Love and work: Often they go together

Entrepreneur.com asks: “Want to meet the love of you life?” And advises: “Go to work.”

That’s what Liora did, and that’s how she met her husband Shai. Liora Avrahamian went to work in |srael’s southern coastal town of Ashdod at the office of Magen David Adom (MDA), the country’s first-aid and disaster relief organization. Eleven couples have met and married while working and volunteering for MDA in Ashdod over the last decade.

How does one explain this phenomenon of love in the workplace? In an article for US News and World Report, posted on Feb. 6, called “Cubicle Love: Tips for Workplace Dating,” Marty Nemko makes the following observation: “With more women in the workplace, and people working longer hours, our officemates have become key members of our social networks.”

Shai adds: “While working the night shift at MDA, shop talk often segues into personal talk. “

When Liora graduated from high school in Ashdod, a city of 200,000, she elected to do National Service at her hometown MDA, and in 2000, she started to work as a paid employee there in the communications center, mostly as a dispatcher. She also decided not to date other employees.

A few months later, Shai Elazami began working at MDA in Ashdod. It was in his blood — his father was one of its founders. Shai is a certified paramedic and a licensed ambulance driver. When he began to work the night shift, Liora was his dispatcher. Their brief communications began to stretch.

Nemko, who met his wife at work, writes: “Before we got involved, we got to check each other out in real-life situations rather than, for example, peering at each other through the fog of bars and booze.” And in the Ashdod workplace, Liora was checking out Shai, and found him to be both supportive and helpful. “These are two qualities that I especially appreciate,” says Liora.

Marty Nemko, Liora and Shai all advise against dating between a supervisor and a subordinate. As Nemko writes: “Even if it doesn’t violate company policy, problems abound from the start. Just imagine if there were a legitimate reason to fire the person.”

When Shai and Liora started dating, they observed the following rule: To keep quiet about the relationship until they knew it was serious. Nemko puts it this way: “Keep your relationship secret as long as possible. Otherwise, co-workers will scrutinize the two of you for any hint that somebody’s playing favorites.”

When their dating became serious, and they began thinking about marriage, Shai and Liora considered the plus of marrying someone from the office. “We totally understand each other’s pressure from work,” says Shai. Liora adds, “Yet early on we made the decision to try and separate work from family life.”

Nemko makes this suggestion: “If you’re together both in and out of the office, things can get stifling. Allow time apart. Give each space.”

Shai and Liora were married on July 15, 2003, and are now the happy parents of a baby daughter, Sielle. MDA policy does not allow husband and wife to work the same shift. This is good news for Sielle, as she always has either her mom or her dad at home with her.

Dror Richter, the head of MDA Lachish region, which includes Ashdod, is delighted about the 11 marriages (and no divorces) from his Ashdod unit. “It doesn’t hurt the work. And I hope that the children of these couple will also come to work with MDA — either as employees or volunteers.”

Today MDA-Israel has about 10,000 volunteers, of which half are teenagers (the oldest volunteer is 86, the youngest is 15). One of the volunteers is Liora’s 20-year-old brother, who has been volunteering since he was 17.

Tourists are also welcome as volunteers. Check out the website: http://www.wzo.org.il/en/programs/view.asp?id=145

Maybe there will be another wedding. Good luck!

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