Baby Boomers’ Rocky Road to Jewish Love

Navigating 21st Century Dating Scene Tough for Older Singles

Second Time Around: Judy Acs Seidman Zucker and Alan Zucker dated outside the faith after their first marriages ended, then found each other on JDate.
Samantha Zucker
Second Time Around: Judy Acs Seidman Zucker and Alan Zucker dated outside the faith after their first marriages ended, then found each other on JDate.

By Emily Shire

Published May 19, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
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“When I was 25, I needed someone who was going to be successful and ambitious,” said Sarah. “My husband was so ambitious he wasn’t home at all. Now that I’m older, I see what I want in someone.”

The elephant in the room for single Jewish boomers is religion. Second marriages are twice as likely as first ones to be interfaith, said Sylvia Barack Fishman, a professor of contemporary Jewish life at Brandeis University.

As Jewish singles age, they are more likely to marry outside the faith, Fishman explained, and less likely to face pressure from their families to marry someone who is Jewish.

“As the pool gets narrower, other things become more important,” she said.

“If I conjured the most perfect guy, he’d be Jewish,” Weinberger said, yet she sees benefits of marrying outside the faith. “With the Seders, you’d never have to argue over whose family’s house you’re going to. He’d come with me, and I could go to his family for Christmas.”

Another benefit to dating later in life is that it often frees Jews to date non-Jews since they are not looking to start a family.

“Now that I’ve raised my kids, I am much more open,” said one Westchester woman. Still, she wants her children to marry within the faith.

But being open doesn’t come without difficulties. Judy Acs Seidman Zucker, 50, was originally willing to date outside of Judaism after her first marriage had produced Jewish children. However, when a date got annoyed that she didn’t pick up her phone during Passover, she realized, “I needed to date someone who knew where I was coming from.”

Regardless of religion’s role in dating patterns, boomers all come to dating with a clearer sense of what’s important to them than they had when they were younger. As one of the Westchester women said, “In your 20s, you saw people the way you wanted to see them. When you’re older, you become more realistic, but you also become less judgmental.”

That understanding of others is an essential advantage to boomers. JDate’s Winter believes the key to finding one’s bashert (soulmate) later in life is being open to new people and possibilities. “Let someone unfold and show you who they really are, unencumbered by your expectations.”

Emily Shire is a writer based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @eshire and find her work at www.emilyshire.com.


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