Two of us with Maaryasha Werdiger and Shaya Rubinstein



Maaryasha Werdiger, 41, and Shaya Rubinstein, 38, have been married for 14 years. When he called late for their second Skype date, she thought he had lifted her – until she heard the crackle of an ambulance radio in the background.

Maaryasha Werdiger (left) and Shaya Rubinstein: “We share the desire to be faithful to Jewish life, but swim our own way.Credit:Joe armao

Maaryasha: We both grew up in Chabad, an Orthodox Jewish sect. A friend sent me an e-mail: “You must meet this guy. I thought that was ridiculous – he was in New York, I was in Melbourne – but I looked at Shaya’s MySpace profile. He was cute, we were in the same music. He was younger, but it didn’t matter; older guys can be babies anyway.

We made arrangements for Skype. He appeared on my screen with headphones on. He thought he was funny, pretending to come and get me on a motorbike. I thought, “Hmm, not that funny.” The second video date I thought I had been up and then he called and told me he had an accident. I didn’t believe him until I heard the ambulance in the background. Both of her legs were broken.

He had to take pain relievers, so we had some really bad conversations, but we were successful. I found myself talking to her all night, and after a week I knew we were getting married. After eight weeks he came to Australia walking with a cane. He proposed after two weeks and we got married three months later. It sounds crazy, but in our sect, marriage is the main goal. It’s okay to marry someone you don’t really know.

The things I loved then were the things I love now. He is nice. He does not judge. He will work on himself if he needs to. In the sect, many men are not so progressive. We are spiritually aligned. We raise our children [we have three sons] in a religious community because we love things like Shabbat, where we disconnect – no driving, no technology, just family time. But we reject things that we think are toxic. We are in the community in our own way, but neither of us fits in perfectly.

“If you keep working on yourself and want to get married, then you can be married. And if you don’t, you don’t. I am persistent. We just make it work.

We are both obsessive. I always try to perfect my baking and he has done the same with brewing and now medicinal cannabis. It causes chaos, but because we’re both like that, we enjoy it too. It’s tough with kids, careers, and marriage to make it all work, but every day we ask how to improve something – our home, our sanity.

I took the bakery out of our garage for a few years, but needed to get it out of the house. I opened a store this year. He left the brewery, a job he loved. He said, “Believe me, it will get better. And it’s. There was no way he could brew and I could cook. It’s the same: you start at 5 am, the equipment breaks, you are late. Now he does all the drop-offs and pick-ups.

We are different in many ways. My head is still elsewhere. I rush forward into a big mess; Shaya will read a textbook from head to toe. When he decided to make beer, he read a book about water. When he is with the children, he plays with them, holds their hands for hours. I still think of a hundred things.


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