When Eliot Bickoff bent down on one knee to propose, Carly Kulawitz paused and mused: “I can’t let him be down there alone. He’s getting all wet.” So, during a torrential storm, on a bridge over a lake near the Jersey shore in the presence of their good friends all carrying sparklers, Carly also kneeled down to accept Eliot’s proposal. The couple noted the significance of the bridge—meeting in the middle and then crossing over together. They got engaged on New Year’s eve in 2018. Eliot was 36 and Carly, 31.
Ezekiel, a friend of Eliot’s, had suggested the match. He’d met Carly in August 2017 at the Tu B’Av white party. When Ezekiel asked for her number, she responded: “I like you but you’re out of my age range. I’m really looking to meet someone though – do you know anyone for me?” Ezekiel immediately thought of Eliot and called him the next day. Eliot called Carly a few weeks later.
Eliot, a New Jersey native, is a partner at Asta and Associates, a personal injury law firm in New York. He received his B.A. degree from Rutgers University and his J.D. from Seton Hall University.
Carly, a Connecticut native, is an elementary school music teacher at Trevor Day School in Manhattan. She graduated magna cum laude from the Eastman School of Music and received a master’s degree in music education from Columbia University.
Carly describes their first date at a bar on the Upper West Side: “It was one of the worst first dates I had ever been on. We both left underwhelmed. Still, I left the door open and told him: ‘Call me if you want to get together again.’”
Eliot occasionally texted and they noticed each other at a Museum of Jewish Heritage party. Eliot recalls: “We flirted a bit and I invited her to an LCD Soundsystem concert, but she had other plans.”
Late in December, Carly texted him about the New Year’s party, hosted by Erin Davis, an organizer of single events. Carly: “Are you coming/maybe a midnight kiss?” Eliot responded: “Yes, I’m coming.” But he didn’t answer the second question and Carly decided that she was finished with him. Yet they flirted most of the evening and there was a midnight kiss.
In February, Eliot called and invited her for a Valentine’s Day dinner. Carly: “I accepted but then had to cancel because I got really sick.” How did Eliot respond? “I brought her two quarts of kosher chicken soup with a big red rose.” Carly: “That was the turning point in our relationship.”
Eliot grew up in the Orthodox community and Carly comes from a Reform background. “But it works,” Carly explains: “Eliot proposed to me in the middle of a bridge. We’re all about meeting in the middle.”
Carly continues: “It was important for me to find a guy who is Jewish, older than me, is close to his family, and is kind and big-hearted. That perfectly describes Eliot. I also like how he pursued me, how he courted me. He still sends me flowers regularly. Eliot treats me like a queen.”
As they walked down the aisle to their chuppah, Carly’s friend and fellow musician, Deborah Sacks Mintz, sang the Lincoln nigun (melody) of “L’cha Dodi,” a hymn about the Shabbat queen.
Carly and Eliot were married on July 4, 2019 at Lakota Oaks, an events space in Norwalk, Connecticut. Rabbi Daniel Kraus officiated. Mazal tov!
More from the Matchmaker column here.
Dr. Leah Hakimian currently researches the question: How Jewish couples meet and marry. In the 90’s she founded two nonprofit Jewish matchmaking programs, and continues to champion the role of community in helping singles meet. She resides in Jerusalem and Great Neck, New York.