The Greek dramatist Aeschylus is famously quoted as saying, “Marriage is a three-ring circus: engagement ring, wedding ring and suffering.” However, from ancient times to today, people keep falling in love and pledging to spend their lives together, regardless of the challenges married couples face. In celebration of marriage here are three couples, each with their own special stories.
Judy and Marty Solomon
It was the summer of 1962, and a chance meeting changed Judy Kurzer’s world forever. Her future husband, Marty Solomon, did not show up on a white horse, rather in a 1962 burgundy- red Oldsmobile Starfire convertible.“Marty and my cousin ‘Kooney’ stopped in Phoenix to visit his sister and her family, who had just moved to Phoenix,” says Judy. “One Sunday morning when I was just home from a BBG all-night party, I had just fallen asleep when my 6-year-old sister woke me up with, ‘Judy, Mom says you have to get up! Our cousin is here from New York with his friend, and they are real creeps!’ ” It was perhaps not the introduction Marty wished for, but lucky for him Judy did not feel the same as her little sister and saw Marty every day of the week he was in Phoenix. After Marty and Kooney visited Las Vegas and California they returned to Phoenix for another week.
“It was just like a teen romance in the movies,” says Judy, noting that after he returned home they wrote each other often. “He told me his folks wanted to come to Phoenix at Christmas time to see his sister, Harriet Goldhagen, and her family, and he was planning to come out with them. In his next letter, he said they would not be able to make it at that time, but he was going to drive out here with another friend! In his next letter he said he was moving to Phoenix,” Judy exclaims. They married when Judy was almost 19, two days after she graduated from dental-assistant school so she could help support 20-year-old Marty while he attended law school. They continued working hard so they could accomplish their dreams of having a family. After being married for 10 years, they adopted a beautiful baby girl in 1974.
“As it turned out our baby, Ilana Michelle, had a genetic disease that caused her to be deaf, developmentally delayed and with a seizure disorder. We didn’t get her full diagnosis until she was 18 months old. Raising her was, to put it mildly, extremely challenging,” Judy says. When Ilana was 11, they found a school where she could excel – ADTEC, a program for multi- challenged children at the AZ School for the Deaf and Blind in Tucson. Ilana’s sign language grew tremendously and she learned living skills. More than a decade later, the Solomon’s adopted another baby, Danielle Rose.
Tragically Ilana died when Danielle Rose was a freshman in high school. The family was devastated, but pulled together helping one another cope. “Now, 12 years later, we are all doing well. Dani is in Israel at IDC getting her master’s degree in Counter Terrorism and Homeland Security. And this June we will be married 50 years. Where did the time go?” Judy wonders.
Leslie and David Caplan
Leslie and David Caplan have been married for more than 20 years. They met at work in Annapolis, MD. While they had many things in common, religion was not one of them. Leslie explains, “I was raised a Catholic and David is a Reform Jew. I am not, and wasn’t at the time we dated, a practicing Catholic. When we were dating and it was obvious that we were going to become engaged/married, we discussed having children and what religion we would raise them. I was fine with raising them as Reform Jews, as this was important to David and his parents.”
The Caplans celebrate Christmas (as far as putting up lights and a tree) as well as celebrating the Jewish holidays – lighting the menorah, attending services during the High Holy Days and celebrating Passover with friends and family. They also periodically attend regular Friday night services. Their one daughter, Alexandra, who is now 20 years old, was raised in the Jewish faith and became a bat mitzvah.
“There is no one best thing about our marriage, as there are so many layers to one’s marriage. David and I are very compatible and get along quite well. We both have similar interests. We are foster parents for animal rescues and have been doing fostering since 1997. We currently have two foster puppies and one kitten. Sports, travel, spending time with family and friends, hiking, whitewater rafting and visiting Arizona landmarks are some of our interests.
“It’s important to really know your partner before committing to marriage,” Leslie says. “If religion is a big part of it, iron out any differences you might have. Make sure that the two of you have common interests, whether it is traveling, sports, reading, the love of the outdoors, similar music interests. Our advice for interfaith couples is to discuss your religious differences before you get married. Make sure you are on board with how you will raise your children, should you have any. Don’t wait until after you’re married to discuss this important topic. Also, if your parents are not familiar with the religion of your soon-to-be spouse, invite them to attend services. Ask them if they have any questions about that religion. Make sure that you both are on board with how you will celebrate all the religious holidays.” “Marriage should be a life-long commitment and shouldn’t be entered into on a whim,” says Leslie. “Having a marriage partner that you love and trust and have fun with is a wonderful thing!”
Rabbi Michael Latz and Michael Simon
Minnesota Rabbi Michael Latz is charismatic, charming and filled with personality, so much so that he often travels to perform weddings, as he did last year for a couple in Scottsdale. He understands the importance of what a wedding means to a couple in love, even though his own marriage was not recognized as legal until recently. In 2006 Rabbi Michael met his soul mate, Michael Simon, from Toronto on the now defunct website, Gayjews.net. This was back in the day when J-date did not provide resources for gay Jewish singles to meet online.
Michael Simon explains, “Rabbi Michael initially sent me a note on the website because he liked my profile, not really thinking anything would come of it, because I lived in Toronto and he lived in Seattle.”
However, after corresponding for six months, they met face to face. They quickly knew they were meant to be with one another. However, since Rabbi Michael has two daughters, he proceeded cautiously.
Michael Simon explains, “In Canada gay people have the same rights as straight people, so this relationship needed to be solid if I was going to live in a country that did not provide me and my relationship with the same rights as everyone else.”
Rabbi Michael and Michael Simon married in a beautiful ceremony in Toronto, Canada, in June of 2012, not knowing that a whirlwind was soon to take place in the USA regarding gay rights, even though they were actively involved in promoting equal marriage rights for all. On Aug. 1, 2013, Minnesota signed into law marriage equality, and it completely changed the world for the Simon-Latz family. Their activism has changed the course of history, as well as earning them an invitation to the White House Hanukkah party in December 2013.