Aaron: Mazel Tov on your engagement. How did you propose?
Matt: I had some help from some friends at the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office, where I clerked during spring (I’m in law school). My kallah, Sumi, and I went to the Cherry Blossom Festival and ran into a “stranger”—Henry—who asked Sumi to sit down so his art student girlfriend could draw a portrait of Sumi in front of the Washington Monument. Henry then told Sumi that the portrait would be better if she wore a funny hat and a feather boa. Sumi did not even notice that I was on one knee next to her when I said, “I think the portrait would look better if you wore an engagement ring.” Sumi was so surprised when I asked her to marry me that she responded with “Yes, of course! Wait, is this a joke?” Hilarity ensued.
Aaron: Who was the first person you told about being engaged?
Matt: There was actually a big group of friends from Kesher Israel and the Public Defender’s Office around when I proposed so I guess they were the first to know. After that we called both our families. Everyone was super excited for us, and Sumi’s mom told me about the importance of marriage as a commitment to her family.
Aaron: What is it like being engaged?
Matt: It is a lot of work planning a wedding and sometimes Sumi and my mom feel the need to ask my opinion, which forces me to pretend to care about the specifics. Honestly, I’m more interested in being married than getting married. On the other hand, it should be fun—we are thinking about a Rudyard Kipling-themed wedding because we have photos of ourselves with nearly every animal in The Jungle Book (yes, even tigers).
Aaron: We heard you were in law school. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Matt: When I was in fourth grade, I taught a class in “How to be a Lawyer” based on my extensive experience watching “Perry Mason” and reading You be the Jury. With one year left until I take the Bar, I can honestly say that I am closer than ever to achieving my lifelong dream. When I was really young, I wanted to be either a secret agent or a clown. I often unintentionally make people laugh during legal meetings so I guess I am in the ball park of the clown profession.
Aaron: If you could invite two famous Jews to your Shabbat table, who would they be?
Matt: My first choice is our man in Damascus, Eli Cohen, who was an Israeli spy in the 1960s, because he had really interesting life story that met a tragic end. He convinced the Syrians to plant trees next to their forts in the Golan Heights ostensibly to provide shade to the soldiers. In reality, the Israeli Air Force used the trees as targets during the Six Day War. Cohen was pretty ingenious and was third in the Syrian government before counter-espionage caught him transmitting information to Israel. I would also have Joshua and Caleb from the Torah at my table because they began Jewish espionage by spying on the locals before the conquest of Canaan. The group could trace the evolution of Jewish espionage from the Land of Canaan to the recent past.
Aaron: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Matt: Definitely Purim. Who doesn’t like drinking, dressing in funny costumes, and laughing at crazy shpiels?