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Get-together for singles

Increasingly popular dinners help older Jewish singles connect with others.

April 12, 2010|By Brianna Bailey

After Temple Isaiah president Peter Small’s wife of nine years died in December 2008, he decided to overcome his grief and help other Jewish singles connect by organizing potluck dinners at his Newport Beach synagogue.

“As I was going through my process of grieving, I thought ‘how do I get back into socializing again?’” said Small, 56, who works as a historical impressionist, doing dramatic portrayals of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, among other historic figures.

The dinners are gaining popularity and have filled a gap for older local Jewish singles, organizers said.

“A lot of the temples are geared toward families, especially kids,” said Marcia Rosenberg, singles director for Mirage Jewish Community Center of Orange County, who has helped promote Small’s potlucks. “There aren’t a lot of synagogues or temples that are geared toward singles of any age, let alone people who are age 40-plus. No one in Orange County is really doing anything for singles in this age group; everything is for younger people.”

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Linda Krueger-Small, 68, died Dec. 15, 2008, after the car she was driving was struck on the railroad tracks in Anaheim.

She had been an active member of Temple Isaiah’s small congregation at the time of her sudden death.

“I was more in shock than grief by the whole thing at first,” Small said.

Krueger-Small died just one week before Small’s 55th birthday.

“I didn’t expect to be celibate for the rest of my life,” he said.

Small met his late wife some 17 years ago after they both began organizing potluck dinners at a synagogue in Anaheim Hills. Those events proved so successful that three couples who met at the dinners would eventually marry, including the Smalls.

The potluck dinners at Temple Isaiah have attracted about 30 people each month since Small first started organizing the events in October.

Small said he hopes to continue to see turnout grow. There’s also been a shortage of single Jewish men at the dinners, he said.

The next dinner, 6 p.m. Friday, will coincide with Temple Isaiah’s celebration of Jewish Independence Day. Small will perform a dramatic portrayal of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir at a service after the dinner.

The dinners are a way for local Jewish singles to get to know each other better, organizers said.

“There are a lot of people that stay home because they don’t know what to do,” said Newport Beach resident Felicia Wiseman, 77, who helps Small organize the events. “This is like a celebration, and it’s an excuse to get together.”

If You Go

What: Potluck for Jewish singles

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Where: Temple Isaiah, 2401 Irvine Ave.

Information: Participants are asked to bring either a vegetarian or dairy dish.

Contact Felicia Wiseman at (949) 760-0660 about what to bring.


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