Once in a while, when you lose in politics, you can still win. Even though Michael Wissot lost his bid for a seat in the state assembly last fall, he found his beshert along the campaign trail.
Wissot, 28, recently announced his engagement to Stephen S. Wise Temple Cantor Alison Weiner, 31, whom he met at a temple event in June featuring keynote speaker Adam Goldman (President Bush's then-liaison to the American Jewish community). Wissot was there as a guest of the Republican Jewish Coalition, to be introduced as a candidate for the 41st Assembly District; Weiner sang "Hatikva" prior to Goldman's speech. Both made note of the other, but got lost in the crowd. So Weiner was surprised when her father grabbed her to "introduce her to this nice young man" and it turned out to be Wissot. The pair were, as each of them recalls, dumbstruck for about 20 minutes.
"I never really appreciated how powerful love at first sight could be until I experienced it," Wissot said.
Over the next few months, Weiner frequently accompanied Wissot on the campaign trail. "She was great at precinct walking because a lot of people recognized her," he said. When election night came, and the Westlake Village businessman realized he was not going to prevail against incumbent Fran Pavley (she won with 64 percent of the votes), Wissot said he was "disappointed, but not devastated. Winning the election would have been a consolation; I already had the prize."
Now it was his turn to keep up with Weiner's schedule, which ended up playing a part in their engagement. Weiner was in Nottingham, England in December to participate in a cantor's consortium and Wissot had been looking for a romantic opportunity to propose. He concocted a scheme to lure her to London just before the end of her trip. Using the power of e-mail, he pretended to be a mutual friend and convinced Weiner to meet him at Trafalgar Square on Dec. 24. There, in one of London's most famous spots, Wissot surprised Weiner and ended up on bended knee amid carolers and snow flurries. Although some people would call the timing of their engagement ironic, Weiner, who appreciates all kinds of music, disagrees.
"To be surrounded by carolers and to be near St. Martin's Church with the most incredible four-part harmony escaping from it was one of the most beautiful moments I could ask for," she said.
As for that other non-Jewish holiday coming up, the one with all the hearts and flowers, Weiner said, "I [have] no doubt Michael and I will both find ways to be creative and express what we feel for each other."