Every Jew knows that the eleventh commandment given from GD on Mount Sinai was “Thou Shalt Mingle”. Well at least I know that, and have been taking it very seriously all my life. There is nothing better than talking to people, hearing their stories and broadening your knowledge, perspectives and pool of connections.

This past weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to Friday night dinner by Liah and Yonit, my friends from Shul, and a recently happily-married couple. Yonit works as a tour guide and specializes in Birthright groups. She’s also an extremely sweet and welcoming human being and consistently invites members from groups she had led to join her and Lea’s Shabbos table.

I never expected that on the chair next to me would be sitting the fabulous Eliana Girard, winner of the ninth season of the reality dance competition – So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD). This encounter was grand even before we exchanged even one word. I myself was a contestant on the Israeli version of the show (“Born to Dance”) in 2006. My experiences at the show were something I stopped talking about, until the surprising happenings of joining the production of West Side Story (which shall be featured in a separate post).

When I joined the show, I discovered that Rona-Lee Shimon, a dominant contestant from the same season of the Israeli show, and whose career took off following the show, was given the part of Anita. Additionally, the director was no other than Tzedi Tzarfati, one of the most renowned theater directors in Israel and a Judge on ‘Born to Dance’, all those years ago. Meeting these two individuals after a long break from the stage, and after a long breakaway from theater life, was no less than an omen, just like meeting Eliana.

Another funny happening was that I had watched (a video version of) ‘Cats’, the Musical, for the first time, earlier that week. Giving that it was such a good show for me to try to get in to, I looked up who was playing in the running Broadway revival of the show. I was specifically interested in who was playing Mistoffelees, the most challenging dance role in the show, and found out it was Ricky Ubeda, another winner of SYTYCD. Cut to – here I am passing salad and baba-ganush to Eliana Gerard, yet another winner of the show.

So heavenly providence had brought Eliana and myself to Yonit and Leah’s Shabbos-dinner table, but the deeper significance of meeting her at this time in my life (as in hers apparently), and in this week in particular, were just too awesome to be true. We spent the entire meal sharing life stories, experiences and advice, as it seems we are both going through a period of self search and change.

It’s not every day that such a crucial person falls into your life in the most opportune moment possible. I don’t even know what our next encounter is going to look like, but I know that we will meet and talk and share much more, very soon, as we have a short overlap while I’m still in Israel, and she’s making her first steps in checking out the Israeli dance scene and the diverse selection of Judaic studies institutes.

“Thou Shalt Mingle” sayeth GD.

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Photo-Credits: www.runningleappictures.com, Yochai Greenfeld

Montage: Yochai Greenfeld

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