By Rachel Stern Siegman
Every year, students from across North America choose to travel to Israel to study medicine at the Technion American Medical School (TeAMS) in Haifa, affording them the opportunity to learn from Nobel Prize-winning scientists and doctors. For two such students, TeAMS had the additional perk of igniting a blossoming love story.
When Stuart Gensler, hailing from Maryland, and Yocheved Kramer, of New Jersey, decided to apply to the Technion American Medical School, they knew that joining the medical field would drastically change their lives. The medical profession requires steadfast dedication, and the study of medicine involves many hours of extremely hard work. What they didn’t know was that the sunny beaches of Haifa would not only bring them an unparalleled education, but also love.
They had just received their acceptance letters when a friend of both of them suggested that the two meet. “Initially, I was a little scared,” Yocheved says with a giggle. “I wondered, ‘What if we end up in the same class and it doesn’t work out?’” However, after a bit of deliberation, Yocheved decided that Stuart seemed like the type of guy she couldn’t pass up, and agreed to go out with him. The two began to date and it was soon clear that they were a perfect match. “She’s just so fun to be around,” Stuart says. “Choosing Technion was definitely a life-changing decision for me; otherwise I may have missed out on the love of my life.” Stuart’s and Yocheved’s love of biology quickly turned into instant chemistry, and the two were wedded only a few weeks before the start of classes.
Stuart’s sights were set on Technion because of its stellar scholastic reputation as well as the draw of living in Israel. Yocheved explains that it was the personal connections made with the staff that made Technion her top choice. “I had always wanted to study in Israel,” Yocheved recalls. “When I reached out to the various American medical programs here, the responses I got were very different. Technion bent over backwards to answer every one of my questions with warmth and friendliness. The reputable program is what drew me in, but it was their warmth and friendliness that really won me over.”
The newlyweds have settled into their new home in Haifa and, despite a whirlwind of activity, the couple says starting their life together in Israel was an easy transition. “We really feel that we have a community of likeminded individuals here who we enjoy sharing Shabbat and holidays with,” explains Stuart.
Additionally, the couple feel that they have had the opportunity to immerse with the sabras in the community as well. “We have really amazing neighbors who were so excited that a newlywed American couple moved in; they really try to go out of their way to make us feel a part of the culture here,” Yocheved says. This warm welcome includes a consistent delivery of home-baked goods as well as decorations their neighbors’ children have made for their door. “We’re working on our Hebrew with them,” Yocheved concludes. “It’s a bonding experience.”
In between moving and marriage, the new couple also finds time to study together. “We really have the best of both worlds; we spend all day together, we sit next to one another in class, and it happens to be that we complement each other a lot in terms of studying,” explains Stuart. “We’re each invested in the other person doing well.”
As medical school progresses, both Stuart and Yocheved express their commitment to the challenges that the next four years will bring and their gratitude that they have one another for every step of the process. “Stuart comes with a more clinical background, as he worked in emergency medical services for many years, whereas I have more of a broad science background, so we really are each other’s best study partners,” the glowing newlywed states.
Stuart and Yocheved’s transitions simply constitute the beginning of many milestones to come. “Medical school is hard work, but knowing that you’re working toward a goal is satisfying,” concludes Yocheved. “The support and warmth we have received both from our professors and our classmates confirms that there is no place we’d rather be.” v