Jewish singles set to meet in group for second year

Warren Shapiro (l.) and Rabbi Gordon Yaffe shake hands inside the Little Neck Jewish Center, where they work to plan Year 2 of a successful singles program. Photo by Phil Corso
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One year ago, Little Neck Jewish Center member Warren Shapiro worked with his synagogue to launch a monthly singles night with hopes that he and his congregation companions could find their bashert, or special someone.

Now, as the group gears up to launch Year 2, Shapiro has a girlfriend to call his own.

“We had a wine and cheese event, and she was sitting by herself. So I started talking to her,” Shapiro said of Ilana Baumgarten, his girlfriend of six months. “We hit it off and now I’m hoping we can see the same outcome for somebody else.”

This fall, the Little Neck Jewish Center, at 49-10 Little Neck Pkwy., will kick off its second year of Friday night Simcha Singles events full of various ways to bring singles from Long Island, Queens and even Manhattan together.

Rabbi Gordon Yaffe helped facilitate the first year’s events and said he was hoping to see the program grow as it continued into its sophomore season.

“We wanted to recognize a large constituency in the community, which we felt wasn’t being provided with a comfortable place to experience Judaism,” Yaffe said. “Here, singles can come together in a Jewish atmosphere with the goal of giving people the opportunity to find that special person.”

Last year’s Simcha Singles events included relationship discussions, Israeli Independence Day celebrations, trivia nights and social discussions. Shapiro said he was working to bring similar programming to the synagogue this year with some new additions.

Shapiro said he would continue to work with the synagogue and its members to provide the most rewarding programming for the singles, with the ultimate goal of building connections. He had already helped run a singles group years ago in Great Neck, L.I., he said, but saw Little Neck as a more energized venture because of the engaging programming opportunities provided by the Little Neck Jewish Center.

“It’s worth a try,” Shapiro said. “We didn’t have a home for Jewish singles before we started doing these.”

Simcha Singles has collected a database of more than 60 singles throughout the metropolitan area, Yaffe said, and will continue to grow as long as there is a need for its services.

“We want to help to make this a priority on the synagogue agenda,” Yaffe said. “It is a chance to connect with the Jewish traditions. That’s what makes this unique, because these are not simply social programs.”

The Little Neck Jewish center is a conservative, egalitarian synagogue serving members throughout northeast Queens and western Nassau County.

Those interested in more information on Simcha Singles may contact Shapiro by e-mail at or visit the group’s website at

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Posted 1:59 am, September 20, 2012
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