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He Was the ‘Buli’ to Her ‘Schmuli’

When Avital Epstein and Gal Cassif met six years ago, they quickly realized they had something in common: rhyming nicknames. His, “Buli,” came from childhood. Hers, “Schmuli,” was coined when she was an adult. Their friends loved it.

“I tried to fight it,” Ms. Epstein said. “But no one listened. Now our close friends call us Bulz and Schmulz.”

Originally from Aventura, Fla., Ms. Epstein, 31, now lives with Mr. Cassif in his native Tel Aviv, “which is pretty funny because my parents are Israelis who made their way to the States,” she said. “I am first generation American, and here I am having made the opposite move.”

Mr. Cassif, 33, graduated from Reichman Universitywith a degree in communications. He is a project manager for Breeze Creative, which is based in Bnei Atarot, Israel. Ms. Epstein, who graduated from Florida State University with a degree in motion picture arts, is a creative marketing manager at Crazy Labs, a Tel Aviv-based company that develops and publishes mobile games.

The two met during a trip Ms. Epstein took to Tel Aviv to visit family in the summer of 2015. They were at a birthday party for one of Mr. Cassif’s friends, who is also a friend of Ms. Epstein’s second cousin’s husband. “I was immediately drawn to her,” Mr. Cassif said. “I thought she was cute and had a fun energy.”

From then on, Ms. Epstein said, “we pretty much spent the rest of my trip together.”

“At first, he probably didn’t understand like half of what I was saying, and we’re both pretty sure that was what made us work,” she added jokingly.

Credit…Tom Saimon
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Ms. Epstein, who was living in Los Angeles when they met, reached out to Mr. Cassif via social media after returning from the trip. They then texted and had video dates, although, they said, it wasn’t serious at that point.

“We obviously felt there was a connection,” Ms. Epstein said, “but didn’t know where it would go.”

The next summer, Ms. Epstein went back to Israel, where she officially relocated to in August 2016 when she accepted a Tel Aviv-based job in television development and moved in with Mr. Cassif. “It was a practical decision,” he said of their choice to live together. “But my heart told me things were moving in the right direction.”

A proposal came almost four years later, in June 2020, at the Beresheet hotel in the Negev Desert. The morning they became engaged, Mr. Cassif told Ms. Epstein that he had a surprise for her.

“Gal told me to pack my bags,” she said. “At first, I thought he was joking. He told me it was a ‘just because’ surprise, to get out of the city and relax. Of course, I had a feeling something was happening. That evening, he popped the question.”

The couple were married at Ray, an event hall in Tel Aviv, on Nov. 4, three days after travel to Israel opened up to tourists on Nov. 1. About a dozen of Ms. Epstein’s friends and family from the United States were among the 240 guests.

The bride and groom were each escorted to the huppah by both of their parents. She wore a customized Pronovias gown, while he donned a navy suit, white shirt and a goose feather bow tie. Most of the guests stood for the ceremony performed by Rabbi Ariel Konstantyn of the Tel Aviv International Synagogue.

After the breaking of the glass, guests stepped into the huppah to congratulate the couple and then passed through into the reception.

Following a seated dinner, attendees were treated to a dessert bar in lieu of a cake. Two signature cocktails were served — the Bulz and Schmulz — and the dancing went on until 2 a.m.

“It was magnificent,” Mr. Cassif said. “There was a lot of lifting up on the shoulders on the dance floor. It was just like an explosion of energy.”

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