Two longtime friends – one married, one single – are planning a summer happy hour to bring Jewish singles together.
Nancy Silverman and Shari Jaffe first met 18 years ago at a parent-toddler program at Har Zion Congregation. Silverman had just moved to Phoenix and was looking to meet people; the two became fast friends.
Today Silverman has been married for nearly 25 years and Jaffe is single, or as Silverman prefers to call it, “looking.” After realizing that there aren’t many opportunities for Jewish singles in the Valley to meet each other – aside from online dating sites – the two decided to organize a happy hour.
Silverman says they got the idea after hearing her young niece and nephews talk about what a fabulous time they had at Mazelpalooza – a Christmas Eve party for Jewish young adults up to age 40 hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix at a night club. “They always meet people and then that’s it, the event is over.” Then Jaffe attended a match.com happy hour that attracted so many people that organizers had to turn some away.
“I said to Shari, that’s what we need to do – have a happy hour,” Silverman says. She said that those they spoke to about it said, “ ‘We need this so badly in our city.’ There are a lot of Jewish organizations that within them might have social events, but there’s not just one open Jewish Phoenix event going on for singles to meet singles.”
From time to time, the Valley’s Jewish agencies have helped fund Jewish singles programming. But even as far back as a decade ago, the communal shift had changed from singles programming to general adult programming, according to an April 2005 article in Jewish News (“Wanted: More for singles: Existing programs lack coordinated communal support”).
Today, the Jewish News community directory lists four singles groups, all run by volunteers: Active Jewish Singles 40s & 50s; Happenings, for singles ages 60-plus; JASS, for singles ages 55-80; and Valley Jewish Singles, for singles ages 50-plus. Additionally, The Dana Cheryl Beitscher Charitable Foundation offers funding for singles programs. (Visit jewishaz.com for details.)
Jaffe and Silverman decided to not put age restrictions on the happy hour – besides having to be age 21 or older – because one of Silverman’s sisters is “married to a guy who is 12 years older and they have a fabulous marriage” and she has friends who are in successful relationships with men much younger than them.
“Every single person is trying to meet somebody and if you’re Jewish and you’re trying to meet somebody Jewish, it’ll just be a fun night to come and mix and mingle,” Silverman says.
Both women grew up in Conservative Jewish homes and call themselves traditionalists.
“It was always something important to our families to marry a Jewish person,” Silverman says. “It just makes life easier, as my parents always said.”
Jaffe adds, “You got to keep the tradition going.”
The women are excited to offer an alternative to online dating sites. “We’re firm believers that you can’t really know somebody until you’re in front of them and have a personality to go by,” Silverman says. “You can’t judge somebody by a picture and I think that’s the fault and the downfall of these silly dating sites.”