initially, though, when the bride first met her future groom almost three years ago, she wasn’t sure he was the man she would marry. Although she was attracted to him, she wasn’t particularly eager to get married.
At the time, Nissani was focused on finishing her education and possibly starting a business of her own. What dating she did, she found boring.
“I’m not the type that dates and has boyfriends all the time. You know, I just liked my single life. And I always imagined myself being very successful and single with, you know, my own company,” she recalled.
Still, Nissani would occasionally browse through profiles on Jewish dating sites like JDate and JShuffle. It was during one of those moments of idle searching that the 33-year-old journalist and former staffer at the Atlanta Jewish Times came upon the profile for Brian Gomez, a 37-year-old Jewish real estate executive who had recently been divorced after a brief marriage.
Gomez didn’t seem to quite fit the “blueprint” Nissani had envisioned for a husband. Although they dated several times toward the end of 2019, initially, she had some concerns.
“You know, it was the little things that turned me off,” Nissani recalled. “I remember speaking to my best friend, actually, and I said, ‘he’s too calm.’ It’s almost like he’s got something really difficult inside him that’s fighting to get out. I didn’t realize then that that’s not really so. He’s just a quiet person with good manners that takes his time to observe others.”
Nissani also wasn’t sure what to make of Gomez quickly deciding that she was the one for him. The fact that he had just ended a brief marriage made her think that he was rushing into another relationship that neither of them was quite sure they were ready for.
“When he met me, he said, ‘Wow, I didn’t think I could meet the love of my life so fast after my divorce. I’m truly blessed.’ Those were more or less his exact words,” Nissani said. “‘You’re mine,’ he said, ‘I know you and I were meant to be together.’ Brian is very intuitive. Back then, though, I didn’t really know that. After a month, I broke his heart. He took my number off his cell phone and we didn’t see each other for over nine months.”
Nissani was living in Atlanta with her mother, Isabelle, when COVID struck early in 2020. Isabelle, who was fearful of coming down with the virus, kept her close to home. Even though her dating life ground to a halt during those months of isolation, Nissani couldn’t forget the strong, quiet, confident man whom she had met in the fall. She picked up the phone one day and, after some hesitation, called him. It was the start of a virtual courtship that, due to the pandemic, took place without the future spouses ever meeting.
“We spoke on the phone for an entire month without seeing each other,” Nissani remembers. “It made me miss him. And he listened to me. He would sit there on the phone and really listen. I mean, we’d talk on the phone for two hours, sometimes three. We’d fall asleep talking on the phone. That’s how great it was the second time.”
When the pair finally met at Gomez’s home in Morningside, he cooked what Nissani describes as the best meal ever, on what she recalls as one of her best evenings ever. In the months they had spent apart, Nissani had come to appreciate the relationship that was, as her husband had predicted initially, meant to be.
“It was almost like G-d was watching over the food,” she said, “to make sure that that meal was perfect. Because on that night we kissed and I had butterflies in my stomach for the first time. I mean, I fell in love with him the second time. The first time I knew that there was something there, that he was a good guy and he’s Jewish, because Judaism is very important for me.”
In keeping with Jewish tradition, the couple was married on May 19th, during the final hours of Lag B’Omer — the only day during the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot when Orthodox practice permits joyful celebrations, such as weddings.
Although both families descend from Sephardi and Mizrachi Jews, the celebration at The Estate by Legendary Events — a historic home that at one time had been a popular Atlanta restaurant and is now a special event facility — was essentially an outdoor Ashkenazic ritual. Rabbi Mendy Gurary, the Chabad rabbi from the Israel Center, officiated along with Rabbi Shlomo Sharfstein, from Chabad of Downtown Universities, which serves Georgia State University and Georgia Tech.
For their first dance, the couple chose “From This Moment On” by Shania Twain. For her dance with her father, Simon, whose family hails from Afghanistan and who now lives in Zambia, Nissani chose an Israeli melody that translates to “To Sing With You.”
It was, she recalls, beautifully appropriate for the beginning of a marriage that has brought so much spiritual harmony to her life and the fulfillment of a special prayer she spoke when she first realized she was at the beginning of a lifelong journey with her new husband.
“I prayed to G- to send me someone magnificent, like Brian, and my promise to G-d was that I will be faithful and devote my entire life to him and love him and care for him. I put that on Facebook recently, too, because I had to utter that to Brian as well. It was my way of saying I will always be there for him as we build our Jewish home together.”
- Stephanie Nissani
- Bryan Gomez
- Chabad Israel Center
- Chabad at Georgia Tech and Georgia State University
- Simon Nissani
- The Estate by Legendary Events
- Rabbi Mendy Gurady
- Rabbi Shalom Sharfstein
- Bob Bahr
- Simcha Spotlight
- real estate
- Lag B'Omer
- Rabbi Mendy Gurary
- Rabbi Shlomo Sharfstein
- Chabad of Downtown Universities