A Funny Relationship (as in Funny Ha-Ha)

In December 2006, Bruce Matez invited Deena Betze, to join him at Congregation M’kor Shalom, in Cherry Hill, N.J. There was a rehearsal for the synagogue’s annual comedy and musical revue, and he thought Ms. Betze, a family lawyer at his firm, BorgerMatez, would enjoy it.

She accepted.

As soon as she walked in, she caught the eye of Larry Siegel, who was immediately struck by the “raven-haired beauty.” Not that he was in a position to do anything: He was married with two children, as was she.

Still, Mr. Siegel, 59, liked Ms. Betze, especially when he discovered that she could land a joke. “For every one I gave, she gave one back,” said Mr. Siegel, who runs MarketingFusion, a firm in Marlton, N.J. “It was delightful. We built up a really good rapport.”

Ms. Betze, 55, liked him, too. A “big humor snob,” she takes her comedy seriously. Her father, Monte Barry is a borscht belt comedian who performed in the Catskills in the 1950s and ‘60s.

“Larry has this great comedic sense,” she said. “He was a very generous performer. He’s a big personality. I found that very attractive.”

But they only saw each other once a year. They would joke around, do some bits together, and part ways.

In August 2013, Ms. Betze began a difficult divorce from her husband of 24 years. When Mr. Siegel saw her in October — along with her son Spencer Betze, who was in the revue that year — he thought she looked forlorn, “like she was having a really hard time,” he said.

In January 2015, Mr. Siegel separated from his wife of 30 years. By May, he decided he was ready to date, and Ms. Betze popped into his head. He asked their mutual friend, Mr. Matez, if Ms. Betze was available, but was told she was a bit of a mess.

In December, Ms. Betze once again performed in the synagogue show. During intermission, Mr. Siegel, who sat that year out, asked her how she was doing. Before she could respond, he blurted out, “I’m separated!”

“I said, ‘I’m so sorry to hear that,’” she said. But in her head she thought: “Interesting.”

After the show a small group, including Mr. Siegel, invited Ms. Betze to a bar. She was going to meet some girlfriends and declined. But as soon as she arrived at her destination, she reconsidered and zoomed back to Mr. Siegel. That night, the two connected on a deeper level, sharing their feelings about their marriages and divorce.

A week later, at their law firm holiday after-party, Ms. Betze confessed to Mr. Matez that she was ready for a real relationship. He told her that at least three men from the synagogue wanted to ask her out.

“Is one of them Larry Siegel?” she asked.

That was on a Friday. Two days later, Mr. Matez and Mr. Siegel went to an Philadelphia Eagles football game. On the drive home, Mr. Matez suggested Mr. Siegel ask Ms. Betze out. That night, Mr. Siegel sent her a Facebook message.

She ran it by her son, Spencer. “He said, ‘Is he the funny guy?’” I said yes. He said, ‘I think that would be good for you.’”

Originally, the couple planned to have a destination wedding with 50 guests in Akumal, Mexico, with an official service at their temple a week earlier. As a result of the lockdown, they called Mexico off.

On May 12, Rabbi Jennifer Frenkel performed the ceremony at their synagogue. Seven attendees watched in person, with more than 100 viewers on Facebook Live.

After, 30 friends and family in 16 cars surprised the couple and drove in formation into the parking lot. The couple arrived home to discover that Ms. Betze’s friends had decorated the house with balloons and signs. They hope to have a party in Mexico next year.

As for now, “I guess you can say while everyone else is quarantined, we’re just honeymooning in place,” Mr. Siegel said.

Source link