Reyna Simnegar’s family history dates back to the Spanish Inquisition, when her family fled from Spain and ultimately arrived in Venezuela, where she was born in Caracas. Reyna moved to the United States to pursue her degree in Interior Design. She began to take classes at UCLA and found her bashert (destined life-partner), Sammy, when he was her customer at Taco Bell on campus!
When her future husband moved to New York City to attend graduate school, Reyna moved there to be closer to him. However, before Reyna left Los Angeles, Sammy’s mother, who was afraid Sammy would starve in New York without authentic Persian food, hosted her for a week and taught her the intimate secrets of Persian cuisine so she could cook for Sammy. (This was a super investment for Sammy’s mom, because it obviated the need to FedEx frozen Persian food to New York!)
In New York, Reyna pursued a career in advertising, studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She lived across the street from the restaurant made famous on Seinfeld, and practiced her Persian recipes on friends, with great success.
Although Reyna started her personal quest toward becoming a religious Jew after discovering her family were Anusim (Marranos, or Crypto Jews) at the young age of 12, it was not until much later, while living in New York, that she was finally able to realize her dream of living the spiritual life she had always aspired to live. At the same time, Sammy (obviously inspired by...ahem...Reyna) started a personal spiritual quest of his own. Just like in a Hollywood movie—only this time it happened in Manhattan—they both became religious Jews, walking different paths but dancing to the same tune and toward the same goal: Truth. In the end, that was really the beginning, against all odds and in spite of the tribulations of being from two completely different cultures, they married according to the laws of the Torah, and managed to stay alive to be able to tell you about it!
She is very happily married and lives with her “vonderful” husband and five lively boys in Brookline, MA. And by the way, she did earn her Bachelors Degree in International Management and Economics—with honors—from the University of Massachusetts.