Jewish networking event stirs up love connection

Jacqueline and Matt’s lives were forever changed when they accompanied friends to a summer cocktail party thrown by the Jewish Chamber of Commerce, a division of YAD Montreal.

On a warm June evening in 2013, Jacqueline Hopmeyer was finishing up her work day when she received a phone call from a friend requesting a favour: “Would you be my wing-woman at a networking cocktail tonight?” The party was the Jewish Chamber of Commerce (JCC) Summer Cocktail, and Jacqueline was more than happy to attend, even throwing on a cute pair of heels. On the other end of town, Matt Goldsmith received a similar request: His friend wanted to go meet new people and suggested a business networking cocktail. Matt, a self-proclaimed “wing-man-extraordinaire”, was game.

The annual YAD Montreal event brings together young professionals from all walks of life looking to network and enjoy a few drinks together. Upon arrival, Jacqueline took note of a certain young man. “He was cute. He was in a suit. And I could tell he was taller than me, even in my heels!” The handsome man and his friend made their way over. A small game of “Jewish geography” ensued, at which point the foursome realized they had mutual friends, and, it being a networking cocktail, they all exchanged business cards.

As the evening progressed, Matt realized two things: First, he really liked Jacqueline. Second, if he didn’t ask her out, his friend would. “Thankfully my buddy is an understanding guy,” Matt laughs, “because I went as his wing man, and ended up needing to ask his permission to ask her out.”

As the relationship grew, Matt began accompanying Jacqueline to more community events. He had a strong Jewish background, but had not quite forged his own identity as a Jewish adult. “I used to go to events with my friends,” reflects Matt, “but I was not an active participant in the community. Getting involved with her really took me to the next level, and it all came together with Poland.” Last spring, Jacqueline heard that Federation CJA was planning a Young Adult Mission to Poland and Israel. Having just gotten engaged, the couple had been chatting about a fun trip to Portugal… but Poland?

“I had always wanted to go see Poland, and pay tribute to those who were lost during the Holocaust, and for a number of reasons it never panned out,” recalls Jacqueline, “But when this incredible opportunity presented itself, I knew if I didn’t go now – while survivors are still alive – then I’d always regret it.”

Matt and Jacqueline visit Poland during Federation CJA’s Young Adult Mission.

Matt and Jacqueline visit Poland during Federation CJA’s Young Adult Mission.

And so, Jacqueline and Matt decided to forgo Portugal, and spend their vacation in a much more emotionally taxing – but unbelievably important – way. While they saw firsthand the devastation of the Holocaust, they also had the privilege of meeting and travelling with survivors; they made powerful friendships; and began to forge a Jewish identity as a couple. And when they finally left Poland and landed in Israel, they celebrated their recent engagement, their future, and the future of the Jewish people. As a volunteer and canvasser for nearly a decade, Jacqueline particularly loved visiting Beer Sheva, and getting to experience firsthand how the dollars raised by Combined Jewish Appeal are put to use in our sister city.

“Participating on the trip together was amazing,” reflects Jacqueline. “We plan to raise our kids in a Jewish household with Jewish values, so in a lot of ways, this was a very fitting way to begin our next chapter.”

Matt and Jacqueline will be married this summer in Montreal. In attendance will be new friends from the YAD Mission to Poland and Israel – and, of course, the dear friends who encouraged them to attend the JCC Cocktail that fateful evening in 2013, when Jacqueline and Matt networked their way into each other’s hearts.

Leave a Reply