In the summer of 2009, single after the breakup of an eight-year relationship, Jonathan Fuchs attended a wedding. Afterward he prayed he would soon meet his life partner. And if he happened to be Jewish? Even better.
Fuchs didn’t know he would make contact with his intended the very next day.
That evening, Larry Rand, 44, who directs perinatal services at the UCSF Fetal Treatment Center (See J. cover story “Labor of Love,” June 26, 2014), was writing abstracts for a conference. Fairly new to San Francisco at the time — he was born in Germany and raised in Brooklyn — he took a break from work to create a profile on JDate. He had fallen away from Judaism as an adult, but now he wanted to meet a Jewish man.
Within an hour, he received a message from Fuchs, also a physician. Originally from New Jersey, Fuchs, 45, came to San Francisco for his medical residency in 1997, receiving a master’s in public health and going on to direct the Center for Learning and Innovation in Public Health at the Center for AIDS Research at UCSF.
Neither man had dated online before, and Fuchs, who much preferred the phone to email, gave Rand his phone number.
“What do you mean ‘call you?’ We don’t know each other, I can’t call a stranger,” Rand thought. In his mind, they would write back and forth for a while. He also was afraid of rejection. In his words, “I freaked out.”
They exchanged messages over the next few days, with Fuchs gently prodding Rand to call. When Rand finally summoned up his courage, Fuchs was sitting in Dolores Park, enjoying the warm August evening.
“From the moment he said this big ‘Hi,’ I melted,” said Rand. Within the hour, he came to meet Fuchs, and they spent the evening getting to know each other under the stars.
After Yom Kippur services six weeks later, Rand left Congregation Emanu-El to look for Fuchs at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav’s break-the-fast. When Rand found him, he told Fuchs, “This is it for me.” He was the one.
“Larry is truly my companion,” said Fuchs. “He’s my ally, my great supporter, my confidant, my challenger, my mentee and mentor all in one. He embodies all of that for me. And he makes me laugh a lot.”
Said Rand: “It’s very simple to say, but I use this word on purpose, I have never met anyone as good as Jonathan. That goodness is something pure and something to really live up to, and defines who he is and the basis of our relationship. I want to be around that always, and it’s such a good influence, as it sets the tone for everything.”
In 2011, Rand moved in with Fuchs, and in 2014, they bought a new home and were contemplating marriage. Marrying in 2014 would give them a significant tax break, their accountant advised. So Rand took action. On the second night of Hanukkah,Rand placed wedding bands on the tea lights they used as candles in their hanukkiah.
Not long after, they were at a New Year’s Eve party at the Forestville home of friends when they asked everyone to gather in the living room. “I think they thought it was some kind of intervention,” he said.
Instead, the couple announced they were getting married. “When?” their friends excitedly asked. Aaron Danzig, who earlier had been designated to officiate, jumped up and said: “Right now!” Danzig quickly assigned the roles of ring bearer, flower girl and witness.
When word of the wedding got out on Facebook, friends and family who had missed the big day were disappointed, to say the least. So the couple decided they would hold their “real” wedding on the Big Island of Hawaii. They married on Aug. 16 at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, with Rabbi Sydney Mintz and Cantor Marsha Attie of S.F. Congregation Emanu-El officiating. Attie led the singing of nigguns, guests chanted with her during the signing of the ketubah, and each man was escorted simultaneously by family members down separate aisles. Mintz delivered the priestly blessing as they wrapped one another in new tallits they had bought for the occasion.
During their vows, Rand invoked his late father, who was orphaned in the Holocaust, and promised Fuchs to make certain “that the amazing love you show me every day — and the pure spirit and energy that you put into this world — find their way right back to you.”
And Fuchs promised Rand “to be both your greatest fan and toughest adversary; your accomplice in mischief, and your partner in helping to repair the world, in ways big and small.”
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