How Yudi and Simcha Met


Yudi Hercenberg and Simcha Nunez got engaged in a helicopter on December 27, 2019. They were flying to the cemetery to observe the Chabad custom of praying at the grave of the Lubavitcher Rebbe before publicly announcing their engagement.

Simcha first was told about Yudi on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, when she was in Israel for a five-month program at a kibbutz ulpan.

Simcha: “I was raised in a Chabad family who moved from Italy to Brooklyn when I was a child. I graduated from Yeshiva University with a BA in Public Relations and then worked for several years in social media.

“When I turned 28, I decided to take a break from the dating scene in New York and to refresh myself spiritually. Still, I wanted to get married. Mid-November, I was at the Kotel, and I cried out to the Almighty: ‘This is in Your hands. Please send me my soul mate and please send him soon. The next guy you send my way, I’m going to really try and be open about it.”’

Yudi: “A week earlier I had been vacationing in Israel, and I too did a lot of praying — at the Kotel and at the grave of my mother in Beit Shemesh. I wanted to find a wife. But I had to leave for a business trip in Miami.”

Yudi is managing director of Walker & Dunlop, a commercial real estate finance firm. He grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland and graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Business Administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Yudi: “Though I had a busy work schedule in Miami, I managed to meet with Rabbi Yossi Smierc, director of KSpaceMiami. He suggested different women and we narrowed the list down to eight. Simcha was my Number One, but I eliminated her because she was in Israel. When things didn’t work out with Number Two, I asked Rabbi Smierc to reach out to Simcha. I then headed back to New York, where I was living.”

Mon., Nov 18: Simcha receives a WhatsApp from Rabbi Smierc

Simcha: “It was five a.m. when I received a link to Yudi’s Facebook. I was half asleep, but I remembered my deal with Hashem. So I accepted. Within seconds, I received a message from Yudi.”

Wed., Nov. 20: First conversation

Simcha: “It started as a phone call. But we FaceTimed for two more hours and continued to FaceTime for about four hours every day.”

Sun., Nov. 24: Yudi meets Simcha’s dad

Yudi: “Though I wasn’t raised Chabad, I felt very connected to them and I was invited to their International Conference in New Jersey.”

Simcha: “Though my dad wasn’t planning to attend this conference, I asked him to go, so he could try to meet Yudi, and give me his blessing. And he did.”

Yudi: “On the way back from the conference, he asked me directly: ‘Will you be going to Israel to meet my daughter?’”

Tues., Dec. 3: First date in Jerusalem

Yudi: “I had considered coming to Israel for my mother’s yahrzeit in February. But Simcha pushed a bit – not enough to push me away, but enough so that I listened. After dating every moment of the week in Israel, I wasn’t sure what our next steps might be.”

An hour before leaving for the airport, Simcha surprised Yudi: “Next week is your birthday. I’ll see you in New York. My dad bought me a ticket.”

Shabbat, Dec. 20-21: Couple celebrates Yudi’s birthday with Simcha’s family in Crown Heights

Wed., Dec. 25: Yudi’s sister FaceTimes the couple and asks: “When are you two getting married?”

Simcha to Yudi: “When are you going to talk to my parents?”

Thurs., Dec. 26 Yudi receives permission from Simcha’s parents to marry her.

The couple plans an engagement party for Tuesday night, Dec. 31.

What attracted Yudi to Simcha? “Simcha always has a smile on her face. And I love her name.”

Simcha: “I love how passionate Yudi is about helping others and truly making a difference in the world.”

Yudi has been involved with over 50 charitable non-profit organizations, both financially and as a volunteer.

As a team, Yudi and Simcha are now helping Rabbi Smierc expand his matchmaking program by organizing group Zoom meetings, called Virtual Konnection.

Sun, March 1, 2020: Ninety days after their first date, Simcha and Yudi are married in Key Largo, Florida. Rabbi Mark Wildes officiates. Mazal tov.

Dr. Leah Hakimian currently researches the question: How do Jewish couples meet and marry? In the 1990s 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.