A Girl From Rio Meets A Guy From Brooklyn


Can you really find your soul mate?

Recently I went to a wedding that made me think that perhaps, despite all the technology inserted in our lives and all the match-dating sites available on the internet, some things never change. And that maybe, just maybe, it is possible, in this day and age to find your beshert.

Bianca Benoliel was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and graduated from Ithaca College in upstate New York. From there, she got a job at Coty and worked her way up the ladder at such high-end companies as L’Oreal, Diageo, Conde Nast and Louis Vitton. She has lived in Paris, Mexico City, New York and São Paulo. She is cultivated, well-traveled and speaks many languages. To say that she is kind, smart, beautiful and charismatic is just scratching the surface of her qualities.

Steve Shoenfeld was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Woodmere, NY. He graduated from Clark University, got his masters in International Relations at Johns Hopkins and receive a Fulbright to study economics in Singapore. He began investing in Israeli equities while managing global stock portfolios at Barclays Global Investors (now Blackrock). He served on several advisory boards for Israel's capital market regulator, and advised the Tel Aviv stock exchange in 2009. In 2011, he founded Blue Star Global Investors, a research firm that specializes in Israeli stocks.

Incredible back rounds, for bride and groom. Solid citizens. But single people. Despite all their strong credentials, and a desire for a lasting connection, all of their previous connections eventually ended.

Until one day. Steve was having drinks with friends at the bar of The Jade Hotel in NYC. He explained to his friends that it’s actually very hard to find a nice lady in the city. One of them said: ”I think I know someone who you might want to meet.”

Bianca and Steve met over Facebook. Steve had a trip scheduled to Brazil and Bianca agreed to meet him at a bar in Rio. Their first date lasted 8 hours. He thought: “I must find a way to make this long distance relationship work.” She thought: “What a nice gringo!”

Bianca was living in São Paulo at the time, looking for a new job after her employer, Louis Vuitton, decided to downsize their offices due to a recession in Brazil. Now get this: On the very same day that she and Steve met, Bianca checked her e-mail and found a job proposal to be the marketing manager for Bulgari in NYC.

And this is what strikes me as female Jewish wisdom at its highest: Instead of telling Steve the glittering news, Bianca held on to the information until she was certain that he was the guy.

It took a while for these two to find each other, but they both waited, patiently, hopefully, wisely and with a special composure, long enough to get some help from that fickle entity known as luck. Most people would have turned their lives into gritty, rocky sagas by then, which is why their story is quite a useful lesson in this crazy age of ours. It remind us that luck comes in many different forms, and some people have what can be described only as talent for persistence.

This January, Steve and Bianca got married at The Jade Hotel, the very same place where he first heard about her. She is 42 and he is 51. First marriage for both. Can you believe it?

I can, because they both set this up to happen. This marriage is the return on the bets they both made when they both had the chance to settle with the wrong people at different periods in their lives. They kept faith across decades, infusing their lives with a profound sense of Judaism and an even more profound sense of gratitude, despite loneliness along the way.

Mazel tov, Bianca and Steve!

And for those of you who want to try a little treat from the wedding, here is the recipe for the national candy of Brazil, Brigadeiro, which is an incredible chocolate fudge rolled in chocolate sprinkles. You can make this easy recipe at home, but I am also happy to announce the first Brigadeiro Bakery ever to open in New York City. It’s the creation of Mariana Vieria, whose recipe you can find over at The JW’s Food & Wine section if you click here. Mazel tov to you, too, Mariana!