One day in June 2019, when Cecile Gray Bazelon went to see her cardiologist, she had matters of the heart on her mind. But she wasn’t focused on the physical heart, exactly. She wanted to set up her cousin Freda June Levenson with the doctor, Harvey Lee Goldberg.
Ms. Levenson remembers when Ms. Bazelon first mentioned Dr. Goldberg. “She said, ‘You know, Freda, I have this really handsome cardiologist,’” Ms. Levenson, 72, said. At the time, Dr. Goldberg and Ms. Levenson were both in their late 60s and widowed after decades-long marriages. Ms. Bazelon thought they would make a good couple.
So when Ms. Bazelon told Dr. Goldberg about her cousin, painting a glowing portrait of Ms. Levenson, he was intrigued. He gave her his number to pass along. Ms. Levenson texted him, and they ended up speaking on the phone for an hour. They talked about life, family and careers, discovering many common threads.
But there was one hiccup: Dr. Goldberg didn’t know that Ms. Levenson lived in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He had assumed that, like him, she also lived in New York City. But by the end of the phone call, when he realized he was talking to someone hundreds of miles away, “it was too late,” he said. He had fallen for her.
“By that time, we were fascinated,” Dr. Goldberg, 72, said. After that, they spoke on the phone every few days, until eventually they were talking every day.
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The next month, they had their first date. Ms. Levenson was visiting one of her sons in Manhattan, and she met Dr. Goldberg for dinner at a Greek restaurant in Midtown. After dinner, they went to see an Off Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish.
That October, Dr. Goldberg flew to Shaker Heights to attend Ms. Levenson’s annual Halloween celebration. At the party, “50 of her closest friends got to interrogate me,” Dr. Goldberg said. He brought his small dog, Bear, and wore red flip-flops, dressing up as Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz.”
About four months into dating, they had met all of each other’s children and started talking about marriage. “I think at first, it was more clear to me — because I’d been widowed significantly longer — that I wanted to be married again,” Ms. Levenson said. “I liked the feeling of being unified and in partnership with somebody. And I really missed that.” She was married to James Hill from 1982 until his death in 2016. Dr. Goldberg’s wife of 47 years, Robin Goldberg, died in 2018.
Less than a year into Dr. Goldberg and Ms. Levenson’s relationship, the Covid-19 pandemic began. In March 2020, when Dr. Goldberg’s office closed temporarily, he drove to Ohio to be with Ms. Levenson. After he isolated for two weeks in a separate space in her house, they lived together for another three weeks. They would have married sooner, but the pandemic made it difficult to have a safe gathering with all of their loved ones.
Originally, their matchmaker, Ms. Bazelon, an artist whom Ms. Levenson called “the matriarch” of the family, wanted them to be married in her apartment in Manhattan. But she died at 95 in January. She often said that bringing Ms. Levenson and Dr. Goldberg together was “the best thing” she had ever done.
On Sept. 10, the couple were married before 75 guests at the Cleveland Botanical Garden by Rabbi Roger C. Klein, from The Temple-Tifereth Israel. The ceremony featured a “parade of flower children,” Ms. Levenson said, referring to the couple’s grandchildren. A string quartet from Shaker Heights High School performed, and a reception followed in the garden. The couple’s first dance was to “These Arms of Mine” by Otis Redding, and when the song transitioned into “Dynamite” by BTS, they invited their grandchildren to the dance floor.
Ms. Levenson plans to stay in Shaker Heights, while Dr. Goldberg lives in New York, so that they can both continue to work. She is the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. He is a cardiologist at New York Cardiology Associates, an associate attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and a clinical associate professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Ms. Levenson has a bachelor’s degree in art history from Wellesley College in Massachusetts and a law degree from the University of Michigan. Dr. Goldberg has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from M.I.T. and a medical degree from Weill Cornell Medicine.
They plan on visiting each other often. “Her son lives in New York, and her favorite husband lives in New York,” Dr. Goldberg said.
Reflecting on their love story, Ms. Levenson said: “The weird thing about our relationship and this story — and everything about it — is that it’s really born out of two tragedies. Our kids lost a beloved parent. We lost a beloved spouse. But there’s some beauty and luck here.”
“It’s just so wonderful that, in life, you can find another true love after the person that you thought you’d spend forever with dies,” she continued. “It’s a gift.”