My love story and understanding the power of Beshert


Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

Dear Reader,

I’m a true sucker for a great love story and I’m a firm believer in the concept of beshert, the Yiddish word that means “destined” or “fated.” It can be used to describe all kinds of lucky or fortuitous situations, not just romantic ones, but for this story, I am focusing on romance.

You see, I found my beshert when I was 15 years old. Admittedly, it took a while to get all the math correct, but what good love story isn’t worth the wait? If you’ve heard this story before, forgive me. I feel like I’ve told it a million times, but to save you some time, here’s the story of Jordan and Leigh, courtesy of KSDK’s Kelly Jackson who told our story before Valentine’s Day in 2003.

Understanding Beshert

In my heart, I really believe in beshert. I believe its power was why I gave up soccer camp to go to Camp Thunderbird in Minnesota. I believe it had a hand when my Knoxville girlfriend dumped me in 1995 and I went to New Orleans to visit my “best camp friends” Mike and Leigh to recover. That two months later, Leigh’s first cousin Robin and I were both at Jeff Bernstein’s wedding in St. Louis and she suggested Leigh come visit to see her newly born twins. That Leigh would come in to see the twins, and never leave. I believe.

Another believer is Rabbi Rachel Bearman of Congregation Shaare Emeth.

“While some use beshert to mean “soulmate,” my favorite translation is “meant to be,” said Bearman. “While I love the idea that God has chosen a perfect partner for every person, I think that a couple’s decision to choose one another is actually what makes them beshert (meant to be).”

While there are a few examples of romantic love in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), it is not until the Talmud (a vast collection of layered, rabbinic conversations) that we see the concept of what we, as modern people, would call “soulmates.”

“In Sotah 2a, and I feel like it’s necessary to warn you that Sotah is not the most romantic of Talmudic tractates, the rabbis have a conversation about their belief that God has decided who each person’s ‘destined one’ will be even before they are conceived,” said Bearman.

Sotah 2a continues: “Forty days before a child is born, a voice from heaven announces: ‘The daughter of this person is destined for so-and-so.’”

That said, not everyone is a believer in fate, and that is fine. Believing Leigh and I are “meant to be” doesn’t make building a happy life together any easier. The Talmud does not say “Oh, and you also live happily ever after, no matter what.” No, even those who believe in beshert have to do the work. Some more than others.

That is where Rabbi Bearman comes in.

Beshert 101

Early next month, Congregation Shaare Emeth is hosting a workshop for engaged or soon-to-be engaged people of all gender identities, sexual orientations, races, and religious background. While the workshop will be held at Shaare Emeth, it’s open to the entire St. Louis community; you do not need to be a Shaare Emeth member to attend.

“We chose to name our workshop Beshert 101 because it will be a safe, joyful, connective and informative space for couples who have found their ‘meant-to-be’ person and are preparing to celebrate their love with a wedding ceremony,” said Bearman.

The program is based on the idea that couples planning weddings and building marriages face infinite options for customizing their ceremonies (and their lives), and sometimes the sheer number of options can be overwhelming.

The two main goals for Beshert 101 are:

  • To share useful information about beautiful Jewish customs that can add meaning and depth to our participants’ upcoming weddings.
  • To help Jewish-Jewish and interfaith couples connect with one another at this important moment in their lives.

“Do you want to learn about ketubahs (wedding contracts) and how to make sure your ketubah reflects your identities and values? Are you wondering why Jewish people stomp on glasses at the end of wedding ceremonies and have questions about whether your shoes will protect your feet? Do you need ideas for how you can honor your non-Jewish family members in your wedding ceremony? We’ll cover all this and more,” said Bearman.

The free class is on Nov. 5th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can register here: