Sitting through an entire Shabbat service next to his girlfriend was nerve-racking for Brian Posner. That’s because he was carrying a big ring in his pocket and a big secret.
Posner and Michelle Akerman met at Washington Hebrew Congregation’s 2239 monthly Metro Minyan Shabbat community a year-and-half ago. On April 25, Posner proposed at Metro Minyan, in front of everyone.
The simcha happened with the help of Rabbi Aaron Miller, who altered the service to accommodate the proposal. They planned and strategized for months before the big night.
“He wanted to do it during the simchas because that’s the only good, only appropriate time during Metro Minyan to do something like this,” Miller recalled.
But Miller knew that once the engagement announcement occurred, the service would be over – everyone would be too emotional to continue and would want to start celebrating. Miller intentionally skipped over the simchas that normally take place during the middle of the service to make it seem like he had forgotten them, instead saving the regular feature for the end.
After everyone else spoke about their simchas, Posner leaned over to Akerman and asked if he should share the news about his new job. She said yes. But then, instead of announcing his new job, Posner proposed.
“The nerves were high,” Posner said, looking back. “Once you get up, there’s no going back. It’s kind of like jumping out of a plane with a parachute, skydiving. You know you’ve got to go through with it once you are up at that altitude. You just do it – so I was very nervous.”
Miller described the scene this way: “Everyone burst into applause and cheers, and tears were just streaming down people’s faces. It was such a beautiful moment. And then for a closing song we started singing “Siman Tov U’Mazal Tov” and the people got up and started dancing around the room. I was not anticipating that, but it was such a joyful moment.”
As Posner and Akerman walked into the room for Shabbat dinner, everyone raised their champagne glasses in toast and shouted “L’chaim!”
“Incredible relief” is how Posner described his emotions after popping the question. “Everything was just kind of surreal. Very happy. It felt very communal with everything. Very joyous.”