Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy of “Pride and Prejudice.” Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler of “Gone With the Wind.” Allie and Noah of “The Notebook.”
People always fall hard for a great love story. Romance novels are among the best-selling literary genres of all time.
But great love stories don’t only exist within the realm of fiction. That’s apparent when you meet Northwest Baltimore residents David Schimmel and Jill Rombro Marenberg.
“Jill is caring, incredibly family-oriented, strong-willed and knows exactly what she wants,” says Schimmel 48, who served as director of Beth Tfiloh Camps for 11 years before becoming vice president of campaign affinities at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore last September. “She is extremely caring of me and has a good soul, which is exactly what I needed.”
Schimmel and Marenberg’s courtship began in December of 2017 after she messaged him on the Jewish dating application JSwipe. She went back on the app a few weeks later, and that’s when she saw a return message from Schimmel.
“I wrote back and told him I was getting off the app but I would love to hear from him,” says Marenberg, 37, a personal injury lawyer. “He called me soon after and we went to BlueStone [restaurant] for our first date.”
It wasn’t until their second date that Marenberg decided that Schimmel was definitely a keeper.
“I had a few errands to run before our date, so I was going to meet David after,” recalls Marenberg. “But David said he would go with me, and he was really into helping me pick out a new dog coat. That’s when I knew he was awesome.”
After that second date, the relationship really took off. By January of 2018, Schimmel, a native of Sarasota, Fla., knew for certain that he wanted Marenberg in his life.
“I was taking tennis lessons, and David had played tennis, so he ended up joining my tennis group so we could spend time together on the court,” says Marenberg, a Pikesville native. “I’m just so happy I found this man.”
On Dec. 15, 2018, Schimmel asked Marenberg to marry him outside of her favorite restaurant, Ginza Japanese Steak House in Cockeysville. It was a stormy night so he wasn’t able to get down on one knee without getting soaking wet, which the couple now laughs about. A limo then pulled up to take them to BlueStone, where their families were waiting to celebrate their engagement.
“I had a feeling he was going to propose, but the way he set it all up was really impressive and I was surprised,” says Marenberg. “David knows what I am thinking and what I want before I have to say anything, sometimes even before I do. He just really gets me.”
Perhaps what makes their love story particularly poignant and noteworthy is that for Schimmel, Marenberg is the second great love of his life.
“I was already lucky enough to have found a wonderful woman, have two wonderful kids and a wonderful marriage of 20 years,” says Schimmel, whose wife, Laurie, passed away from breast cancer in July of 2017 at the age of 45. “I am now blessed to have this second chance at love, marriage and family with Jill.”
Schimmel’s daughter, Allison, is now a freshman at the University of Maryland, while his son, Jacob, is a freshman at Pikesville’s Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community Day School. Schimmel says his kids couldn’t be any happier to welcome Marenberg into their family.
For Marenberg, who has never been previously married, her top priority is to keep Laurie’s memory alive.
“I’m not here to replace their mother; I’m here to be a part of their family,” she says. “David’s kids have been so accepting and just want him to be happy. Laurie’s parents are at every holiday or family event, and we make sure to talk about her during everyday conversations. David’s desire to find love again and be happy is what made everyone feel comfortable.”
While finding true love again after such devastating loss can be challenging, Schimmel and Marenberg believe that communication is the key to making their relationship work.
“We are open and honest about everything,” says Marenberg. “Nothing is held back, and we are very comfortable with each other.”
With a summer wedding now on the horizon, Marenberg and Schimmel say they can’t wait to tie the knot and continue living their life living happily ever after.
“It was really important for me to find someone who is respectful, kind and actually cares about me,” says Marenberg. “David is all of those things.”
Says David: “My perspective on life is to enjoy every moment and every day. I try to be positive about everything. You don’t choose your circumstances, but you can choose not to give up and still have love in your life.”
Aliza Friedlander is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.