New York — For the last few years Leah Gottfried and Jessica Schechter have been producing and starring in a popular web-series on the whimsies of Modern Orthodox dating on the Upper West Side. The award-winning show, “Soon By You,” was inspired by their own experiences on the single ciruit. But when they both recently found the real-life mean of their dreams, there was concern the show would end.
“People were like, ‘Are you still going to continue with the show?’,” Gottfried laughed.
But fans need not be concerned. The second season of the show billed as the “Jewish Friends” will premiere this Sunday with a live viewing at the Marlene Meyerson JCC in Manhattan. (Tickets available here.)
The first season first aired in May 2016 and featured five episodes that garnered a total of more than 660k views on YouTube. It tackled all the resonant issues singles face: the difficulties of online dating, adhering to a shomer negiyah relationship and parental pressure to get married.
Would the show still go on?
Gottfried, 28, met Isaiah Rothstein, 30, at an event run by Hevria, a collaborative for Jewish artists. At the event, she read a poem about a breakup and he performed songs. Later, at the Limmud NY Conference 2018 in February, she attended his talk on growing up as a multi-racial Jew in Monsey. Rothstein in turn attended Gottfried’s talk on the challenges of pursuing her ambitions of an acting career in the Modern Orthodox community.
Rothstein recalled a sign from above on their first date.
“A bird went to the bathroom in my food,” he said of their outdoor lunch. “She asked if me I wanted some of hers but I was good.”
He drove through a snowstorm for another date, and on the next, he was so engrossed in conversation he ended up being late to see “Hamilton.”
Sometime after, she directed his music video.
On Thanksgiving weekend he proposed to her at the Manhattan JCC with a song. Their wedding will be this coming June.
“I think he showed great energy, passion and creativity,” Gottfried said.
Rothstein was impressed by her acting on the show and realized she was more grounded than the character she plays, a Sarah Jacobs.
Schechter, 30, met her fiance, Ahron Herring, 42, at an improv session she was running at a retreat. Herring says he was captivated by her dynamic personality and beauty, and though they exchanged numbers, nothing came of it until a month later during Simchat Torah celebrations at the Manhattan Jewish Experience.
There, Herring’s father told the actress he thought his son was interested in her.
“I sort of had that moment you get a couple of times if you’re lucky,” Herring said. “There’s two different worlds diverging. In one, you crawl away and life doesn’t change. The other is, you go for the gold.”
He asked for, and got, two dates confirmed — one on the next Tuesday and Thursday.
“I didn’t want to give any other guy a chance to go out with her,” he said.
Schechter recalls the first date being “a disaster” because he talked about his past relationships.
“I was off my game,” said Herring, adding that he was jet-lagged.
The second date went far better. He rented a hat and tails, wore white gloves and sang “Fly Me to the Moon” at her 1920s-themed birthday party. It would be the first song they danced to at their wedding, which took place last month. He proposed at a Stand Up NY comedy event with a stuffed unicorn and a ring.
“He was all in, made grand gestures and was very caring,” Schechter said. “I can be a little ridiculous at times and whatever I suggested, he was up for it.”
Herring said she was more relaxed than her character Noa, and thought the show combined comedy with serious questions daters go through. One such question, raised on last season’s finale, was whether David and Sarah (Danny Hoffman and Sara Scur) would be able to rekindle their relationship despite the fact that she decided she wanted to move to Israel and he did not.
It looked like they would kiss. But the characters, who are supposed to be shomer negiyah, and refrain from physical contact with the opposite gender, did not.
“I think it’s more interesting to see the tension that arises without [touch],” Gottfried said.
The new episodes will be available for purchase with Vimeo on Demand on February 18, and on YouTube at a later date.
Nathan Shapiro and Noam Harary return as Ben and Z. New characters will also be introduced.
“We want to explore all different marginalized voices who don’t always get screen time,” Gottfried said.
And Schechter believed there are lessons for real life one can take from the show.
“We’re so quick to lump people into categories,” she said. “You can be burned by someone and then the next person you date reminds you a little of them and you close someone off. You have to judge each person on their own. Otherwise, you might miss out on a great opportunity.”