Finding Love in Punjab, India

By Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt

Published August 19, 2005, issue of August 19, 2005.
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Just months after being introduced by a pair of mutual friends at a spiritual colony in Punjab, India, Ken Rosenblatt and Ruth Deyenne married July 19 in a small ceremony at the new couple’s home in Falls Church, Va. The service was presided over by Justice of the Peace Georgianne Atkins-Haville and was attended by friends and family who were invited to sing songs, play instruments and give readings.

In honor of the bride, passages were read from The Book of Ruth. The marriage vows were adapted from Chaim Nachman Bialik’s poem “Take Me Under Your Wing.” The bride, a native Israeli, sang her vows in Hebrew. The groom then repeated them in English.

Deyenne, 46, was raised in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givatayim. After serving in the army, where she taught juvenile delinquents and was the best shot in her unit, she attended Hebrew University, where she earned a degree in English Literature. She then worked for seven years in the field of homeopathic medicine, specializing in skin ointments. She then relocated to London, where she earned a master’s in herbal medicine. Most recently she has been teaching ayurvedic medicine in Jerusalem on a private basis.

Rosenblatt, 55, a native of Massapequa, N.Y., attended Friends World College, where he was first exposed to the culture of India, and Catholic University, from which he earned a master’s degree in social work. For the past 25 years, he has been affiliated with Georgetown University.

An Israeli convention suggests that a man pick out an engagement ring without input from his bride (a consequent convention dictates that it be returnable), and this tradition was observed. But no returns were necessary when the handmade white gold-blue sapphire ring chosen by the groom perfectly matched a pair of white gold-sapphire and diamond earrings the bride had purchased a year earlier. Though the matrimonial logistics were discussed long distance via telephone, the proposal itself occurred on the groom’s stairwell.

The bride wore a dress made of silk, which she had bought in Delhi. A friend of the bride, an American designer who made aliya 20 years ago, crafted a multilayered baroque-inspired dress beaded with pearls.

The festivities were catered by a local Middle Eastern restaurant, and the menu featured oven-baked vegetarian kuba made with semolina and pumpkin seeds, several different varieties of hummus, stuffed grape leaves, teas from Israel, chocolate and vanilla cakes, and grapes.

Though the couple spent only five days in March together in India after they met, they sensed a strong, multilayered connection. Rosenblatt went to Jerusalem a little more than a month later to visit Deyenne at her home in the city’s German Colony neighborhood. He later related that when they were reunited: “She looked more familiar than anyone I’d ever seen. I knew her eyes, her skin and her features. I knew her character. There was a level of trust that I couldn’t explain.”

Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt, a nephew of the groom, is a writer and dirctor whose work has appeared in Vibe, Nerve and DC Comics as well as on MTV, CMT and the Sundance Channel.

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