PENINA AND JACK TIE THE KNOT!
JERUSALEM, March 21 Ė About 27 years ago, Penina Rantz was a baby in Florida and Jack Kustanowitz an infant in New Jersey.
Penina was the older of two children when her family moved to Israel. They lived in Elazar in the Gush, so she attended fourth through seventh grades in Israel. She became a big sister to two more children, and it was this family of six that returned to Florida. The two oldest Rantz daughters now live in Jerusalem, and the rest of the family resides in Boca Raton, Florida.
Penina returned to Israel, spent a year studying at Orot, and stayed in the Jewish State to earn her bachelorís degree in political science and a separate diploma in communications and journalism at Bar Ilan University. That effort didnít keep her busy enough, though, so she started a theater at Bar Ilan and directed a series of one-act plays.
After college and a brief stint in public relations, she focused on writing grants for non-profit groups, which she does now at Shatil. She also started working on a masterís degree on conflict resolution in international relations at the Hebrew University.
But her passion was still in performing. Penina the actress had roles that ranged from Helen Kellerís mother to Annie Oakley, and, at Merkaz Hamagshimim in Jerusalem, she acted and directed at Center Stage Theatre with her friend Kate Nachman and got to know Daphna Venyige.
Jack grew up as a middle child in Fair Lawn, where his parents still reside and where his sister and brother come to visit from their apartments in New York. He loved music from the time he was a baby, so Jack started studying piano when he was three years old and tried other instruments over the years.
His family has a multigenerational connection to the Promised Land, but Jackís first taste of life in Israel was when the family spent a month in Jerusalem a year before his bar mitzvah. As a teenager, he spent a summer touring the country. As a college student, he spent a semester at the Hebrew University and worked for a few months as a software developer at Accent, the company famous for its Dagesh multilingual word processor.
He earned a computer engineering degree at Boston University, but Jack remained passionate about music, studying classical piano and organizing a succession of a cappella (singing without instrumental accompaniment) groups. His music was a steady complement to his post-college computer work in Boston and, later, in Jerusalem.
The musician worked on arrangements with his friend, a cappella partner and neighbor Daphna. Jack shared with her his views on religion and fears that he would never meet a woman who shared them.
Meanwhile, Daphna got to know Penina from the "Anglo gang" and her "refreshing religiosity," attitudes toward Israel and sense of humor seemed to be what Jack was seeking.
Jack and Penina had already met several times at various social events in the Anglo community and at Merkaz Hamagshimim, but they never seemed to connect.
Daphna and Kate thought that the two needed an opportunity to get to know each other, so they invited Penina and Jack to a party to watch the Eurovision international music contest. Unfortunately, Israelís entry was less than exciting, and both Penina and Jack seemed bored and sleepy. All hope for the match seemed lost.
But Jack walked Penina home after the party and they discovered they had a lot to talk and laugh about. A shared passion for religion, Israel, laughter, and harmony created a bond that became love. Now this pair has committed to a lifetime of making beautiful music together.