Dating 101 – The Last Word of Caution


I have written a couple of times this weekend about Benjamin. He is a man I spoke to for a week, made plans to meet, and then I was 30 minutes late for our first in person meeting due to insane Friday night LA traffic. After letting him know I’d be late, twice, and chatting on the phone while I was stuck in traffic, when I arrived he stood up, gave me a hug, sat down, and told me he was pissed off I was late and was leaving. Our meeting lasted about 40 seconds. This is after we spoke for endless hours on the phone before the meeting.

I drove 2 hours in traffic to meet a Frisbee player for 40 seconds. Annoying to be sure, and it totally hurt my feelings, but I took comfort in the comments I received from my readers when I wrote about it. People were kind when he couldn’t be, which was wonderful and made me feel better. It is impossible to have an experience like this and not take it personally. We’d been getting to know each other, had a great connection, then he saw me in person and bailed. I was late. I didn’t stop to kill someone on my way, I was just late. I don’t get his reaction.

Important to note that we met at a place between our two homes in the valley. I drove 2 hours from the Palisades, (Sunset Boulevard was a nightmare), but he drove to the meeting from his home, which in horrible traffic was about five-minutes away. I could assume he saw me and changed his mind, but that doesn’t really make sense, and why does it need to be something about me that made him go? The honest truth is I am beautiful, funny, and kind. Having a cup of tea with me would have been easy. He simply made a choice to be a douchelord.

Or, maybe it wasn’t a choice, maybe he is just a schmuck. Maybe he is rude, elitist, selfish, weird, and emotionally stunted. So different from what I thought about him BEFORE we met. This is the guy who is going to blame you for everything. He is controlling and intimidating, confusing and scary. He did me a favor by leaving, even though it wasn’t him who left. I got up and left. He was still sitting at the table when I drove by. Perhaps waiting for his next date. This is not a nice guy and I didn’t see it at first. Or did I?

Reviewing our conversations before we met, I thought he was great. Thinking back on our conversations after we met, he said some strange things, but I didn’t hear it because I heard what I wanted to hear. There is a lesson in this humiliation. We need to pay attention when dating. If there is a red flag, don’t tuck it away in the hopes you are misreading it. If you sense something is off, believe yourself. When you are dating it is easy to talk yourself into something you know in your gut is not good. I am embarrassed he was done after seeing me, but I don’t think it was me. He was enraged I was late and he took it as disrespectful. That is scary.

This was about him not me, but it doesn’t make the embarrassment any less. Dating is hard, and there are no guarantees, but it should not be hurtful. If someone is unkind, walk away. If someone talks unkindly about an ex, walk away. If someone blames you for things that are not your fault, walk away. In the course of 6 days this man charmed me, made me think I had been rude, made me think I needed to apologize, then ended our first meeting after 40 seconds because I disrespected him by being late. That is crazy and I can hardly believe it happened to me. For a minute I thought about taking down the blogs I wrote about him and simply erasing the experience, but that isn’t how I roll. I share the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I am a smart girl and it is fascinating I didn’t catch the red flags when they first appeared. Someone might read this and think I am overreacting and it was just a bad date, but I don’t think so. This is a horrible guy. This is not about having the last word, as much as it is about sharing words of caution. We are all in this together and as a woman searching for love, I sometimes stumble. My readers have picked me up every time I’ve fallen, and so I am swallowing my pride, exposing the ugly side of dating, and hoping it helps someone else keep the faith.

Dating 101: Jaded but Hopeful


This week I was asked out by a yet another man in a dress, one in his eighties, one who posted jail pictures, and one who has a dog named Ned. By Ned, of course I mean his name is N.E.D. as in No Erectile Dysfunction. Important to note when he wrote to tell me what NED stood for, he spelled dysfunction wrong, which I found to be sad and hilarious. My dating life continues to be entertaining and pathetic. I’m exhausted from all the eye rolling I do.

Over the weekend I received an email from a man we will call “Benjamin”. Benjamin wrote me a short but sweet note. I responded, we briefly emailed, then moved on to phone calls. He is entertaining, funny, educated, open, honest, Jewish, a dad, good with banter, and attractive if he actually looks like his pictures. Over email he was very clever, which I find appealing. He drew me in with a wonderful combination of boyish charm and sarcastic smartass. I was interested.

He is very aware of who he is, what he needs, and how he is going to get what he wants. He is articulate and not afraid to speak his mind, which I find to be very attractive. He is a lot like me to be honest, which is interesting and strange. I like who I am and there are parts of my personality I think are wonderful, and the more we talk, the more I see similarities, which is fascinating because we are very different. It makes him both intriguing and intimidating.

I have been down this “pre-dating” road before and as you all know, and it never turns out well. I have pre-dated men who I was certain I was connecting with, only to meet them and have there be no connection at all. Pre-dating is tricky, somewhat necessary, yet useless. I’ve been divorced for 22 years. I have dated, had three important relationships, and had my heart broken. I want to believe each experience got me closer to my bashert, but that isn’t always easy to do.

I want to find love, share my life, go on adventures, and have a partner. I want my son to see me in a relationship with a man who loves me in the same way I love him. I want my son to see me happy in a way that he wants for himself. I have a wonderful life and sharing it is the goal, but it is a hard game to play, so goals can be elusive. I remain hopeful, which is frankly a miracle because I know many who have stopped trying. But enough about me, let’s get back to Benjamin.

We were texting and he responded to something I sent in a way that hurt my feelings. I wrote back with what I thought was a clever reply. I suppose I was thinking about only my feelings, so it never occurred to me that my response was anything other than funny and charming. What I said however, rubbed him the wrong way and he was put off. This is why texting is not good when you are getting to know someone, as interpretations are most often wrong. I am not a fan of texting and try to avoid it whenever possible.

Then yesterday something funny happened and I wrote to tell him about it. (We don’t know each other well so I wasn’t sure if I could call him the middle of a work day, thus the text.) He wrote back telling me to give him a call. I called, we chatted for a minute, then he said he wanted to talk about the text exchange. He told me how he interpreted my text, which was not good. He thought it was rude and condescending, which of course was not my intention, but in retrospect I could see how he might have thought it was. He then explained how he thought I had interpreted his text, which he understood, but felt was wrong.

It is truly interesting to be dealing with a grown up. He didn’t sulk, he didn’t disappear, he wasn’t an ass, he simply wanted to talk about it in a kind and open way. He is an advanced communicator, as am I, which I appreciate. We talked, each taking time to explain ourselves, both apologized for the miscommunication, agreed texting is not a good way to communicate, and moved on. He handled the situation with maturity, which I respect. It was a pleasant surprise to hit a bump, talk about it, and have it be done.

At the end of the day I have no idea what I am doing. I am jaded but hopeful, and blessed that hope is in the lead. I am old enough to know exactly who I am and I am searching for someone who is secure with who he is, so that we make sense. Benjamin seems like a good guy, but also very complicated, so we’ll see how it plays out. We are meeting today, and I have no idea how it will go, but there is pre-dating flutter that is lovely. I could be wrong, as I most often am, so all I can do is just roll with it, relax, and focus on keeping the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dating 101: Hookers and Judgment


Yesterday I was written to online by a 59-year-old man. He was attractive and had written an honest and funny profile about himself. He stated he was newly divorced and just starting to date. It was charming and I appreciated the honesty, so I wrote back. After 2 notes I gave him my number and he called. We are grownups, and texting and email is painful when getting to know someone, so we quickly jumped to a call. He reached out and we began the dating interview.

I found him to be interesting and witty, and was enjoying our chat, until I wasn’t. When he said he was newly divorced, what he meant was that he had signed his divorce papers last week. While he has been out of his marital home for a year, he is barely divorced and still hanging onto his old life. He spoke a lot about his ex-wife, which is fine, until it wasn’t. I suggested that perhaps he hadn’t been divorced long enough to know how it would affect him. I also told him dating had changed a lot in the years he had been married.

I explained that while I had been divorced forever, I remember my first relationship after divorce and it was doomed from the start because I arrived with so much baggage that still needed to be unpacked. He let me know he had unpacked all his bags already and was good to go. I explained that after 24 years of marriage, perhaps he should sew some wild oats and have single fun before diving into a relationship. Sleep with new people and discover who he was at this stage of his life.

He then assured me he had sewn his oats already. Without being prompted to go on, he let me know he had a sexless marriage and had spent the last few years of said marriage sleeping with hookers. He felt it was the respectful thing to do because he wanted the marriage to work, just needed sex, so he made it a business decision rather than an emotional one. Oh. My. God. Who tells someone they just met, and are interested in dating, they not only cheated, but paid for sex with hookers?

Important to note I have no issues with women who have sex for money. I have a good friend who worked as a prostitute to put herself through college. We met a few years ago while getting our nails done and I not only love her, but have no judgement about how she makes her money. When it came to this man however, I found myself sitting in a pile of judgement. I don’t care that he paid for sex, but that did it while married “to respect his wife”, is ridiculous and disgusting.

I can applaud him for being so honest I suppose, but no. He asked if I would like to go out on a date and I chose to decline. I also chose to suggest to him that perhaps he withhold some information from women moving forward. There is a lot to be said for honesty, but there is some information that simply does not need to be shared. I cannot think of any good that come out of my knowing the man I am dating not only cheated of his wife, but did it with hookers on a regular basis and over a long period of time.

It has been an interesting few days in my dating life. I was asked out by a man who was 82. I was also asked out by a man who was 25. They weren’t even the weird one. I was asked out by a man who is on parole and has limited mobility. Whoever said dating was fun, was drunk. Not tipsy and cute drunk, but vomiting on yourself and falling down stairs into a gutter drunk. I have been dating for a long time and I am tired. Not tired of dating, because I know it is necessary, but tired of the game.

I remain hopeful, which is key. Without hope there is no need to keep dating. I will meet a great man one of these days. He will be Jewish, not married, not wearing a parole tracker, and the only hooker he is interested in will be the one I am roll playing while we have a sexy night in Vegas. There is the right man out there looking for me. We will stumble upon each other one of these days. I simply need to pay attention, keep my eyes open, keep my heart open, and keep the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dating 101: Three Strikes


In the never ending madness that is my dating life, I’ve been asked out by three men this week, and it is only Thursday. It would be fair to assume the odds are in my favor for at least one of them to be worthy of meeting for a cocktail, but when you remember it is MY dating life we are talking about, you must know that each man was stranger than the one before him, and I struck out three times.

Man #1 is 54 years old, Jewish, divorced, and estranged from his three grown children. He is coming out of a long term relationship with a woman who has a young child. When I asked how long it had been since they broke up, he said he was actually in the process of moving out of the home they shared. He was at their house when we spoke, taking out her garbage. Dear Lord, I simply can’t.

He assured me that even though they technically still lived together, he was moving out and their relationship was long over. I quickly realized he mentioned her a lot, so I started to count. For the next three minutes he referred to his not-really-ex-girlfriend by name 26 times. He then explained that in the interest of full disclosure, he wanted me to know he voted for Trump, and would do it again.

His living situation was no longer the grossest thing about him. This man is a personal mess and a political nightmare. No good can ever come from dating that combination. We ended our conversation and that was the end of that, which brings me to man #2. This man let me know he had been divorced for three years, but was still living with his ex-wife. They have four kids, one of them still at home.

Rather than disrupt her life, they agreed to live together until she went to college, which would be this fall. He assured me I didn’t need to worry about dating him, because they had a system in place. She slept in one room, he slept in another, and they took turns dating on weekends. To clarify, they alternated weekends at the house so they could both pursue fulfilling sex lives with other people.

On his weekend at the house, his ex-wife and daughter sleep at her parent’s home. Then when it is her weekend, he goes to his mother’s house with his daughter. Really? How can this be a thing? I think this is going to screw up that kid in worse ways than a divorce would. I don’t want to judge, and everyone should do what works for their family, but I’m going to have to say no on this one. No.

Man #3 is 58 years old, not Jewish, educated, handsome, and the father of five kids. Important to note he has never been married and his five kids have four different mothers. Interesting fact, two of the kids were born sixteen days apart. Yup. His kids range in age from 8 to 36, and he would really like to have more. Fun fact: he has two grandchildren who are older than his youngest children.

I don’t have any women in my life who would find his story attractive, but bless him for sharing it so proudly. Ugh. I have struck out without ever having even made it to bat. All I can do is laugh because at the end of the day it is funny. There is someone for everyone though, so I’m sure all three of these men will find love. I’ve got 20 bucks that says they will all find it before I do, which is hilarious.

I find my dating life to be very entertaining, which is a good thing or I may want to impale myself. One day my prince will come and the only things I am certain of, are that he won’t live with his ex-wife, have multiple kids from multiple women, or think Donald Trump is anything other than garbage. So until my bashert finds me, I will continue to be entertained and remain hopeful, while keeping the faith.

Dating 101: What is a relationship?


I woke up this morning feeling like a loser. Not a loser in life, because I’m a rock star at life, but a loser in dating. I can’t seem to get it together when it comes to sharing my life with a man. I historically date good men who are simply not the right men for me. There has been an occasional asshole of course, but that is how love works sometimes. I’m good at counting my blessings and finding silver linings, which is why I look at past relationships without regret. There is some anger, and certainly some bitterness, but not regret.

I don’t think things happen for a reason, but I can pinpoint the reasons some things happen. Does that make sense to anyone other than me? I woke up this morning thinking about my life and wondered why I am alone. I’m not alone alone of course, but I am not sharing my life with a partner, and that is sad to me. I don’t need a man, but I would like to have one. More importantly, I want a man to want to be with me, not need to be with me. I also don’t want anyone to settle for me or talk themselves into me.

I have been “dating” a man for a few months and yesterday I asked him if we were friends or dating, and he said he wasn’t sure. We talked about our relationship for a quick minute, but when I got home I cried. Not sure why exactly, but it made me sad that after so many months he was unsure what we were. It would have been easy to say we were dating, if we were, but he viewed us differently I guess. His answer was fine because it was his truth, but in the end it just wasn’t enough. I told him I didn’t want to see him anymore.

It is sad because he is great. I don’t think he thinks he is great, but I am a genius and I know for a fact that he is great. Here’s the thing though, if I spend four months dating a man and he is unable to say whether we are dating or not, he is confused because that is dating. Furthermore, if this conversation had happened between a girlfriend of mine and a man she was dating, I would tell her to walk away. If we don’t see our worth, then the men we are dating certainly won’t. It is not about how he sees me as much as how I see myself, and I am quite fantastic.

I will miss this man. We have settled into a comfortable relationship, even though it appears he is not sure we even had a relationship. He makes me laugh every time we speak on the phone or are together. He is educated and witty, clever and sensitive. He is also completely unaware of how lucky he would be, were I to love him, and that is the goal when dating isn’t it? I don’t think it is hard to get laid, or have a man buy me a drink or dinner. It is hard however to find love, but that is why I date. I am shamelessly looking for love.

I spoke to my “friend” last night before I went to bed, and again this morning. Ugh. That will be hard to stop. He is the person I go to for things, my date for events, my sounding board, and in the end a really good friend. He is not however looking for a relationship where he can give and receive love. I think he is worthy, but I am not a therapist or a mind reader, and I don’t know what he wants. I do know me though, and I want more. Want it, need it, deserve it, and certain I will find it. The search continues so I am keeping the faith.

Dating 101 – Bring on the rain


I started dating someone late last year and even though I totally thought we would be a thing, in the end we are not the thing I had hoped for. I really like him and we are friends, but it is a shame it didn’t become more. The simple truth is that at this stage of my life, I want to be with someone who is ready for a relationship. I have a wonderful life to share, and I am a wonderful human being, so there is no energy or point in spending time convincing someone to be brave.

If I don’t value myself, then how can I expect someone else to value me? I have had my heart broken, more than once, but I have never let that pain stop me from trying.  Love is grand and I am not going to let hurt influence my happiness. The memories of heartache certainly shape my heart, but they do not have the power to change what I want and what I believe I am worthy of. I hope this man gets to a place where he knows he is worthy of a good woman who values him.

Dating is not fun, but if you view it with the knowledge that even a misstep gets you one step closer to love, you’ll be okay. I had a date this weekend with a man a friend set me up with. I was told he would make me laugh, so we made a plan to meet for breakfast. He was handsome, on time, had a job, and fantastic green eyes. We said hello, settled in for the dance, and it was going well. Then he decided that he was going to call the waitress a bitch. Not once, but twice, to her face. We were done in just under ten minutes.

There is no world in which I am going to be okay with this behavior, so I went in. I started by apologizing to the waitress. She was lovely, which made his treatment of her even more disturbing. I told him he was rude and I was not only not interested in staying on our date, but he needed to apologize to the waitress. It was then that he told me I was, wait for it, a bitch. I got up, “accidentally” spilled my iced tea on his lap, and headed home.

I was sad for about five minutes, then it was just another step in my journey.  There is someone for everyone. The man I met for breakfast will meet a woman to spend his life with, and I’m hoping she ends being a total bitch. The man I was dating will also meet someone, and she will inspire him to risk getting his heart broken again. He will see her worth and that he is better beside her. I will be that woman for someone one day. Just not today, and that is okay.

It is Monday morning and raining in in Los Angeles, which is a great thing. The universe is washing away the weekend and allowing the week to begin fresh. I will keep trying because that is half the battle. You can’t be sad that you are alone if you are not trying to meet someone. How we try is not important, as long as we try. We are all worthy of love and if you want a relationship, you will have one. Be brave, take a risk, know your worth, believe in love, and keep the faith.

 

 

Dating 101 – A Poem


He asked me out for a drink.

I agreed to meet after work.

He arrived on time.

I was five minutes late.

He was dressed nice.

I was having a good hair day.

He was the age he said he was.

I was hopeful.

He was the height he said he was.

I was still shorter in my heels.

He had a job.

I was impressed by his manners.

He had hair.

I thought the grey was sexy.

He was missing a bunch of teeth.

I prayed he was a hockey player.

He had never played hockey.

I couldn’t bring myself to ask about it.

He never mentioned it.

I stayed for 46 minutes.

He asked me out for a second date.

I went home to impale myself.

He will find a nice girl with missing teeth.

I will never understand how dating works.

Three front teeth people!

I am jaded, but  keeping the faith.

‘Shalom’: New Dating App Launches


Photo from Pixabay.

Jewish millennials are familiar with the widely popular dating app JSwipe and the longtime dating website JDate. Now, a brand new Jewish dating app has come on the scene, and it was not created by Jews.

Created by a couple of Sikh entrepreneurs, the Shalom app was launched on Wednesday and is being sold as the middle ground between casual dating and more serious relationship seeking. Most dating apps provide users with a random selection of people to swipe left or right to get possible matches. Shalom, by contrast, creates a selection pool that’s less random. It searches for likely matches based on “social media profiles, and behavioral data, like how users have interacted with others on the app, in order to make connections,” according to Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).

“We think we definitely have a better product and the back-end technology stacked to actually match people based on data,” KJ Dhaliwal, one of the app’s co-creators, told JTA. “We do a lot of work in making sure our algorithms are set up in a way that actually results in people matching with people they end up marrying one day.”

Interestingly, Dhaliwal, his co-creator Sukhmeet Toor and their team in San Francisco, CA all consist of non-Jews. But they have prior success in the field of dating apps, as their prior app, Dil Mill, has become the South Asian version of Tinder. Dil Mill uses the same formula that Shalom uses.

Dhaliwal told JTA that he figured that the Jewish community would be perfect for an app using that kind of formula given the similarities between the Jewish and South Asian community “in terms of the values around community, the values around family, the values around marriage.”

Dhaliwal and Toor certainly have their work cut out for them in competing against JSwipe, the app that already claims the mantle of the “Jewish Tinder”, boasts a four-star review on Google Apps, and already has 410,000 users. But perhaps these Sikh entrepreneurs will be savvy enough to establish Shalom as a viable alternative in the lucrative market of Jewish dating.

Dating 101 – Siggy Flicker, Mind Reader


I have had a series of relationships with a series of men who were unkind. Not bad people, just unkind to me in the end. I can draw parallels between all the men I have dated, and in the end the one thing that ties them all together, is that I probably loved them more than they loved me. It is a difficult thing to admit, and I suppose a little embarrassing, but it is true. When I fall in love I am all in, and the men I have fallen in love with have never jumped all the way in with me.

I am not sure why it has been this way, but I want very much to change the pattern. Wanting something however, is not enough to make it happen. I’m trying to date outside of box I have built. Maybe if I date a different kind of man, I will have a different result. That is difficult because we are attracted to who we are attracted to, and while my thing has always been to date Jews, at the end of the day I guess I also like to date an asshole. Jewish assholes are my thing.

I have two dates planned for next week. Both are with Jews. One is with a man I met on match.com, and the other one is with a man I have dated in the past. I have written about him here of course, but I won’t mention who it is because I’m feeling unsure about it and perhaps a little embarrassed to be going backwards. I’m simply trying to stay positive, thinking that the new guy might be great, and the old gay might be misunderstood. It was all rather gross, then my phone rang.

It was relationship expert Siggy Flicker, who I know through my blog. She called to wish me a Happy New Year and see how the holidays were. As we were chatting and catching up, I told her I was searching for something more with someone better. Without her knowing what I was thinking about my upcoming dates, she told me I needed to not go backwards and date new people. Then she said I needed to fall in love with a man who loved me just a little bit more than I loved him.

Really? I have no idea how Siggy went into my head to see what I was thinking, but she called me out on the two things that were troubling me. I suppose that is why she is an expert. We spoke for five minutes and she narrowed it down to the basics in a way that frankly freaked me out. When I got off the phone with Siggy I cancelled my plans with the man I dated in the past, and changed my coffee date with the new guy to drinks. I am going to keep my eyes facing forward.

I am 51 years old and alone. Not because I want to be alone, but because at this stage of my life I finally learned that I would rather be alone than be with an asshole. I’m going to take Siggy’s advice and change my dating patterns. I am going to find someone new and not look back. I am going to value myself, and therefore attract someone who values you me in return. I will take the advice of an expert, instead of guessing on my own. I am jumping all in and keeping the faith.

 

Dating 101 – Not OK Cupid


I spent the weekend at home. I was dealing with jet lag and fighting off a cold that was trying very hard to derail me. I drank a lot of tea with honey, soaked in the tub a few times, and basically just rested. When I got an email from OK Cupid on Saturday afternoon letting me know someone was interested in me, I logged in thinking a good man might make me feel better.

That was the only mistake I made all weekend. These are the actual pictures of the man who got in touch with me. They have not been altered in any way, other than to delete his face. Yes, you got that right, they are posted online, for all to see, with his face clearly showing. This man is not shy or embarrassed by who he is or what he is looking for. Good for him I guess that he is so comfortable in his own skin, but surely there is a fetish dating site for him to be searching on.

Needless to say, after one week on OK Cupid, I was done.  Dating is a nightmare under the best of circumstances, and this was almost too much for me to handle. Maybe it was because I was tired, or perhaps because I was sick, but I wanted to scream and think I actually may have. I got up today at 4:00 am and the first thing I did was delete my OK Cupid account. Why didn’t I delete it immediately upon hearing from this man? Because my head exploded and I lost the use of my hands for a short time. That and I threw my phone on the floor and was too tired to go get it.

Dear Lord. I am 51 years old, cute, funny, successful, independent, kind, loving, supportive, open to love, and a great woman, yet this is what is available to me to date in Los Angeles? I will remain hopeful, because that is who I am as a human being, but to say this man did not crush my spirit a little would be a lie. In an attempt to shake it off and embrace the midlife crisis I am currently going through, I chopped off all my hair. A bit rash I suppose, but it’s just hair and it will grow back. At the end of the day I will be fine, because I am always fine. When it comes to my dating life however, today it is a bit of a struggle to keep the faith.

Dating 101 – Baggage


Men often say women have a lot of baggage and they don’t want to deal with any drama. I read as much in countless profiles of men dating online. They are very specific about not wanting to deal with the damage of all the men who have come before them. I get it, but if men think it is only women who have baggage, they are delusional. Men are also scarred by previous relationships and it is funny when they insist they are not. Men not only have baggage, but it is much heavier.

I have spent the past week speaking to a man from Santa Monica. He is 61, divorced with 2 kids, and painfully fragile. We didn’t have any interactions that did not include him telling me he did not like what I was saying. If I said something sarcastic, as I am known to do, he would say “I don’t like that.” He spent a lot of time telling me what he didn’t like, what he wouldn’t do, and letting me know he was desperate for acceptance and kindness. It was sad and exhausting.

We spoke and texted for little while, then in what would be our last conversation, he had what can only be described as a nervous breakdown. We were chatting about relationships and sex. I asked him if he was still sexually active, which I think is an acceptable question. We are adults, he is 61, and I thought the question in the context of our conversation was fair and appropriate. He didn’t think so and started to scream at me that he doesn’t answer those questions.

One might of thought he was rude, or perhaps assume he’s dealing with sexual issues, or conclude he has been treated unkindly, but either way it was weird and his reaction was disproportionate to the situation. He was angry, confused, flustered, and embarrassed. This is a man who is carrying around so much baggage he is weighed down and simply walking around in circles. It was strange, then funny, then really quite sad. Needless to say, we won’t be speaking again.

Relationships are hard and more complicated at age 51. Everyone is coming to the table with history, and with history comes baggage. I don’t expect someone to not have needs or reactions based on their past, but I do expect someone to not yell at me, and certainly not approve or disapprove of everything I say. To this man who felt he could yell at me, I hope you take a moment to step back and reevaluate what it is exactly you are doing in terms of your dating style.

I would recommend you focus on your kids and work and not date right now. You are emotionally not ready. The truth is that any woman who is willing to date someone at your level of pain, is equally as unavailable. You’ll end up having a relationship that is unsatisfying for you both. There is nothing wrong with having baggage. We are adults and that is life, just be careful how you pack it. I am continuing to date, doing a little unpacking of my own, and keeping the faith.

Dating 101: Fingers Crossed


I have been quietly dating a lovely man for a few months. He is a wonderful father, grandfather, and son. He is kind, smart, funny, generous, gentle, and respectful. He treats me with a tenderness I have never experienced in a relationship before. He extends the same respect to my son, which I appreciate and admire very much. We have a wonderful time together and I feel nervous, but content.

We don’t have a lot of things in common, and are politically on opposite sides of just about everything, but he allows me to have my opinion. He also allows me to spend a lot of time trying to change his opinion. He is open to change and growth and knowledge. I adore this man am quite certain that if I can get out of my own way, we will be important to each other in a lot of different ways.

I have had a series of complicated and difficult relationships, and while my relationship with George is complicated in some ways and difficult in others, it is also easy, calm, nurturing, and fun. We laugh at many things, including each other, and I feel blessed to have stumbled upon this man. He is unlike anyone I thought I would ever date, but has all the qualities I was looking for in a man.

It is new, exciting, comfortable, and connected. I don’t know where we will end up, but being on this road with him has brought me happiness. I have been writing about my dates and relationships for years, always being clear that I only date Jews and Democrats. I am now dating a man who is not a Democrat or a Jew, and I am counting my blessings.

Time will tell what we become to each other, but we are both happy and hopeful. It is strange to be dating a man who is not Jewish, but I am working through it. It is frustrating to date a man who is not a Democrat, but he is working through it. It is unusual to be dating a man who takes such good care of me, so I am crossing my fingers and keeping the faith.

Dating 101: Snakes & iTunes


My dating life is interesting. By interesting, of course I mean slightly more pathetic than interesting, but still interesting. I truly have to laugh at the absurd things that happen to me, otherwise I would cry. Cry and scream. Cry and scream and adopt a cat. By cat of course I mean a dozen cats, two dogs, and perhaps a parrot. One I could train to laugh every time I said “I have a date”.  I am good at a lot of things, but detecting crazy in men is not one of them. I suppose in the big scheme of things this is not a terrible gift to be saddled with, but some days the inability to see exactly how insane a man is exhausts and depresses me.

I was chatting on Match with a man from Beverly Hills. He works in mining, was sweet, and if you took out one contact lens and squinted with your other eye, looked a little bit like Kelsey Grammer. We were texting back and forth as I am in London, and made plans to go out when I get back. He asked me to tell him something interesting about myself every day that I was in London. Seemed like a cute thing to do. I told him I was Canadian and had a Canadian flag tattoo. He told me that he had a very large penis, that he refers to as “snake”, and you can see it even when he is wearing a suit. You can’t make this stuff up people.

I marveled that of all the things he could have told me as we did the dance of introduction, he opted to tell about his genitals. I told him I thought it a was strange and disrespectful choice. He told me he meant no disrespect and was simply sharing. I reiterated it was offensive, and he told me I had no sense of humor, sent him mixed messages, and should “fuck off and die”. He then proceeded to tell me I would remain alone because I hated men. Dear Lord. I don’t think I hate anything, other than Donald Trump as President, so his outburst was hilarious. The snake charmer was anything but charming and I was in shock.

He was texting nonstop, then started to talk about my son, who he knows nothing about. Well that’s no fun, so I blocked him on my phone, blocked him on Match, and sent them a screen shot of his text telling me to die. This is a guy who has put his picture online, given me his phone number, then threatened me, all because I told him it was disrespectful to talk about his penis with a stranger. His name is David and he’s 48 years old with glasses, so if anyone comes across him run because he is unstable and dangerous, with or without his snake. As of this morning Match had not suspended him. Dating is strange to be sure, but this is terrifying.

Cut to James, also from Match, who also happens to do something with mining. He is originally from Brazil, and is looking for love after having his heart broken. We exchanged a few emails, then exchanged phone numbers and started to text rather than call as I am in London. He wrote to say he was going to Boston and would let me know when he had arrived. He did as he said he would, and when I asked him how it was going, he told me he got an iPhone. I am a diehard Apple person, so I congratulated him on stepping into the light. I asked what he was up to on a Sunday in Boston, and he told me he was downloading an app he needed for work.

He then told me he did not have his credit card and could I buy him an iTunes card and send it to him by email. Really? Yes. Really. I’m not sure how he bought the phone since he said he left his credit card at home, but I’m guessing details are not important to James. Details or the truth. When I told him he was insane to think I would send him anything, he stopped writing. Not a word since I said he was creepy and I would report him to Match. It makes me sad because there are women who will fall for things like this and in an attempt to not be lonely or feel desired, will buy into this type of scam. James should be arrested, not dating.

Cut to today, when James wrote to tell me I misunderstood him and he expected more from me. He doesn’t know me, so I’m not exactly sure what exactly he was expecting, or what was disappointing. He said he wasn’t asking for money, just asking for an iTunes card to get some apps, for his work, so he could give a great presentation. He said he has a daughter, and friends, and a boss, and family, so why ask a woman he does not know? This is insanity and makes me sad for people who are dating from a place of deep loneliness, as I am sure money is being sent and snake selfies are being taken. It is very sad and frightening.

I looked this morning and the profiles for both James and David are now hidden from the Match website. I am not sure if that was done by them or Match, but they should be looked at more closely. These men are predators and ruin it for others who are online genuinely trying to meet someone. I invite Match to get in touch with me at angel@jewishjournal.com and I will give them the details of these two loser who are polluting their website and good work. Dating is scary in general, but when you do it online, there are risks involved that perhaps women don’t think about. It can be creepy, but if you want to find someone, a necessary evil.

I date not because I love to date, because who would love something so revolting? I date because I would like to share my life with someone, and dating is how I will meet that person. I am hopeful, which is truly the most important thing to have when dating, because without hope you’ve got no shot in hell of ever meeting anyone. Please just be careful out there, and I don’t just mean the ladies. There are women online who are scamming people just as often as men. Do not send anyone any money, do not tell anyone where you live, meet in a public place, and don’t let anyone pick you up at home. You cannot be too careful.

It is sometimes hard to trust people you know, let alone strangers, but you really must try to be aware. If you come across people you sense are dangerous, tell someone. Write to the dating site you are using and tell them. You owe it to yourself, and also to the other people who will innocently stumble across these people. If you’re wrong and they are not dangerous, just crazy, still better to have said something than to be quiet. James and David are bumps in the road and I will not be scared off by a couple of idiots. I will be cautious and I will be brave because my bashert is out there and he is keeping the faith.

Rounding out a big year, JDate CEO has reason to celebrate


Last year was big for Spark Networks. At an open-bar mixer and comedy show in January to celebrate the re-launch of its flagship website, JDate, the company’s CEO was exuberant.

There was one metric in particular Michael Egan wanted to highlight when he took the stage at the Improv in Hollywood on Jan. 20: the number of Jewish marriages that have resulted from the service.

“We think we’re responsible for more mother-to-child conversations than any other website — we’re still trying to prove that one,” he told a room full of Jewish singles interspersed with a few JDate success stories invited by the company.

Since he took the CEO job in January 2015, he’s been in charge of JDate and ChristianMingle, which together form the bulk of the web company’s portfolio, and he’s had some figures to brag about. 

In particular, Spark Networks introduced mobile apps for JDate and ChristianMingle last year, growing to more than 318,00 active mobile users from virtually zero late in 2014.

That’s not to mention JSwipe users: Spark Networks purchased the upstart millennial-targeted Jewish app in October for $7 million, with a potential extra $10 million going to JSwipe’s four founders if they meet certain earning targets. (In July 2015, just a few months before acquiring JSwipe, Spark Networks had sued the app for infringement of its copyright on the name “JDate.”) Egan said the mobile app will begin pursuing profit strategies this year, but existing services will remain free.

Egan is neither Jewish nor single. Having been married 19 years, he’s never seriously used a dating app a day in his life. He uses the word “gosh” and speaks excitedly about building Internet communities, having spent a decade in Web businesses and another in crisis communications.

On a recent day at Spark Networks headquarters, which occupies the sixth floor of a Westwood office tower, the bald and wiry Egan wore a salmon button-up shirt and blue jeans with a sports watch and Oakley eyeglasses, ditching the blazer he’d worn at the Improv. 

“I missed this entire online dating thing,” Egan told the Jewish Journal. “And I told [Spark Networks] that when they were asking me about the job. I told them, ‘Look, I might not be your guy.’ ”

Spark Networks is a publicly traded corporation on the New York Stock Exchange valued above $90 million (its stock ticker is LOV). Just months before Egan was hired, a group of shareholders put up what he called a “proxy battle” and succeeded in replacing the board of directors.

In August 2014, the new board chairman, Michael McConnell, replaced the CEO of three and a half years, Greg Liberman, taking on the role of executive chairman. After a corporate restructuring, the company announced Egan’s hire in December 2014.

Since then, Spark Networks has hired a new chief financial officer, chief marketing officer and chief technology officer.

The company’s executive team isn’t all that looks different. Its two top websites have undergone re-launches aimed at streamlining features and integrating them into the same Web platform.

As Egan explains, the makeovers were part of the vision of the new management. For years, the company had used stable profits from JDate’s monthly subscribers to grow ChristianMingle, he said.

“But what started to happen was that JDate got a little old,” he said. “It had no mobile application, and we know that the world has shifted very heavily into mobile.”

Since 2012, the world has seen the advent of the dating app Tinder, widely popular with singles in their 20s, where users select or deny each other by swiping left or right on one another’s photographs. In April 2014, JSwipe launched as its Jewish counterpart. 

Spark Networks evidently had some catching up to do.

“The new board recognized that, hey, mobile is critical, we’ve got to reinvest back into JDate,” Egan said. “JDate is sort of the crown jewel of this company, and it’s been ignored for too long.”

In addition to JDate and ChristianMingle, Egan took charge of a host of Spark’s much smaller niche dating sites, including SilverSingles for older singles, LDSSingles for Mormons and Adventist Singles Connection for Seventh Day Adventists, along with JDate’s Israeli, French and United Kingdom counterparts. 

With the acquisition of JSwipe, Spark Networks received an additional block of users: At the time, the mobile-only platform boasted 450,000 downloads and 40 million messages between users. 

(Adding further drama to the incestuous world of the Jewish digital dating space, Joe Shapira, who cofounded JDate in 1997 and departed in 2004, last year launched a competing Jewish dating app, Jfiix, which operates like a cross between JSwipe and JDate.)

The acquisition of JSwipe also made Spark Networks’ Jewish user base a lot younger. 

Whereas about 85 percent of JDaters are 35 and older, 90 percent of JSwipers are 30 and younger, according to the CEO. 

JDate, Egan said, is “a more serious dating site — you come to us when you’re tired of playing the crowd and you want to actually settle down and find somebody to marry.”

Accordingly, the customer satisfaction surveys he implemented this year show that departing users either love JDate because they met somebody fabulous or hate it because they feel ripped off. Egan said the company plans on rolling out curriculum about dating and relationship building, such as webinars and blog posts, as well as live events, so that even those customers who don’t meet the love of their life can still feel as though they’ve gained something.

It was largely that category of still-single customers who attended the re-launch party at the iconic Melrose Boulevard comedy club on Jan. 23. 

One attendee, a divorced schoolteacher, said she’d gotten on the service because of a Black Friday deal. She wasn’t alone. One of the comics, Taylor Williamson, complained that JDate had cheated him by offering a promotional deal and then charging him full price, leading to the inevitable “cheap Jews” joke.

The prevailing mood of the evening, at least among the comics, was jaded and self-effacing.

“My dating pool is like a picked-over clothing rack at T.J.Maxx,” said Nicole Aimée Schreiber, the night’s emcee. “I’m a woman over 30.”

Then the crowd of Jewish singles watched gleefully as the evening turned in on itself, a PR event cannibalizing the product it intended to hawk.

When the night’s headliner, Adam Ray, pulled a victim from the crowd, he unwittingly picked a Spark Networks employee, proceeding to grill him about his love life and inadvertently turning the evening into an awkward JDate office party.

He asked the bespectacled employee’s name and received an extremely Jewish-sounding one.

“Really?” he asked. “Was Matzah Ball Circumcision taken?”

My Single Peeps: Elyse G.


Elyse, 43, is a freelancer for this magazine — but that doesn’t mean she was coerced into being interviewed for My Single Peeps. At least as far as I know. I’ve never met a single person at the office. I write from home. Maybe it’s a tyrannical organization. All I know is she showed up to meet me, and she seemed interested in genuinely finding love.

“I basically grew up in the Chicago suburb of Evanston,” Elyse begins. “I went to the University of Illinois [at Chicago — UIC] and got my master’s in journalism from Syracuse University. I began my journalism career as a music journalist and interviewed bands while maintaining straight A’s. While an undergrad at UIC, I co-founded the Chicago Flame,” a community newspaper that was around for 20 years. That’s where Elyse honed her chops as a restaurant and travel writer. “I pretty much lived the whole plot of ‘Reality Bites,’ minus the two cute guys fighting over me. It was time for a fresh start, so I moved out to California in October of ’94.” She did temp work for a few months before landing her first real job, at Rogers & Cowan. She moved on to other PR companies, writing press kits and press releases, but, “I discovered I love the work and didn’t care for the politics. After 9/11, it made me realize how fragile and fleeting life is, and I decided to go into business for myself.” She’s a freelancer who writes about food, travel and wellness. 

Elyse describes herself as quirky. “Quirky works if you’re Zooey Deschanel on TV and under 30. I’m told I was quirky, and guys don’t like quirky.” I ask her what makes her quirky. “The way I express myself; my hand gestures; my eyes … I look away. I just have my own way of seeing the world. I see my competition in L.A. — they have the long, straight hair, they come off easygoing, and I come off uptight until I can relax and express myself.”

When she first sits down with me, she’s ready to talk. I slow her down because she’s talking faster than I type. She pauses, and then continues midsentence when I prompt her. I think she’s too serious — that she doesn’t know how to laugh at life. But as she gets out her story, I realize that she just wants to show me that side of herself. We all want to show our best sides right away — and to Elyse, her best side is one of a serious journalist. But it’s when she makes jokes about the horrors of being single that I see her at her best. Later she tells me, “If I seem stiff and uncomfortable, it’s because I like to get to know people. I have this whole other side where I’m fun [and I’m the] life of the party.” And I believe her.

She wants an educated man. “Somebody who likes to actually get out and do things — try new foods, have new life experiences. Somebody with a good job. I want a guy who’s comfortable in his own skin. I like a guy who’s tall and works out. I realize at this stage in my life, I don’t want IKEA. I want Ethan Allen — something I can just take home and enjoy.

“If it’s in the cards for me to have a child of my own, that’s great; but if not, I can adopt. There are certain things I’d like to do in life before I become a parent.” “Like what?” I ask. She thinks for a few moments and realizes she’s done everything she’s wanted to do. “The only thing I haven’t found is a great guy.”


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

 

David Henry G.


David, 27, seems to be brimming with confidence. He’s got a good, deep voice, and he’s still when he speaks. I fidget. My fingers or toes are generally wiggling, and I shift my position constantly. It suddenly dawns on me — I’m jealous. Why can’t I be as sure of myself?

“I’m from Washington, D.C. My mother’s a Jewish cookbook writer, Joan Nathan. My father’s a lawyer. I have two older sisters. I went to Columbia, studied English. I went to England and studied acting [there]. Made a few films. Acted in a few films. I lived in New York for the last eight years, since Columbia. I moved here a few months ago. I’m loving it. My sister lives here. She’s a journalist. I also work as a private chef on the side. I used to want to be a chef for a long time. I started working in restaurants when I was 15. My mother told me I couldn’t be a chef, so I spited her and became an actor.” He laughs.

“I like interesting women who do interesting things — who are really their own people and sort of motivate you. Kindness is important. Not niceness, but kindness. There’s something false about niceness and something authentic about kind[ness]. People I’ve dated in the past have been farmers [and] painters.” He met them summering on Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve never been there, but I picture him hanging out with the Kennedys on a yacht. And jealousy keeps rearing its ugly head.

“Generally, I’ve liked sort of goyishe girls — blond, beautiful … I like brunettes, too. I like small women. I like earthy women. I like women who know how to stick their hands in soil. I’m that way, too. When I was living in Brooklyn, I had my own vegetable garden in the backyard. I can build stuff.”

I need to find this guy’s kryptonite. “What makes you difficult?” I ask. 

“I tend to be reserved sometimes … which can come across as cocky.” He nails exactly what’s been bothering me about him. He seems cocky. “I have this weird balance where I’m super cocky and secure, to just being panicked and [this] nebbishy doubting everything and wondering what I should do. That’s just the worst. You want to stay away from that aspect of yourself as much as possible.” His cockiness is his defense mechanism. But he tells me he often feels insecure. My jealousy quickly dissipates.

“I can also be very demanding — wanting to do it my way. That’s probably my biggest problem in general — wanting to do it your way, which is a good thing, [but] can also set you back in a lot of ways. I’ve done enough where I don’t feel insecure, and then I sit next to Andrew Garfield and I think he’s done so much. That’s what’s so hard is feeling like you have to justify yourself when you haven’t won your Tony or your Oscar yet, when you know [you have the potential]. I think my other big fault is I can just be too uptight. I can take things too seriously. I think I want to take things less seriously. I was grinding my teeth in New York.” Part of the reason he moved to Los Angeles was to get back in touch with what’s important. I think if people in general are in that place where they’re fully themselves, then we’re in a better place. 

“What makes you great?” I ask. 

“I think I have a unique way of looking at the world. And I’m a doer. I like to do and make things happen. I’m always looking for beauty … whether it’s visually, about character [or] about the world … I’m always trying to find beauty.”


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

 

My Single Peeps: Denise M.


Denise, 46, shows up at our interview dressed to the nines. The woman is put together — from her perfectly coiffed hair down to her Christian Louboutin shoes. A few years back, I was running around Manhattan with a friend and we met a group of tipsy girls on the street. My friend was trying to get one of the girls to join us for a drink, but her night was ending and she was on her way home. I jumped in: “How can I convince you to stay out with him?” She said, “Get me a pair of those red-bottoms and he can take me home.” It was a joke — but only sort of a joke. Women covet those shoes. And Denise knows how to rock a pair.

Denise looks high maintenance and she carries with her a heavy protective wall. So I assume she’s something she’s not when we start talking. But her wall quickly comes down and I realize my first assumption is wrong. She tells me she gets that a lot. “People who know me say, ‘When I first met you, I thought you’d be the biggest bitch — but you’re not.’ ” I think it’s our own intimidation, though. She’s really nice.

“I’ve spent my whole life in Los Angeles. I was a film major, but I ended up in the beauty industry, and I worked in the salon and on film sets for many years.” Denise was always interested in real estate, and for the last decade she made it her career. But, she tells me, “If I ever won the lottery, I would still do hair.” After a “great ride,” she rode out some tough years in real estate. “But it’s a busy time again. There’s an upswing.”

I ask her what she does for fun. “I love going to the beach. I like to travel. I like going on walks.” She clarifies that statement, as one date took her on a hike where there were rattlesnakes — “I like to walk on a path. I like to have fun, but I’m not a daredevil. I love being around friends. I like cooking. I love going to museums. I definitely have a passion for art — theatrical and fine arts. I come from a family of artists.”

She likes men who are warm, caring and ambitious. “But not neurotic. Because some men who are successful in their businesses are a little neurotic and can’t ever take a break from work — even if you go away or go out for the evening. A big turn-off to me is laziness. I can’t be with a lazy man. I like a man who takes care of himself. I’m into physical fitness, and I don’t want some guy to be lying on the couch drinking beer all day long. That’s just not my thing.”

Her marriage didn’t end well, but, Denise says, “I can always make lemonade out of lemons. It’s honestly the only way I function every day. I want to be loved and adored and respected. I want someone to be kind to my children, who are 5 and 8. I want to give that back. I’m not looking to be selfish. I want to love someone, adore them, cherish them. I want to cook for them, hang out, go for walks, watch movies and open up a bottle of wine. I’m looking for my best friend. Someone to share the rest of my life with. I was brought up by a stepfather who was a survivor from the Holocaust, so if I ended up meeting a man who was half as wonderful to his children as he was to my brother and me, I’d be a lucky lady, and they’d be very lucky children.” 


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

 

My Single Peeps: Marcos E.


I met Marcos through my friend Michael. Marcos, who is often standing by Michael’s side, is 6 feet tall with the stance and demeanor of an Israeli bodyguard. He’s not Israeli. He’s 37, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and raised in Houston. And he’s not a bodyguard. He’s a filmmaker. A serious one. He smiles, and he’s amiable, but he’s not silly. I am. 

There are times I wish I weren’t. Like last week, when I picked up my daughter from preschool and got the kids so hyper her teacher asked me to leave. I was embarrassed.  I can’t have a kid approach me without turning it into a make believe web-slinger shootout or an ugly-face contest. Marcos doesn’t have ugly-face contests. 

Marcos has a degree in finance and spent many years as a Wall Street investment banker. He then took a job at a private equity firm in Miami. “I don’t know why, but I just did not mesh with Miami. It wasn’t me. So I decided I was going to move to L.A. and use my finance background to get a job at a studio.”

After a development job, he tried his hand at directing. “I started writing and directing bad short films, which is what I consider my film school. And then I did a short film that went to Sundance. That was, I can modestly say, a really, really, good short film. Then I directed a feature [called ‘And Soon the Darkness’] for Studio Canal that was a little out of my wheelhouse, that didn’t really make any waves. I made this short film I knew was great, and I made a feature I knew was OK. It didn’t go the way I planned. It doesn’t always go the way I planned. Life doesn’t work that way.

“If I’m going to continue to work in this business and tell stories, I need to tell stories that resonate with me. I sat down and started to write this new script, and if things go well, we’ll be shooting this winter in New York.”

Marcos loves to read and loves to learn new things. He taught himself how to direct.  He started classical piano lessons last year. He spent six months learning Italian. He also runs three to four days a week and travels whenever he can.

I ask about women. “To be honest, girls tend to be younger than me — I think that’s sort of normal for most men. I’m not looking for someone who’s 20 years old. There needs to be some maturity with whomever I’m dating. [Also] a sense of humor and a desire to learn as much as I do. Looks are important, too — there’s no way around it. I like to feel attracted. When I pick them up for the 10th date, I [want to] feel the same butterflies as the second date. It’s all about the chemistry. It sounds like a cliché, but some clichés are true.”

He made good money being a finance guy, so I ask if there’s any regret over taking his chances as an artist. “If push comes to shove, I can always get a gig doing financial analyses for production companies, but if all I cared about was money, I’d be on Wall Street. Because my friends who are on Wall Street are millionaires. And they’re good people — not evil Wall Street people — and I could have done that. But being a filmmaker has enriched my life. I’ve done things, and met people, and gone places that I don’t think I’d have experienced if I was an investment banker. I guess I’ll know when I die.”


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

 

My Single Peeps: Ilysa C.


One of Ilysa’s favorite jobs was working at a coffee shop while she was in college. So it was fortuitous that I had her meet me at one to talk. Sometimes when I meet with people, it takes a bit of time for me to get a handle on their personality. Not with Ilysa. She’s nice. She’s personable. She’s never had a job she didn’t like. And she currently has two of them. She’s the youth director at Temple Ahavat Shalom, a Reform synagogue in Northridge. And she works with special-needs kids in a middle school in Van Nuys. “It’s been an amazing ride, and I love it, but it’s the school district, so it’s kind of a mess. But when you get the right group of kids, it’s an incredible job. It can go from disheartening to a high in the span of a day.” Today ended on a sad note as one of the kids was arrested in a drug bust. “It’s not in a great area, so they don’t have the opportunities that I had. It’s sad, which is why I love working with the kids at the temple. It’s such a different dynamic. They’re not all well-to-do, but they have a different vision and a different view of the world, so it’s really nice to see positivity and also to be the positive influence in their life, and to see it really helps then and there.” She’s so enthusiastic that I assumed she was new to her jobs. But she’s worked at them for 14 years and 13 years respectively. She’s just one of those people you wish you’d had in your life when you were a kid. As a depressed teen, I could have used a smiling face like hers.

Ilysa loves traveling. She tells me about Costa Rica, Argentina … and New York City. It takes me a second to register what she’s said. “You’re 37, and you just saw Manhattan for the first time?” She laughs. “I know. And I’m a Jew.” She loved the city. She loved the people, the culture, the walking. “I like people [who are] up late at night — [they were] so friendly. I had a great time.”

Ilysa’s ready for a serious relationship with a man. She wants kids — “in some capacity.” She wants him to have “a good, set group of friends because I think that it’s important to have a separation a little bit.” She also wants him to be able to financially support himself. “I tend to date men who are a little bit taller than me — I’m 5-foot-5. I’m not really into the super-skinny man, but I don’t necessarily have a preference like that. I want someone who’s able to go to a baseball game with me and have a nice time and be OK when I shout at the batter for swinging like it’s golf.” She always looks at a man’s eyes. “When someone has laughter in their eyes — lightness in their eyes — that’s a big turn-on. It’s wonderful. It’s comforting. Someone who’s positive. There’s too much negativity in the world.”

I ask her what makes her difficult. “I’m a woman,” she jokes. “I’m emotional. I wear my heart on my sleeve big-time. I’m a sap. I think that can be kind of difficult. [But] I don’t hold a grudge. I usually get over things pretty quickly. Sometimes I feel I should hold it a little longer.”  

I tell her that she’s really great at talking about herself — both good and bad. “I have two brothers who tell me what’s wrong with me — they don’t hold back.” She takes a sip of coffee. “I seem self-assured, but I’m pretty sensitive.”


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

 

My Single Peeps: Guershon M.


The most embarrassing aspect of Guershon’s life is that he’s 34 and lives with his mom, so of course I’ll lead with that. “I started film school and I [moved in with my mom], and the hardest thing for me was it seemed like [my friends] had all their s—- together. It was really hard for me to really go out a lot and date … and it’s gotten progressively harder. It’s kind of hard to say, ‘Yeah, I live at home.’ It was really embarrassing — especially when I hit 30. Then I started seeing my friends where I lived saying, ‘I got laid off. I can’t believe it, but I have to live with my parents again.’ So I said, ‘OK, this leveled the playing field a little for me.’ ”

Guershon’s not a lazy guy. He and his writing partner had some heat on a script, and when it fell through, they sat back down and kept writing. “I picked up the book ‘The Perfect Pitch’ and [the author, Ken Rotcop] had a workshop, and I called him, and he was like, ‘Yeah, come in.’ ” Ken has become a mentor to Guershon. “We got an agent through him, and our writing’s gotten better — more commercial. I’m right on that cusp — it’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when.” 

Guershon’s family is from Mexico City, though he was born in Houston. He was raised Jewish, went to a Jewish day school and had a bar mitzvah’d — but he never felt that he fit in. “I kind of had this disdain for the religion or how judgmental I felt people on Pico were, because they’re like, ‘You speak Spanish and you’re Jewish?’ ” A lot of that changed when he met Rabbi Drew Kaplan, the rabbi for Southern California Jewish Student Services. “I started connecting as a Jew, not because it was forced on me. And while I’m not a perfect fit, it is my community, and I do care about it.

I look to his feet. He’s wearing what appear to be shoes, but they’re in the shape of feet — Vibram FiveFingers. I imagine they make sense for a guy who works out as often as he does, but there’s no hiding the fact that they’re ugly. “You’d wear them on a date?” I ask. “Yeah, I would. I even have a suede pair.” I guess he saves those for finer dining.

“I want a serious relationship. I’m not playing anymore. I haven’t wanted to play for a long time. And I’m not a huge drinker — I don’t like going to the bars or clubs. So if that’s what I wanted, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you. I’ve never really had a problem getting a date; it’s, ‘What kind of date?’ Truth is, every one of my girlfriends have been beauty queens and models. I admit I’m vain. That’s what I like.  That doesn’t matter as much anymore, but I like a girl who’s thin and athletic.”

“What kind of person are you?” I ask. “I really care about people. If you’re my friend and you call me at 2 a.m. because there’s something wrong, I’ll get my ass in the car and drive down just to make sure you’re OK. I can sometimes come across as very forward or cocky, but it’s just because I’m very open. You always know where you stand with me. I’m never going to hide how I feel. If I’m sad, you know I’m sad. If I’m happy, you know I’m happy. If I’m angry, you know I’m angry. I’m the worst poker player in the world.”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Isaac S.


When Isaac sits down to speak with me, I see the rugged beard with a shot of gray around the chin, the athletic build and the tight-fitting Israeli-style clothes, and I think, “I know exactly who this guy is.” He has an Israeli accent, so when he first says to me, “In Israel I was in the army and then came here and worked as a professional dancer,” I’m not sure I’ve heard correctly. A dancer? I ask him to repeat himself.

“Ballroom dancing. I got an offer to come here and dance with a company, but after two months I didn’t like their style, so I opened up my own group.”  Two things about that sentence make me smile. One, the fact that this macho guy loves to ballroom dance. And two, I’m always impressed by the Israeli chutzpah to be in a new country for only two months, and, not liking the way something is run, they’ll start their own company.

“At that time, I was working two jobs — dancing and woodworking. [Carpentry] was my father’s work; since 10 years old, I was working with him.  And I was running from it.  I hated it.  But when I came here, I thought, ‘Let’s make money doing something I know.’ The dance group was running — it was my passion — but the woodworking was doing well.”

Although his company was growing, he hit a wall. “I felt stuck. Then I was introduced to Landmark Forum [and it] changed my life. I understand that I’m capable, and I can do way more, [so] I opened another company. And [with] this company right now, I’m actually living my dream. I know what my path is. I’m very successful — 2011 was really bad for everyone, and mine was the best of the 11 years I was here.” His new business helps brand companies, as well as build and design their facilities — often kiosks, or retail stores, restaurants and malls.  “What I like here in L.A. is there are more opportunities than [in] Israel. When you want something, go and do it. No one will stop you. No limitations. If I see any limit, I lose my drive. If I don’t see any limit, my drive can go on and on and on.”

I ask him about women. “I want a woman who has her own life, and [we] can grow from there.” He doesn’t want a woman who’s getting into a relationship from a needy place. “I want to wake up in the morning and see a beautiful woman who takes care of herself and cares about herself.” Isaac is 34 but thinks 27 or 28 is a good age for a woman: “A good state of mind for a girl. But if I meet a great girl, I’m really open [to any age].”

I ask him what he’s like as a boss; I think it says a lot about a person. “I’m very understanding, because I came from where they come from. Everyone says the customer is the first thing. For me, it’s my workers. I’ve done jobs where they mistreat my workers, and I leave the job. They are like my family — no matter what position they are.

“My vision is 10 years from now I live in my house in Costa Rica, my kids running around and a beautiful wife in a bikini running on the beach. I already have land over there. My vision is to make good businesses that work without me, and then I can really enjoy the time. Go back and forth. And that, for me, would be a good success.”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Lawrence J.


Lawrence is a South African Jew who has been in Southern California since he was 10. I met him through his sister, Francine, who briefly dated my eldest brother after they met abroad on a high-school trip. I hadn’t seen Francine in years, so she tagged along for the interview.

Lawrence is wearing a “Cat in the Hat” T-shirt and a pair of flip-flops when we meet. He’s got sleeve tattoos and an eyebrow piercing. He makes statements like, “I really want to change the world,” and he says it so sincerely and with such excitement that he reminds me of a naive college freshman taking his first sociology class. But he’s a divorced 42-year-old father with three daughters, and he’s well aware of the complexities in the world. Six years ago, Lawrence was married and working six days a week running a very successful stone and tile business he had started at 21 — designing his own lines and distributing them around the United States. “I also have some retail stores.” He emulated his father. “The way we were raised in South Africa, you had kids, had a career and made a lot of money,” Francine says. But his divorce rocked him to his foundation. “I also got sober at the same time,” he adds.

“I restructured my business, so I put in 10 hours a week at the office. It always used to be just about money — that’s how I was raised. Now, I just want to love everyone.” His sister jokes with him, “Who are you? Do I know you?” He continues, “In my personal life I’m trying to be really honest and ethical and present, and trying to bring my business in line with that. I’m trying to have every person who works for me get paid days every month to go out and work in their community. We look for anyone who’s struggling and look for ways to help them. A couple of years ago, some of my staff who work in my San Diego store went on a mission to Mexico to help build houses for people who couldn’t afford to build their own homes.”

Lawrence tells me about getting his toenails painted with his daughters — “I don’t want to miss out on something if they’re doing it. My exterior looks like it’s really out there, but my values and everything are traditional. Family’s important to me. I’m looking for someone who’s close to their family — that’s really, really important to me. I’m looking for someone who’s spiritual, grounded and has a strong sense of self. Spiritual practice would be No. 1. Intelligence would be No. 2. What I’m craving more than anything in my life is connectivity — and the only part of my life where I haven’t found that is in a relationship.”

I ask him what he sees his life like with a girlfriend. “I’d love to travel with them, meditate with them, do yoga with them, camp and hike … do one of the trails — as long as they’ll protect me from the bears. I’m scared of the bears,” he says. Francine jokes, “and the dark.” He agrees, “A little bit. I slept with a light on until I was 36. It didn’t dawn on me that I wasn’t scared of the dark until I got divorced. I didn’t know I liked stinky cheese either. And olives.” He laughs. “I believe in fairy tales. I love romantic movies. My daughters look at me in the middle of romantic movies, and I’m crying.”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Alexa N.


Alexa initially wrote to me because she was interested in one of my single peeps. She attached a picture of herself — a headshot, where she looked like she was 14 years old. My friend never responded, probably fearful of getting arrested on a date with a ninth-grader. But I invited her to the Anti-Valentine’s Day event sponsored by The Journal. She came with a friend, and after the event they hung out with my crew at a bar. Apparently she’s of legal drinking age. Alexa’s kept in touch with a few of my friends. I saw her last week at my friend (and fellow single peep) Eli’s Shabbat dinner. She looks a bit like Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” — a cartoon character come to life. When she walked in, she said “hi,” then went to the kitchen and helped prepare the food. Because she’s sweet like that. Later, a girl I know leaned over me to dip a chip in guacamole and dropped a dollop of it on my shoe. She said, “Oh,” and then threw the chip in her mouth. Before I had the chance to stand, Alexa swiped off the guacamole with a paper towel, tossed it in the trash and went back to making the salad. I said, “You will make the greatest wife ever.” And then I turned to my friend. “And this is why you’re still single.”

Alexa’s parents are from Mexico City. She didn’t learn to speak English until she went to school. She’s wanted to be an actor and director since she was 9. She went to community college near her home in Irvine, but decided to drop out of school at 19 and move to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time.

“I live with my best friend and my brother. I enjoy yoga, I’m getting into kickboxing. I’m very healthy. I’m vegan because of a new discovery that I’m allergic to dairy. I haven’t eaten meat since I was 16. It’s easy to be kosher now,” she jokes.

“I want someone who’s smart, someone who’s funny, someone who’s ambitious and has a passion. A nice guy. If he’s being a [jerk] in some way, I get turned off. My friends think it’s attractive. I’m not like most 21-year-olds. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t party. I’m low-key. I don’t care about the finer things. I’d rather be eco-friendly than have a nice car or a big house. If I have a lot of money when I’m older, I don’t want to have more than I need. That’s why I don’t shop that much. I don’t spend money on stupid things.”

I make fun of the spandex pants she’s wearing. She laughs. “I hardly get dressed up. I’d love to be in yoga pants every day if I could. I hate jeans. I’ll wear them, but if I’m not comfortable in what I’m wearing, I’m very fidgety and [don’t feel] confident.

“I want to raise my kids in a suburban area. But you never know. I change my mind every day. The only thing I do know is that I want kids. And I want to marry a good, Jewish guy. And a huge thing for me is communication. If there’s no communication for me, then there’s nothing — because there are going to be arguments, but if we can’t see both sides of it, then it’ll build up. It’s like me and my roommate — the only way we get through things is by talking about our problems, talking about what we need to work on, and we grow from there. And that’s how I see my husband. We hit rough patches, but we’ll grow through it together, and we’ll become closer.”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Ruthie B.


Ruthie, who is 81 now, was raised in Chicago. An abused child, she was sent away to live on a farm called Glen Eyrie in Delavan, Wis. “You know what it was like in the ’30s if you had a mean mother — no one talked about it. I know how to milk cows, kill chickens.”

Although she’s Jewish, she learned every Christian hymn in the book there. “That’s where I started to become a musician.” She took the train there every weekend, and in the summers for many years. “I still take trains today.”

When she was 17, she went to a music school in Aspen, Colo., run by the folk singer Richard Dyer-Bennet. She lived with him way up in the mountains for two years, until she got a scholarship to Bennington College, where she majored in anthropology. Her teacher, a Nobel laureate, told her to major in literature and she responded, “No. If I major in literature, I’d have nothing to write about.” She flew out to California to finish a paper, and that’s where she met her first husband, a clinical psychologist and father of her three children. I say first husband, because Ruthie has been married three times. Her second and third husbands passed away; six years ago, she lost the husband she calls her beshert.

She speaks so quickly — and jumps from tangent to tangent so often — that I finally grab her by the arms to ask her something, hoping it will slow her down. I hold on as she answers, but this leads her to another story, and she’s off and running again. So I give up and let her speak.

Ruthie’s spent most of her life on the radio, where she got the nickname “Uncle Ruthie” after doing a sketch satirizing all the on-air personalities with the nickname “uncle.” At some point she got a teaching degree, with a focus in special education. “I have worked with every single kind of special-needs kid there is. For the last 10 years, I’ve been with blind kids. I’m a music teacher at the Blind Childrens Center. I teach children from birth to second grade.”

I ask her when she’s retiring. She says, “Someone asked me about retiring and I said, ‘Maybe one day,’ and the principal said, ‘Never. She won’t ever retire.’ ‘What if I were to drop over dead?’ ‘We’ll sit you against the couch and go on with the song.’ ”

Her philosophy about school is, “Learning has to be fun. If you’re not excited about what you’re learning, there’s no point. The purpose of school isn’t to have knowledge thrown into you, it’s to teach you to teach yourself. To be self-winding. All your life, you’re going to be learning.”

“What do you want in a man?” I ask. “He should be breathing,” she jokes. “He should be progressive and vital and living in the world. I will not go to football games. I like tennis, and track and field. I like Olympics. I want someone who’s a left-wing, politically active person who does not object to taxes being raised. I want somebody who likes theater, arts and music. And has a very active life of his own. I don’t want anyone who says to me, ‘How come you’re so busy?’ I want someone who’s also busy. Someone who’s had a happy marriage. Someone who’s had good relationships with women. At this point, I could sum it up in one word who I’d like to meet — anybody.”

If you want to hear more of Ruthie, tune in to “Halfway Down the Stairs With Uncle Ruthie” on KPFK 90.7 FM on 8:30 Saturday mornings.

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Gary L.


Gary’s brother, Jason, is a recent single peep. And, like Jason, Gary’s a nice, easygoing guy. But, he tells me, this wasn’t always the case. In college, just as he was launching an online magazine, his personality started to shift. He became moody and paranoid, and he was riddled with anxiety. And then one morning he woke up with double vision. He went to a doctor, who thought it might have been from a hockey injury. During a CAT scan, Gary fell asleep and had a nightmare that he was being chased by the hospital staff. Suddenly he snapped awake, and found himself strapped down to a hospital bed. It wasn’t a dream. They ran tests, discovering his glucose levels had dropped so low that his brain was no longer functioning properly. They also found a tumor on his pancreas. It had been slowly growing for 10 years. As soon as it was removed, all the strange behavior disappeared and the old Gary came back.

Gary now lives with his younger brother, who is a partner in their T-shirt line, Nerdy Shirts. He is also relaunching his online magazine, A.Refuge — the Web site is arefuge.com. “The goal is to inspire people and motivate them to get involved with charities, and highlight artists that we look up to. I’m trying to focus on inspiring people. That’s my No. 1 goal.” I ask him what that means. “Inspire them to be better versions of themselves. I’m pretty persistent.”

When it comes to dating, he’s looking for a real relationship. “I’m like a prude in some ways. I’ve never had a one-night stand. If it’s something that’s not purposeful, it feels like a waste of time to me. Once I’m with a girl, if it feels like it’s building toward something, the whole prude title goes out the door. It’s like a two-stage process. Looks get them in the door, and personality keeps them there. And they’re both pretty rigid requirements, I guess. The last girl — who happened to be a model — loved comic books, video games, cartoons … all the goofy guy things that nerds like. I was like, ‘Oh rad, we’re gonna be best friends.’ All of a sudden she started flirting with me, and I realized she was into me. Then she bailed on me when I got sick. She was perfect except for that.”

I ask about personality preferences. “It’s like one of those things where you need enough of the pieces lined up, but a few jagged edges to show you new things.” He continues, “A good sense of humor, someone who understands sarcasm and is OK with a little bit of back-and-forth ribbing.” Ambition is also important to him. “I don’t care what it is. If you want to be the best goddamn waitress in the world, that’s fine. But aim for the top.”

I ask him what he’s learned from his experience with the tumor. He says, “There’s no way I don’t feel super lucky and appreciate that it was averted. No one would wish this on anyone, but it wasn’t a bad experience, because of everything I learned and the people I met. The hospital staff at Cedars-Sinai — I felt so loved. They’re strangers, but they’d come in on their off shifts just to say hi.

“My favorite thought to have in my head through it all was of Calvin’s dad from ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ Every time something bad would happen, Calvin’s dad would justify it and make it OK by saying, ‘You’re building character.’ I love that. They’d say, ‘We’re taking out the catheter now.’ I’d say, ‘OK, I’m going to build some character now.’ ”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Altara M.


Altara is an only child, raised in New York. She wants to find a man from the East Coast. And when she wants something, she goes after it. That’s how she got in this column.

“At 27, I bought myself a little Mercedes. I focused on something I was really good at. I sold advertising. Because I had so much success in that, I was able to go to Sundance and become a journalist, do my own radio show, do some acting work. Because I know my pattern of behavior, when I say I’m going to do this as my full-time job, it frees me up to do it.”

She’s 32 now and wants to get her real-estate license and start selling homes. But her passion is entertainment. “When you’re passionate about something, you’ll put all your energy into making it successful because you deem it important.” She tells me about the documentary she’s been working on — “It’s going to be out of this world.”

She’s an only child, and, unlike someone like me — the third of four siblings — she is brimming with self-esteem. She doesn’t seem to have a fear of failure, or any self-deprecation. “A casting director called me in to play the younger version of Barbra Streisand. So when I get things now, they’re pretty big.” I ask her if she got the job. “No. It went to a girl who had her nose and her eyes.”

She takes charge of the interview and asks me, “Do you want to know what I like to do?” I shrug. “Sure.” She says, “Hiking, working out, anything that has to do with working hard and pushing myself. I like to do Bikram yoga when I feel like being really cruel to myself. I hike Runyon [Canyon] five to seven days a week for about an hour and a half per day. I go to the gym for body-sculpting classes and Pilates classes, and I like to use the treadmill and talk to my friends. I love movies, of course. I love to do new things. When I go on a date, I like to do new things. If they do the same thing the last guy did, it’s unoriginal.”

“So, no dinners?” I ask. She says, “It comes down to original conversation. Show me your real personality. Even if it’s just grabbing a bite to eat, if the person is interesting, who cares what we’re doing.”

She wants to meet a man who isn’t on the same page as her — “maybe a little further ahead. Maybe a little older. I’d like to meet someone in the business out here, but I’m not opposed to meeting a doctor.” A Jewish woman looking for a doctor? Shocker.

“I’m looking for the real deal. I’m looking for a soul mate. My parents have been married for 39 years. I think they’re perfect for one another.”

Altara didn’t grow up religious, but she recently started going to Shabbat dinners hosted by a Chabad rabbi. “Everyone I met most recently in the Jewish community is amazing, and it’s like everyone knows each other. I realize I like having that “family” out here. I didn’t realize how powerful it could be. The people I’m hanging out with are amazing, and I guess I didn’t realize that until I needed it.”

She’s decided to start saying yes to more things in life. “I think that’s the moral of the story when it comes to my life. Sometimes you just have to keep moving forward when it comes to doing things. Choose new avenues — and keep yourself open and not be closed off.”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

JDate study claims more Jewish marriage matches than its competitors


The Jewish dating Web site JDate recently announced results from a study that claims the site is responsible for facilitating more Jewish marriages than all other dating Web sites combined. The study, commissioned in-house by JDate’s parent company, Spark Networks, and conducted by the research company ResearchNow, reportedly was based on a survey of 948 Jewish Internet users who have married since 2003. Of those surveyed, 52 percent said they met their match on JDate, compared with Match.com, which facilitated 17 percent, and eHarmony, which can claim 10 percent.

Spark Networks released the results of the study on a single-page press release that contained several added statistics to support its claims, but did not provide any additional supporting materials, including how the participants were selected and specific details on what questions were asked. Requests to obtain the full study were denied by Spark Networks and by ResearchNow, which operates under terms of strict confidentiality.

Steven M. Cohen, a research professor of Jewish social policy for Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner, said that while the results of the study may be credible, they are not verifiable.

“The recently conducted study, while promising, doesn’t provide enough of the critical details that we need to assess the validity of its claims,” Cohen said during a phone interview. “It’s like getting an untested product from an unknown manufacturer — it may be a good product, but there could be serious flaws.”

In addition to claiming credit for the majority of Jewish marriages facilitated online, the study also notably claims that 63 percent of all Jewish dates since 2008 were fostered by JDate (up 6 percent since 2003), compared with Match.com’s 19 percent and eHarmony’s 7 percent; that 76 percent of those Jews who used an online dating service used JDate; and more than half the Jews who have married since 2008 report having used an online dating site in their search for a partner.

If true, those are the kinds of claims that JDate, which bills itself as “the premier Jewish singles community online,” should be proud to publicize. So why is the company refusing to disclose the full results of the study?

Cohen wondered whether JDate’s parent company fears subjecting the study to the academic community’s scientific standards. But he also said that it is not unusual for a commercial enterprise to conduct its own research and use select claims in their advertising. “The behavior is not the most admirable, but it is not illegal or unethical,” Cohen said.

Cohen said he sees value in the company regardless of the results, saying that the very existence of JDate promotes Jewish marriage at a time when more and more Jews are marrying later — or maybe not at all — or, alternatively, intermarrying. “Right now we are seeing significant adverse demographic consequences of nonmarriage and intermarriage for the Jewish population in America,” he said. “And JDate promises to promote marriage and probably in-marrying,” and that as long “as we can promote marriage and in-marriage, we can promote the stability, if not the expansion of, the Jewish population in the coming generations.”

My Single Peeps: Michele K.


As soon as Michele sits down with me, she says, “I’m crap at talking about myself.” Hear it with a British accent, and it’s 10 times cuter. I’ve known Michele for years — she’s a friend of a friend — and I realize I don’t know a whole lot about her. She really is crap at talking about herself. She’s a great listener. And unlike the rest of us who moved to Los Angeles because we’re desperate for attention due to getting lost in big, loud families and having dead fathers (just me?), Michele is quietly comfortable with who she is.

Michele grew up in England, in a small Jewish community outside of London. “We grew up kosher, Shabbat, and that’s kind of how everyone was there.” But, she says, “There were very few Jews in my high school.” To counter that, her parents sent her to a Zionist camp, “which was all about Israel. I spent a year in Israel when I was 18 and made aliyah when I was 27. I lived in Israel for seven years. I grew up to be a Zionist.”

She moved to Los Angeles 11 years ago. “Israel’s not an easy place to live. I had the best time, a great life socially, but work-wise and living-wise it’s a tough place. Israelis are tough. Energy’s tough.” 

Michele runs her own business, Mak Designs. “I do design consultancy. I go to homes or events and help people figure out what colors they want. I don’t even need to buy new stuff. I’ll help them organize their house. I do a lot of weddings.”

She’s 43, but is open to dating anyone between 35 and 50. “I want to have a family. I think that’s important. I’m definitely interested in someone who wants to have kids.” She’s also spiritual and looking for someone similarly minded, who’s “not just living in the physical.” Although she wasn’t raised in a spiritual home, it always appealed to her. “I was always interested in angels and going to psychics and meditation, and it just grew and grew. I was always looking for ways to change and ways to grow. I don’t think you can change in this world unless you have some kind of faith, some kind of spiritual path, some kind of connection to God initially.”

I ask her more about being spiritual, and she says, “I don’t want to freak people out. I wouldn’t use the word normal, but I’m a very grounded, practical person. I believe in the physical, I’m grounded, I’m on this planet. I think you have to balance the spiritual and the physical. Some people go off on a mountain and meditate, but what are they actually doing with their lives?”

I wind my way back to the subject of dating and ask her if she works at it. “Oh God, no one can fault me for not trying. I date. I’ve been in lots of relationships. I broke up with someone recently and started dating again. Even though I get to the point of ‘I’m not going on a f—-ing blind date ever again,’ I do. I just think I haven’t met the right guy. I’m not looking for Mr. Regular. I think I’m always looking for something more. And I think those guys aren’t easy to find.” 

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Libby E.


Out of all that Libby says to me when we meet, this seems the most unnecessary: “I have a strong personality. I’m not a wallflower. I’m not a shrinking violet.” She is very clearly none of these things.  She is confident, smart and an alpha female. Yet, she says, “I think I’d do really well with someone who would challenge me and call me out on my s—-.  The big problem in my last relationship was I was the head of the household. I was the decision maker. I subconsciously attracted that kind of man, but it’s not what I want.”

Libby is sitting to the side of me at the head of a long table of people at Starbucks.  I ask her if she wants to move to a more private area to talk. She shakes her head. Later she tells me, “I know how to ask for what I need,” and I see that Libby has no problem making noise to get what she wants.

Born in Israel, raised in Manhattan and educated at Harvard with a degree in economics, Libby moved to Los Angeles to become an Oscar-winning producer.  She climbed the ranks and “then I got the job I was working toward — director of development.  I had that for a year and realized I didn’t want to be in entertainment at all, and it wasn’t a reason to get out of bed every day. I wasn’t in it for the love of story or the love of craft. I was in it for the fun, the glamour … and it wasn’t cutting it for me.”  After a four-year stint at The Jewish Federation, she now works as a fundraiser for the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Libby was married for two years, but the marriage recently ended in divorce.  “The two biggest things I learned from my divorce: 1) Love does not conquer all. That’s really a fantasy. I still love my ex very much. We’re friends. We went to a Dodger game recently. Just because you love someone does not mean they’re the right partner for you. 2) You can’t change anyone. The only thing you can change is yourself and the way you act, and think, and speak, and are, in the world.”

I ask her if she’s ready to settle down with someone new. “This is not rebound city.  I would say that one of my most defining characteristics is that I work on my [self] and don’t play the victim. It might be my No. 1 pet peeve.  Lots and lots of people play victims to their circumstances,  and I can’t stand it.”

I ask her about men.  “I would say probably the most important thing I look for in a guy is maturity. Funny, yes. Handsome, yes. But No. 1 is mature.”  She continues, “He has to be passionate about something.  I don’t care what it is, but he has to have a zest for life and exploration. An intellectual curiosity.”  Although Libby loves running marathons and studies Krav Maga, she has that intellectual curiosity she craves in a partner. “I’m obsessed with Wikipedia. I’m a knowledge junkie. I will hear something on NPR or see it on TV or read an article and have to find out more about it. It’s just kind of the way my mind works.”

After Libby says goodbye, my friend, who’s working on a screenplay next to me, looks up and points to his ears. “These headphones block out about 75 percent of sound, and I could still hear her loud and clear.” Hopefully the interested men will, too.

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

Author charged in Jewish online dating service scam


American author Mitchell Gross was indicted for allegedly scamming women he met on an online Jewish dating service.

Gross, 61, of Marietta, Ga., pleaded not guilty to fraud and money laundering charges when he was arraigned late last week in federal court in Atlanta, according to reports.

He has written novels under the pen name Mitchell Graham that include a trilogy of fantasy fiction books, “The Fifth Ring,” “The Emerald Cavern” and “The Ancient Legacy.”

In 2006, according to the indictment, Gross met two women on an unnamed online Jewish dating service and bilked them out of $4.4 million, convincing them to invest in a fake company he set up.

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