By Rich bockmann
Beginning next month, the Little Neck Jewish Center, at 49-10 Little Neck Pkwy.,ï»¿ will devote one Friday night Shabbat a month to Simcha Singles — a night for the community’s companionless Chosen People to connect with each other and their religion.
“Typically, a synagogue focuses on the needs of the family. In much of our programs, we reach out to families with young children,” said Rabbi Gordon Yaffe. “We have come to the understanding that there’s a large community of singles that are Jewish.”
Yaffe said the idea was brought to him by Warren Shapiro, a member of the congregation who recently reconnected with the synagogue.
“I was tired of the singles scene at the bars … not getting anywhere,” Shapiro said. “So I said, ‘I have my faith, let’s do something.’”
Shapiro said he had experience running a singles group some years ago in Great Neck, L.I.
Yaffe said he would like to provide singles with the type of community that couples and families are getting.
“Ours is the reality of a world where people don’t get married at 20 or 21,” he said. “Traditionally, typically when a child is born you have a few hopes you articulate at the beginning of life. You pray that they are dedicated to the performance of good deeds, they study the Torah and that they stand beneath the wedding canopy, which is another way of saying getting married …. In a sense the ultimate goal from the traditional Jewish perspective is for the members of the community to grow up and have children and pass on the traditions.”
Yaffe said his synagogue is finally coming to recognize it can have a role in facilitating connections between people who want to do so in a religious environment.
“In a real way the singles program should be there with the hope that some unions will be made,” he said.
The first Simcha Singles will be held Sept. 16. The service will be open to all, and afterward Yaffe said there will be guided discussions on topics singles are interested in, such as the Jewish perspective on relationships, sex and politics.
“Things singles might be interested in discussing — not child-rearing or parenting,” he said.
Shapiro added that if the meeting really takes off, he would like to expand the program to include events such as Sunday brunches, karaoke nights and trips to museums. He said there are singles groups out there for Jews, such as Long Island Jewish Singles and the dating website J-Date, but they are not connected to the synagogue.
“Probably the most important thing is providing a space to sit and talk and be together — to feel the sanctity of shabbat and share with other singles,” said Yaffe.
The Little Neck Jewish center is a conservative, egalitarian synagogue serving northeast Queens and western Nassau County.
Those interested in more information on Simcha Singles may contact Shapiro by e-mail at email@example.com.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.