Finding love in Israel: American Jewish Married Couples Meet in The Holy Land
Finding love in Israel: American Jewish Married Couples Meet in The Holy Land
June 1, 2023


When young Jewish adults travel to Israel through trips presented by organizations such as Taglit-Birthright Israel or Jewish National Fund-USA, they are usually looking for meaningful connections to their heritage and religion.

However, some participants on these trips found something more in addition to connections to Judaism and Israel: their bashert (soul mate).

There are Jewish married couples in the United States who first met their future spouses on these kinds of trips.

Kleins from Hollywood, FL

Among these couples is an LGBTQ one from Hollywood, FL that recently tied the knot. Danielle Greenbaum Klein and Carly Klein, who got married to each other on Nov. 19, 2022 in Boca Raton, FL, met on a University of Miami Birthright Israel trip in 2013.

Both Carly, 30, and Danielle, 29, feel that Birthright Israel, which offers free trips to Israel for Jewish young adults between the ages of 18 and 32, was an integral part of forming their strong Jewish identities.

“I think it really fortified the foundation because the start of our story takes place in the holiest part in the world, and there really isn’t a better page one to helping write your book of life with your life partner,” Carly said. “I think it’s pretty meaningful because it connects us to religion, to tradition and to great times and great stories. It’s not like we met at a bar. We met in Israel. Not many people can say that.”

Carly continued, “We also incorporated a lot of Jewish traditions in our wedding, and I think people in our position are sometimes afraid to incorporate those kinds of religious traditions thinking they’ll be rejected or that it doesn’t go with their identity.”

Carly, who was born and bred in South Florida, was raised in a Reform Jewish family and attended a Jewish day school as a child.

Danielle, who moved to South Florida from Long Island, NY, grew up in a Conservative family and attended Starlight, a Jewish sleep-away camp in Wayne County, PA, for nine years.

“I went to Hebrew school and I had a bat mitzvah, but I was never able to make my own Jewish connection and do anything because I wanted to,” Danielle said. “It was always because ‘this is what my family did and experienced,’ so by going on Birthright, I was able to really open my eyes and learn all these Jewish traditions.”

Carly and Danielle’s initial meeting in 2013 wasn’t romantic. Carly noted that while they liked each other’s company during the trip, there wasn’t any plan to be in a relationship at that time as they were in different places in their lives.

They became reacquainted in 2019 when Carly slid into Danielle’s Instagram DMs. They then became closer as a romantic couple during the pandemic, celebrating Jewish holidays together, often in isolation.

“That set the foundation of the rituals that we’re going to do,” Danielle said. “And whether it was Passover for the two of us – we did the Seders – or fasting on Yom Kippur, we felt If we we’re going to start now, we’ll do it forever.”

The couple also celebrates Shabbat and light candles every Friday.

Their wedding had cohorts from Birthright in attendance, including two of Danielle’s bridesmaids who were on the trip with them. The wedding was officiated by Rabbi Robyn Fisher, who led the Birthright trip in which the couple participated.

Carly and Danielle plan to raise a Jewish family and send their children to Jewish summer camp.

From left, Carly Klein and Danielle Greenbaum Klein of Hollywood FL, who both met at Birthright Israel trip in 2013, during their wedding in November 2022.

It’s not like we met at a bar. We met in Israel. Not many people can say that. ~ Carley Klein

The Fishmans from Philadelphia, PA

Not long after meeting on a Birthright Israel trip in December 2005, Rachel and Justin Fishman of Philadelphia ,PA starting dating each other.

Rachel and Justin, both 41, married in May 2009 and have three children, including twin 11-year old daughters and a 7-year-old son. They both work with youth from underserved communities in Philadelphia. Justin is also a U.S. Navy veteran and currently a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves.

Both Rachel and Justin feel it was special to meet for the first time at a Birthright Israel trip. “I was there with my sister and a couple of my friends, and Rachel was there with her cousin and a couple of her friends,” Justin said.

“I view it as a turning point for at least my life in terms of growing up, figuring out what to do and what’s important to me. That all started with me meeting Rachel.”

Rachel said, “Finding someone to share my life with who is Jewish on Birthright is something that was important to me.”

“ It created a really nice foundation for our family on something that is very important, which is having Judaism be a part of our children’s lives, as our kids go to a Jewish day school now.” Rachel noted that although Judaism was a big part of her family growing up, she grew up in a very small town in Ohio and there weren’t many children she grew up with who were Jewish. “I alway felt like a an outcast, so this trip was the first time in my life I had been surrounded by Jewish people,” she said. “ It was a really comfortable thing.”

While Justin didn’t grow up with a strong Jewish background, he wants his children to have the opportunity to have a Jewish education and make it a strong part of their lives. He looks back at the trip as the pivotal moment that changed the trajectory of both his and Rachel’s lives.

“My wife was able to start a stable family and have children, and it helped me figure out what drives me and what’s my purpose,” he said. “That’s what the trip did for us. Hopefully our kids see what’s important to Rachel and I and how stable our relationship is, and we hope to be a model to them as they grow up and eventually find their own partners.”

Rachel said, “I had been to Israel before when I was younger with my family, while Justin had not, and for people growing up Jewish in America, I think it’s so important to go to Israel.”

“I hope to find more time there as we get older and as our children get older,” she continued.”I think the trip itself has this amazing love story from it, and that also makes Israel that much more of a special place.”

Visit for more information on the trips.

Rachel and Justin Fishman of Philadelphia, PA with their three children.

“I had been to Israel before when I was younger with my family, while Justin had not, and for people growing up Jewish in America, I think it’s so important to go to Israel.”
~ Rachel Fishman

The Konhauzers from Boca Raton, FL

It was instant love for both Liana and Kyle Konhauzer of Boca Raton, FL when they met each other on a Birthright Israel Mayanot trip in June 2010 as University of Central Florida students. Although they were both UCF students at the time, Liana, 33, and Kyle, 35, never met each other before the trip. Liana had attended JNF-USA’s alternative spring break and was therefore ineligible for Birthright, so she staff-led the trip with Chabad at UCF and met Kyle there.

Liana and Kyle got married in June 2014. They have a little boy named Jackson, who already has a Plant Your Way fund within JNF-USA.

Kyle said meeting Liana on the trip “was super meaningful.”

“How unexpected is it that on your first trip ever to Israel, you find your future wife,” he said. Liana, who is JNF-USA’s associate director, South Florida, said she feels 100 percent that this trip strengthened both her and her husband’s already strong Jewish identities and devotion to Israel.

“It’s definitely why I wanted to pursue a career in the Jewish communal field, because I had such a special experience meeting Kyle on the trip and I want other people to be able to not just have the opportunity to potentially meet their spouses, but to meet their lifelong friends and make connections,” she said. “When I raise money for Israel, which is what I do at JNF-USA, it’s personal.”

Kyle is an attorney whose firm, Kanner & Pintaluga in Boca Raton, is sponsoring JNF-USA’s Lawyers for Israel Society’s events for the entire season. He said the trip was certainly meaningful in developing his Jewish identity.

“We now have a two-year old that’s been in day care at a temple for basically his entire life,” he said. “I went to Hebrew school, a Jewish high school and Jewish summer camps, so it[trip] definitely reinforced me in wanting to have the same upbringing for our little guy.”

Kyle and Liana Konhauzer of Boca Raton, FL at the Western Wall in Israel.

“How unexpected is it that on your first trip ever to Israel, you find your future wife.”
~Kyle Konhauzer

The Steinbergs from Scottsdale, AZ

A friendship formed among two young professionals during a weeklong trip in Israel eventually turned romantic.

In 2016, Dr. Josh and Gabby Steinberg of Scottsdale, AZ met each other in JNF-USA’s Jewish Volunteer Vacation (JVV), a weeklong trip in Israel where young professionals ages 22-40 from across the U.S. spent their time volunteering at the organization’s philanthropic sites across Israel.

Josh, 33, and Gabby, 34, started dating each other after the trip, got married in October 2021, and are expecting a baby in February.

Josh, who is a dentist, was so inspired by this trip, that he became a leader within JNF-USA and now serves as a member of the organization’s National JNFuture Board of Directors and is a member of the JNFuture Board of Directors in Arizona.

“JVV changed our lives,” Josh said. “Our trip hashtag was “#lovegrowsinisrael but little did we know how literal it was. Over the week of volunteering, not only did our connection to Israel blossom but so did our relationship. Six years later, we are still very involved with Jewish National Fund-USA, and that was rooted with JVV. We recommend anyone looking for their
beshert to spend the week with other volunteer focused individuals helping the land of Israel.”

Gabby, who works in public health, is involved in JNF-USA’s Disabilities Task Force, where she
is most active in Special in Uniform.

Both Josh and Gabby are grateful they were able to meet and start a lasting bond on the trip.

“I think one of the things I always believed in is if you do good things, you’ll find other people who do good things too,” Josh said. “I think that’s why we were both on a volunteer trip. There were other people who had similar values.”

Gabby said this trip allowed them to experience Israel and visit places that they wouldn’t typically go to as normal tourists.

“To also meet Josh in it was icing on the cake,” she said.

The Steinbergs feel the trip helped to strengthen their already strong Jewish identities.
“I think any trip to Israel can definitely do that, as well as finding someone who shares your same values and love for Israel,” Gabby said.

Josh said, “ I think JNF is a way in which we feel we’re doing something in helping out Israel, even though we’re not living there in Israel.”

“We’re helping the people who live there,” he continued.

Both Gabby and Josh plan to introduce their child to JNF-USA at an appropriate age. They also plan to send their child to a Jewish preschool.

Visit to learn more about the organization’s upcoming missions to Israel.

Dr. Josh and Gabby Steinberg of Scottsdale, AZ volunteering during a Jewish National Fund-USA mission trip in Israel.

“Our trip hashtag was “#lovegrowsinisrael but little did we know how literal it was. Over the week
of volunteering, not only did our connection to Israel blossom but so did our relationship.” ~ Josh

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