I had been off of JDate for a while (maybe even five years) when in November of 2010, someone suddenly emailed me through JDate. My curiosity got the best of me and I sprung for a six-month membership. I went out with the person who initially emailed me, but after two dates I knew he was not “The One.” To maximize my investment, for the first time, I really spent time on my profile and adjusted my search to widen the pool of interesting people! It has always been a challenge for me, as an observant Jew, comfortable in both the Orthodox and Conservative worlds, to meet someone I felt comfortable with religiously. By widening my search I had to accept the possibility of meeting and talking with people who were in various places religiously (maybe even divorced or with children) because maybe, just maybe, I was preventing myself from finding the right person by being too exclusive.
In February of 2011, I found Eli’s profile. It was an average, somewhat out-of-focus picture, but included a well-written profile and it was humorous! It seemed we had a lot in common, so I marked his profile and he emailed me. We chatted online for a while. If it’s possible to hit it off over email and the phone, I think we did. His emails were well written. They included a combination of questions, praise of what I wrote and sharing of himself. He loved hearing about my educational consulting and Siddur-writing business. I liked hearing about his muffin company.
We finally decided to meet on March 23, 2011 at the Starbucks in Englewood, New Jersey where I lived. He drove out to me from Queens and we both knew right away we would probably last for a long time. He seemed so down to earth. I enjoyed hearing about his family and his business, a muffin distribution company. It was the first time I was dating someone divorced with two children, but it didn’t seem to bother me.
After the first date, there were never any games. I never even doubted his interest. He called very soon to talk more and we went out at least two more times in the next week. He once drove to pick me up in New Jersey, brought me back to Queens to visit one of his favorite lounges, have some drinks, head out salsa dancing and then brought me all the way back to New Jersey. He was such a gentleman, always holding doors for me. My friends thought he sounded too good to be true.
It turned out, that although he had taken some time off from Jewish observance after his divorce, he was from an observant family, had spent significant time in Israel and was looking to return to observance. Within the first month of us dating, I went to a Pesach Seder at his brother’s house and he began visiting my community for Shabbat. It turned out we had mutual friends in common as well. By now, everyone in our community Friday night minyan knows Eli as the muffin man. It’s hard to remember the minyan without him.
I met his kids for the first time (now 6 and 8) that May and met his parents the following month in June. Although we were taking a lot of big steps, we decided to take things slow before deciding we were serious. I had never dated anyone for more than four months and knew I had to be comfortable with dating someone who had children as well! I worked at Camp Ramah for the summer, but we continued seeing each other and grew even closer. We went on a cruise in late August, and spent even more time with both of our families after that trip and over Rosh Hashanah. After six months of dating, we were talking more seriously about the long term and marriage.
Eli and I went to visit his family in Florida with his kids in April of 2012 (just after our one-year anniversary). He asked me to marry him (with his kids also) while on one knee on the way out of the Universal Studios theme park after we finished a matzah-sandwich dinner. He said, “I thought about asking you in front of the castle at Magic Kingdom, but I don’t need a castle to ask you to be my queen.”
We began planning our wedding right away and got married August 19, 2012 at the Richfield Regency in Verona, New Jersey. His uncle from Israel was our Rabbi and we planned everything to be a modern, yet traditional Jewish wedding.
After this, I definitely recommend JDate and have spoken to people about the importance of having an open mind, widening their search preferences and looking for more than a “hot” guy in their matches. Sometimes people look better in person than in their picture!
Sara and Eli
Englewood, New Jersey