Tu B’Av: A Jewish Love Story Over a Decade in the Making
For Tu B'Av, we share the love story of two young Moldovan Jewish people whose romance was interwoven with their participation in and leadership of the JDC-supported Jewish community of B?l?i.
By Alina & Dima Groisman | August 4, 2020
The Jewish holiday of Tu B’Av is a chance to celebrate love. In that spirit, we’re excited to share this love story with you. Alina and Dima’s love story is interwoven with their participation in and leadership of the JDC-supported Jewish community of B?l?i, Moldova.
Alina Groisman, 23: I came to the Jewish community when I was 4 years old, brought in by my grandmother, a client of the JDC-supported Hesed social welfare center in B?l?i. She’s still an active participant of the Hesed’s day center programming, though that’s obviously on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. My parents are active members of the Family Club and have participated in the annual community summer family retreat for six years now.
When I grew up, I became an active member of our “Moadon Lemanhigut” (Leadership Club), serving as a madricha (counselor) since 2014. In 2015, our club got a new name — “Pikajew” — and became part of Active Jewish Teens (AJT), the JDC teen network in the former Soviet Union (FSU) in partnership with BBYO and the Genesis Philanthropy Group. I became the head of the teen club in 2016 and still serve in that role today. From 2018 to 2019, I was also the coordinator of the JDC volunteer center in B?l?i.
Dima Groisman, 24: I’ve been a member of our city’s Jewish community as long as I can remember. After my parents participated in a family camp in 2001, they became active and introduced me to Jewish culture, too. My mom became a madricha at the family camp, and she went on to become the coordinator of the Mazal Tov pre-school program and then the coordinator for all JCC programs. My dad used to be the chairman of the Board for our Hesed. My sister Yulia is 19, and she’s very involved, too — an active AJT member coordinating programs and leading some really special projects. I see great things for her in the future.
For me, the annual summer family retreats allowed me to prove myself. At 14, I became one of the co-leaders of our youth club, and in 2015, I was incredibly honored by the chance to represent the B?l?i community at JDC’s Board meetings in New York. Even when I had to leave the youth club to focus on my main job, leading a factory team producing spare parts for cars, I continued to be an active participants in the Jewish community.
Alina: Today, our B?l?i teen club has 40 members, with 25 participating each week. Before the pandemic, we’d gather twice a week — on Friday, for Shabbat services and classes led by the club leader, and on Sunday, for special projects coordinated by our teens. Once quarantine began, we moved everything online, with seven projects a week: one lesson taught by me, two master classes, a special Shabbat with AJT, and a joint havdalah with the “Haverim” AJT teen club two hours south of us in Chisinau. We closed for the season in early July, but I’m excited for us to start back up in September.
Dima: But you want to hear how we fell in love, right? It all started when we were kids, always teasing each other and running after each other. That continued until Alina was 15 and I was 16, when she went to study in Israel and it was difficult to keep in touch. After she left, we somehow went six months without speaking until one day we chatted online and fell right back into it. That summer, Alina came back to B?l?i — we started dating, and she decided to leave her Israel program and return to Moldova in 2014. We’ve been together ever since!
On June 29, 2019, we got married. It was fantastic! Some of the most memorable moments were the video greetings from our relatives and friends from different countries, especially former members of the youth club who now live outside of Moldova. We also received greetings from our friends in America — Jews from the Greensboro Jewish Federation in North Carolina, whose support has enabled us to organize summer camps for our community for two decades. (This summer would have been the special 20th-anniversary edition of the camp, but the pandemic had other plans for us.) And the Pikajew members we invited were definitely the happiest and liveliest wedding guests we had.
Alina: Most likely, none of us have met a prince on a white horse or a princess with long curly hair in real life. However, that doesn’t mean — at all — that there’s no room for fairy-tale love in our lives. Until you truly fall in love, the idea that you can spend your entire life with the same person seems hard to fathom. But as soon as you meet that ‘right’ person, you can’t think about anything else. You devote yourself to your partner until the end of your days.
I can honestly say that I met my prince. The most peaceful place in the world for me is next to Dima. It’s still difficult for me to describe in words the harmony between us.
The Jewish community is such an integral part of our story.Dima Groisman
Dima: The Jewish community is such an integral part of our story. It gave us the opportunity to develop as leaders and be part of a global Jewish family. The wonderful people at the B?l?i Hesed have always supported us and are forever next to us in our happy and sad moments.
As the leaders of the youth club, Alina and I traveled to different countries and met many wonderful people. Thanks to JDC, the wonderful AJT network has emerged, which has continued to bring together Jewish teenagers from different countries. The family retreats supported by JDC and the Jewish community of Greensboro helped define what summer means to our community.
As Alina and I continue to build our lives together, the Jewish community will always keep the warmest place in our hearts and memories.