Beshert | My Three Husbands

Rivkah Lambert Adler and her husband Rabbi Elan Adler her

I met my first husband in college. We dated for more than two years and married five days after I turned 23. Sixteen months later, he came home from a party I had not attended, sat me down and announced, “I don’t want to be married to you anymore.” More than three decades later, I still can’t make sense of what happened.

An excruciatingly prolonged relationship with Mr. Not-Even-Jewish consumed the balance of my 20s. He was black and his cultural identity was a hugely significant part of his life. That motivated me to look more deeply into my own cultural identity.

I began correcting a lifelong ignorance of my heritage by studying Judaism. At first, it was merely an intellectual/anthropological curiosity. It was years before I took Judaism seriously.

At 29, I remarried. I learned how to keep Shabbat, how to keep kosher and how to study Torah in a way that soothed my soul. Alas, despite producing two delicious children, my second marriage soured fairly quickly, though I hung on for seven years.

I was 0 for 2.

By then, I was living an Orthodox life in a major Jewish community in Baltimore, yet I was significantly different from most Orthodox women. Besides being a ba’alat teshuva (adult returnee to traditional Judaism), I had an advanced secular education, a significant professional identity, two young daughters and two ex-husbands.

The chances of me meeting a suitable Orthodox man were negligible. I fully expected to be alone for a long time.

Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht—Man plans and God laughs. I don’t know why or how I merited such a gift, but the very same year my second marriage ended, I finally met my beshert.

Within a period of a few weeks, two friends and a colleague mentioned the same local, never-married, congregational rabbi to me. Despite the fact that she hadn’t spoken to him in 20 years, one friend was so convinced we were beshert that she left him a monumentally long voicemail message, encouraging him to call me.

A few days went by and I hadn’t heard from him yet. So, I called him. This isn’t generally done in the Orthodox world. I remember clearly thinking that if it put him off, we wouldn’t be a match anyway.

We went out for coffee after a Torah lecture in his shul

Eight months later, we married in a huge synagogue wedding, with 1300 congregants and day school students in attendance. 

The couple at their wedding in Baltimore

Rivkah and Rabbi Elan Adler at their wedding on December 11, 1996, at Beth Tfiolh Congregation in Baltimore

I may have had a painfully rocky start, but we have been blessed (so far!) with 24 peaceful, harmonious years. We function together as a team, and that has made all the difference.

That, and the fact that he makes me laugh every single day. 

The author and her husband at a family wedding

At a family wedding in Beit Shemesh, 2019.

Rivkah Lambert Adler is a freelance journalist, book reviewer and adult educator, specializing in Jewish and Israel content. Her particular focus is on the current non-Jewish awakening to Torah. Her beshert, Rabbi Elan Adler, is a Torah teacher and pastoral counselor. They made aliyah in 2010 and live among the Judean hills, just south of Jerusalem. They have children and grandchildren in Israel and the U.S.

15 thoughts on “Beshert | My Three Husbands

  1. Alice says:

    Three’s the charm .

  2. Tzipora Frager says:

    I love your story and I love that I was there when it was happening. Yashur koah

  3. Sharon Katz says:

    Sometimes it takes tiiiiime to meet the right one. And now it’s clear to see you certainly have met your match. Until 120 together.

  4. Ruti Eastman says:

    I love this post! It reminds me of what the Dearly Beloved always says: “Sometimes, the ones who were dumb enough to let you get away were to keep you busy until the smart guy who valued you for you was ready for you.” Lovely, encouraging story for those who have not yet found their beshert; validating for those of us who also had a rocky road to real romance. May you continue in harmony and laughter for long, healthy, happy years!

  5. Estie Solomon says:

    Boruch Hashem you both made a wonderful Shiddach, and you give so much over of your love and talents to the greater Jewish Community. Have a Shabbat Shalom and please keep those wonderful articles and great Shiurim coming. Estie Solomon

  6. rivkah, you continue to amaze me with your introspection.
    and elan–i knew you were good, but boy oh boy, you’re even better!

  7. Donnalyne Goldstein LaGiglia says:

    Dear Rivkah, thank you for your courageous spirit to post this. I have been given much condemnation for my divorce by religious leaders. I have to overcome everyday guilt. But God only knows my heart.

  8. Ed Boring says:

    This is so beautiful, I can hardly stand it. May you and Elan be greatly blessed for many more years of love and laughter. Brakhot rabbah (is that even close to correct usage and spelling?)

  9. Maya Adiv says:

    Many happy years to the both of you!!

  10. Mesa & Ed says:

    Ha! Third time’s the charm. And well worth all the growing & maturing & work that made you ready for each other. To 120 for you both!

  11. Wendy says:

    Who knew?? I think your story will encourage many others. Very brave of you to share, and may your words continue to make a difference! We miss you both!

  12. Sandra says:

    I love this Rivka. You are blessed❤️You both are

  13. Brenda barrie says:

    I didn’t know the background to your marriage but having enjoyed your company in Baltimore I’m surprised there was such drama behind it. You earned each other. Brenda

  14. Amy Feldman says:

    So happy you shared this piece with us. It is truly beautiful and uplifting!!! Many,many more years of wedded bliss in good health and prosperity.

  15. Fred Hyder says:

    What we want most for each other is happiness. If that has been accomplished, the history leading to that point, it was just part your life’s journey. You deserve the happiness and joy in your life.❤️

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