Even the Army Couldn’t Keep Them Apart

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

Four days after meeting on the dating app J-Swipe in October 2020, Sharon Leona Poczter and Rabbi Michael Geoffrey Cohen told their parents that they were going to get married.

They had not yet met in person, as there were hundreds of miles between them.

Dr. Poczter, 42, an associate professor at Yeshiva University and the chair of its strategy and entrepreneurship department, was living in Brooklyn. Rabbi Cohen, 37, was a chaplain in the U.S. Army stationed in Savannah, Ga.

“My parents, to some extent, were shocked,” said Dr. Poczter, who holds a Ph.D. in business economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cornell University. But “they were also happy for me, and totally trusted my judgment.”

Dr. Poczter, who had “dated a lot” by then, added that after days of talking on FaceTime and the phone with Rabbi Cohen “nonstop,” something about him gave her a “sense of safety.”

Rabbi Cohen, whose first marriage of three years ended in divorce in 2017, said Dr. Poczter’s education and profession had impressed him when he read her dating profile, along with the fact that she “seemed very transparent, like, ‘This is who I am.’”

Inspired to be equally forthright, “I told her just that — how very impressed I was,” said Rabbi Cohen. From Nashville, Tenn., he is a graduate of Brandeis University and earned a master’s degree in Hebrew letters and a certificate in Jewish nonprofit management at Hebrew Union College, where he was ordained.

Dr. Poczter, who grew up on Long Island, said Rabbi Cohen “is multilayered in so many surprising ways,” citing his work as a rabbi and time in the Army, which included a psychological operations course at Fort Bragg’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

“Those two jobs do not normally go together,” she said.

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

Their first date, in November 2020, “lasted 10 days,” Dr. Poczter said. They met in Longboat Key, Fla., where they stayed in a condo owned by her parents, who were not there, and celebrated Thanksgiving together.

From Florida, Rabbi Cohen went back to Brooklyn with Dr. Poczter. He never exactly left, because from then he lived between her place and his apartment in Savannah until he finished his military contract. In August 2021, he was honorably discharged from the Army, and officially moved in with Dr. Poczter.

After 14 years as a military chaplain, transitioning to civilian life at first felt “different and difficult,” said Rabbi Cohen, who is now the rabbi of Central Synagogue – Beth Emeth in Rockville Centre, N.Y. “I was used to a regimen,” he added.

Earlier that year, in March, he and Dr. Poczter became engaged in the backyard of their home in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. Also there were Lobo, their 5-year-old German shepherd, and Smokey, their 8-year-old terrier mix, who had the engagement ring tied to his collar.

Rabbi Cohen said that “the ring went flying” when Dr. Poczter removed it, causing him to spring to action. “I left my feet and made a dive for it and caught it before it got lost in the grass.”

They were married on March 6, exactly one year after becoming engaged, at The Resort at Longboat Key Club in Longboat Key. Rabbi Philip Rice, a friend of the couple, officiated before 60 vaccinated guests, including Dr. Poczter’s parents and Rabbi Cohen’s mother and her partner; his father is deceased.

“We were meant for each other,” the bride said. “When you know, you just know.”

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