They have power. They have charm. They have longterm commitment. And some of them are annoying. With the understanding that we are merely scratching the surface, here they are, in no particular order: the power couples of Judaism.
Status: Married (2001)
Him: A business brainiac who has managed to have an early stake in Expedia, Tinder, and the TV show “The Simpsons,” Diller founded holding company IAC and cloned his Jack Russell Terrier.
Her: DVF is a fashion icon and businesswoman, a one-time princess, the child of an Auschwitz survivor who used to lock her in a closet to teach her to fear nothing.
Why we love their love: Happily married for seventeen years, the couple maintains separate living arrangements in some cities. “Sometimes I just need to get away from the dogs,” von Fürstenberg says.
Status: Married (1996)
Her: A modern Jewish icon.
Him: A 90’s legend who grew up to be a cool dad.
Why we love their love:When they met in 1991 she was a Yankees fan, he rooted for the Mets, and he asked her out over voicemail. She wore black to their synagogue wedding. All tinseltown trappings aside, they seem thrilled to be spending their lives together. One day, when the time comes, their three children are going to have a lot of TV and films to catch up on.
Status: Married (2010)
Her: A whip-smart Australian bombshell.
Him: Not afraid to dress up as Borat for months on end.
Why we love their love: Forget that they jointly donate millions to refugee aid causes, they’re dazzlingly good-looking and they’re each the only person funny enough to be with the other person.
Status: Married (2017)
Him: Five feet and seven inches of charm and talent.
Her: The same, give or take a few inches.
Why we love their love: They met at Mardi Gras, raise their cats as children, and support each other through everything.
Status: Married (1968) Her: The Barefoot Bontessa, formerly the shod White House nuclear energy expert, and most recently a day-drinking expert.
Him: Why, he’s Jeffrey. He’s Ina’s lovely husband Jeffrey!
Why we love their love: The couple that launched a thousand mail-deliveries of homemade brownies defines “couple goals” — they seem to love taking care of each other more every year.
Ovadia Cohen, grandson of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former chief rabbi, Shas Party spiritual leader and foremost Sephardic Halachic authority in recent times, married his partner at a ceremony led by a religious gay woman. #LGBTQ#Israelpic.twitter.com/757bgVVjrY— Eli Dror (@edrormba) December 10, 2018
Status: Married (2018)
Him: Ovadia Cohen is the grandson of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yoseph, who was the Chief Rabbi of Israel and leader of the Shas party. Cohen was raised partially by his grandfather.
Him: Amichai Landsman grew up in a religious family in Haifa, who he says have come to accept him.
Why we love their love: Despite the stress of the public eye and the seriously anti-gay rhetoric from within their communities (the chief rabbi once called gay people “completely evil,”) the couple has a joyful partnership and has chosen to maintain their religious practices. Their wedding was officiated by Zahorit Sorek, a queer, Orthodox woman.
Ori Berwald Shaer and Alonah Livneh
#ICYMI: via @nytimes@bariweiss: A Triple Wedding. A Defiant Protest - “One area where American #Jews have something to teach #Israel is religious pluralism” https://t.co/AUZQZSLICo @aesensten @havivrettiggur @marcatracy@lrosbrow@RabbiRuth@rebsteve— Religion and State (@religion_state) December 10, 2017
Alona and Ori are the center couple
Status: Married (2017)
Her: Alona Livneh is an LGBT rights activist in Israel.
Her: Ori Berwald Shaer is an LGBT rights activist in Israel.
Why we love their love: Oh, where to start? Alona and Ori met at their mutual best friends’ wedding and fell in love shortly thereafter. The activists and Israeli Reform Jews married in a highly documented triple wedding at Manhattan’s Temple Emanu-El in 2017, spreading joy and protesting the fact that queer couples cannot obtain legal marriages in Israel.
Status: Married (1954 until Ginsburg’s death in 2010)
Him: A twinkly-eyed tax genius and family man.
Her: One of the most influential figures of the last 100 years.
Why we love their love: Ruth and Marty’s love was otherworldly. Together, they glowed. They represented the still-elusive heterosexual relationship where the woman’s more extraordinary career is put first by both partners, without sacrificing egalitarianism and respect in the relationship.
Barbra Streisand and James Brolin
Status: Married (1998)
Her: If you have to ask, you’re not ready for this list.
Him: A hunky older actor — not a Jew, but he’s with Babs.
Why we love their love: The two stars, who met on a blind date, have the rare quality of each illuminating each other, instead of competing for the limelight.
Kleinbaum and Weingarten, with Israeli Knesset member Stav Shaffir
Status: Married (2018)
Her: Rabbi Kleinbaum is the rockstar leader of the queer-focused Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan.
Her: Weingarten is the powerhouse president of the American Federation of Teachers.
Why we love their love: The two powerful women had orbited each other professionally and socially in New York since the 1990s, the New York Times writes, but for decades, nothing happened between them. Then, in 2012, Weingarten finally asked the rabbi on a first date — to one of Obama’s state dinners. The answer was a no. Yet somehow, they came together. We imagine that a state dinner redo is not far in their future.
Status: Married (circa 2014)
Her: A Jerusalemite songwriter.
Him: An American-Israeli songwriter.
Why we love their love: It’s a hipster love story written in hemp and burning sage — they first crossed paths on a balcony, only exchanging a few words. Finally, he learned her name through a YouTube video. They started a positive-vibes folk band, using a portmanteau of their first names. They are the aggressively beautiful religious Israeli duo “Yonina,” and they are coming for your feelings, mark our words.
Sivan Rahav Meir and Yedidya Meir
Status: Married (2003)
Him: He hosts a morning show on Kol Chai radio and writes for the religious nationalist newspaper B’Sheva.
Her:Israel’s most popular female news anchor. By the age of 18 she had a bachelor’s degree and an interview with Yizchak Rabin under her belt. Now she’s a prime-time anchor on Israel’s Channel 2, a columnist for the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, a host for the radio show Galei Tzahal — and one of Israel’s most beloved Torah lecturers.
Why we love their love: When we’re not busy being exhausted by this very busy Orthodox duo’s love, we think this couple (they have five children, by the way) is pretty glorious. Sivan told the Forward, “We are always together, even on social media - we don’t separate there either. Yedidya joins me for my biggest Channel 2 scoops and exclusives; he films the interviews often. He helps me redefine myself, asks me the tough questions: ‘Is this news story truly important? Why does it matter if it’s exclusive to you, if you get it first? So what?’” The couple co-hosts a show every Friday afternoon on the popular Army Radio.
The interfaith all-stars
Status: Partners, together for 35 years
Him: Longtime actor with a fancy jawline.
Her: Academy award nominee, singer, and dancer, whose career stretches decades.
Why we love their love: They’re just the best. They met at 21 (her) and 16 (him) on a movie set. 17 years later, when they finally went on a date, they spent the night together, and Russell says they’ve lived together ever since.
Serge and Beate Klarsfeld
Status: Married (1953)
Him: A Romanian-born Jew who survived the Holocaust in France, but lost his father in Auschwitz.
Her: The daughter of a German soldier. They met when she came to Paris to study at university.
Why we love their love: When the couple married, they decided to devote their lives to hunting nazis. That’s what they did for the next fifty-plus years. They most famously tracked down Klaus Barbie, the so-called “Butcher of Lyon,” and saw him extradited to France and convicted. In addition to routing out at least 10 nazis, they pushed French leaders to acknowledge the role of the Vichy Regime. The couple has been tenacious and exacting in tracking down nazis and collaborators, but they also aren’t above straightforward action — at a rally in 1968, Beate slapped a former Nazi across the face, starting the trend of “nazi-punching” today. The couple, both in or nearing their 80’s, wrote a memoir about their exploits that won this year’s Jewish Book Award.
Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler
Status: Married (2008)
Him: Adler is a potter whose gracious home goods have led to a line in his name, a chain of stores, four books, and a Bravo show.
Him: “Writer, bon-vivant, window dresser, fashion commentator” — that’s Doonan, the longtime window designer and former creative director at Barneys, in his own words.
Why we love their love: Let’s turn it over once again to Doonan. Here’s what he said about their dynamic in the New York Times profile of their wedding in 2008: “We have a ridiculous amount in common. We both hate smug people. We both rant at the same things. We both drink a lot of tea.”
Molly Yeh and Nick Hagen
Status: Married (2014)
Him: The scion of a sugar beet farm and a Julliard-educated trombonist.
Her: Don’t google “Molly Yeh” unless you have at least five spare hours, because everything about this Julliard-percussionist-turned-food-blogger-turned-celebrity-chef is addictive.
Why we love their love: It’s disgustingly cute. The couple met at Julliard as undergrad musicians and moved to his home farm in Grand Forks, Minnesota, together, where he tends the farm as she turns out boring foods like, oh, you know, latke pumpkin pie and everything bagel galettelettes on her Food Network show, “Girl Meets Farm.” They are expecting their first child, probably another multitalented genius with dimples.
Status: Married (2000)
Him: Leading man.
Her: Leading lady.
Why we love their love: “With you in my life, every day could be a twelve hour fantastic party at The Plaza in New York,” Zeta Jones wrote on the couple’s 17th anniversary, recalling their luxurious nuptials. The couple has made it through numerous serious health scares, Zeta-Jones’ bipolar diagnosis, and a near-miss with a #metoo accusation, and handled it all with remarkable grace.
The next generation:
Him: The investor, start-up smartie, and sole left-leaning vestige of That Kushner family.
Her: A supermodel, coder, and feminist leader. You can’t put her in a box — for one thing, she’s too tall.
Why we love their love: These hideously beautiful young things dated for almost seven years (think Jacob trying to marry Rachel) before tying the knot — only after she converted. Can be seen: covertly attending the Women’s March, jet-setting, wearing couture.
Hannah Bronfman and Brendan Fallis
Status: Married (2017)
Him: Canadian DJ and fitness person. Model.
Her: The DJ and fitness and lifestyle guru daughter of Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Shery Brewer. Model.
Why we love their love: Do we have any choice? They’re perfectly sculpted wax-figure international DJs who pop between the Hamptons and Cannes. When they want to see each other, they schedule a meeting on iCal.
YJ Fischer and Dan Schwerin
https://t.co/fYsooot63Q— Jenny Singer (@JeanValjenny) February 13, 2019
Status: Married (2017)
Him: Speechwriter for Hillary Clinton; collaborated on “What Happened” and “Hard Choices.”
Her: Former diplomat for the state department (she helped with the Iran deal), now senior at Hyperloop, working to develop ground transportation that is as fast as flying. Daughter of Orthodox rabbi Dov B. Fischer.
Why we love their love: Once rivals, the couple met in 2005 as staffers on Tim Kaine’s gubernatorial race. Their long courtship had classic ups and downs, like her spontaneously moving to Afghanistan to serve a non-profit. She proposed on an Italian side street, under hanging vines.
Iconic Jewish couples of history:
Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas
Status: Partners (from roughly 1907 until Stein’s death in 1946)
Her & Her: Stein was a legendary writer and thinker. Together, she and Toklas presided over Paris’ salons, alongside fixtures like Picasso, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald. Stein wrote, Toklas edited, Toklas ran the house, Stein revered Toklas, Toklas revered Stein.
Why we love their love: Romeo & Juliet? Please! Wake us up when one half of a couple writes an autobiography in the voice of the other, as Stein did in “The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas.” Gertrude and Alice were a true power couple.
Marc and Bella Chagall
Status: Married (1914 until Bella’s death in 1944)
Him: An early Modernist painter, sometimes credited as the father of surrealism.
Her: A Yiddish writer and memoirist.
Why we love their love: He took her as his muse. She wrote of him, “When you did catch a glimpse of his eyes, they were as blue as if they’d fallen straight out of the sky.” They survived two World Wars together, became refugees, moved countries and continents. In his paintings, their love gives them the power of flight.
Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky
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The weight of the world is love. Under the burden of solitude, under the burden of dissatisfaction the weight, the weight we carry is love. — from “Song” Howl and Other Poems, City Lights 1956. Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg, Rue Git-le-Coeur, Paris, January 1958. Photo: Harold Chapman #haroldchapman #peterorlovsky #allenginsberg #beatgeneration #song #poetry #poets #poetsofinstagram #instapoets #instapoetry #citylights #howlandotherpoems #harpercollins #essentialginsberg #love #vote #queer #gay #literature #vote
Status: Married (not legally, but they referred to it as a marriage) from 1954 until Ginsburg’s death in 1997
Him & Him: The two lovers helped found the beatnik movement together in San Francisco and inspired each other’s poetry.
Why we love their love: “Dear, Petey, O Heart O Love everything is suddenly turned to gold!” was a typical letter opening from Ginsburg to Orlovsky, as a 1958 letter demonstrated. He continued, “I even feel much changed, great clouds rolled away, as I feel when you and I were in rapport, well, our rapport has remained in me, with me, rather than losing it, I’m feeling to everyone, something of the same as between us.”
Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny
24 Top Power Couples: Jewish Edition