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Single Jewish women

by: Alexandra J Wall - Last updated: 2003-10-23


Finding a partner

So you’re over 35, single and want to find a husband — quick. Many a Jewish woman finds herself in this predicament. So like a superhero, author Rachel Greenwald is coming to her rescue.

A gruduate of Harvard Business School in the US, Greenwald has marketed everything from jewelry to bottled water and is using what she learned to help her fellow women snag a man. Among her more salient tips: Always wear a push-up bra — after 35, it can’t hurt.

That kind of advice may prompt some to ask, “For this she went to Harvard?” But Greenwald knows of what she speaks. The Denver consultant wrote “Find a Husband After 35,” which offers what she calls “a simple 15-step program.”

Simple, sure. But also exhausting, no doubt.

“In any goal, if you dedicate yourself to something 100 percent, before a lot of other things in your life, your chances are much greater,” said Greenwald, speaking from her home in Denver. “If you’re unemployed and you really want a job, at some point you have to decide your job search will be your No. 1 priority. The good news is, it’s short term, 12 to 18 months.”

Greenwald believes that if a woman fully dedicates herself to what she calls “The Program,” it’s only a matter of time before she’ll be prancing down the aisle in a white poofy dress.

The book came out last month, but already it’s on its way to becoming a smash success. It was named the best dating book by Earlier this week, it was ranked No. 34 in sales on Her Web site at offers more of the same, as well as support groups for women on “The Program.”

Greenwald is hot on the speakers’ circuit, talking at sold-out seminars across the country. She hopes to become a full-time dating coach.

“I’m really passionate about what I do, and I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to have women say to you that they’ve found someone they never thought existed. That’s the best thing I can think of to do with my life.”

Interestingly enough, Greenwald never found herself in that predicament. She knew she wanted a husband and a family — she’s 39 now and has three kids — and not long after graduating with a B.A. in psychology from Wellesley College, she began hunting for Mr. Right.

“I was precocious,” said Greenwald, who grew up in a Conservative Jewish family. “I looked ahead and thought how much more difficult it was to find someone after 35, and decided I was going to start a very organized plan in advance.”

Attending an all-women’s college taught her she had to be proactive in meeting men.

“Instinctively, I developed a lot of these tactics in my 20s,” she said, the same tactics she details — and gives marketing terminology to — in her book.

Once Greenwald found herself happily married — to a Jewish man, she noted — she began coaching her single friends informally. Five years ago, she was advising a single 41-year-old friend who hadn’t found the right guy. Greenwald had an epiphany.

“I realized I was telling her classic business approaches to her dating life,” she said. “As we talked about improving her appearance, we were talking about packaging. As we talked about systematically calling everyone she knew to ask them if they could fix her up, we were talking about telemarketing. The whole thing took shape during my process of helping her, and I guess it really jelled at some point that this analogy in the business and dating world was so powerful.”

Hence “The Program,” which teaches women how to take business strategies and apply them to finding a mate.

Actually, there’s nothing revolutionary in Greenwald’s program. But as she said, it’s how a woman sets about to meet someone that makes the difference.

For example, many people recommend women take an adult education class. But Greenwald advises rather than take one that genuinely interests you, take one you know is bound to have men in it.

Another of her strategies is asking others to set you up with people they know. Again, many people do that. But in the step she refers to as niche marketing, Greenwald suggests taking six women out on “dates” to do so.

They shouldn’t be six close friends. They should be women chosen specifically for their wide range of friends, and it’s better if they are from differing social circles. For Jewish women, that can mean a rabbi, or someone she went to summer camp with years ago.

“This is not just a casual thing on the phone, asking your friend if she knows anyone,” said Greenwald. “You must do your homework. You must come armed with knowledge about this woman. If she’s in a book group, for example, ask her to ask her book group members if they know anyone. If her husband plays golf, ask her about his golf buddies. If she has an adult son in college, ask her to ask her son if he has any friends with divorced dads.”

Get the picture?

Being this specific may “help her trigger some resources,” rather than just asking “Do you know anyone?” said Greenwald, who further suggests sending a follow-up thank-you note, and even a gift if a friend does indeed set you up.

Greenwald is a big advocate of online dating, and she gives advice on how to go about doing it, for those singles who haven’t yet tried. This opens a whole potential pool of men, but be careful, she says. If you’re doing things right, you’re corresponding with several men at one time, always keeping several balls in the air. You will need to keep a journal to keep all of them straight.

In the short time she’s been doing this, Greenwald has lectured widely on this topic. And among Jewish groups, she frequently hears from Jewish women who have trouble meeting Jewish men.

“One of the biggest things Jewish women can do is to increase the distribution channels by which they meet Jewish men,” she said. If a woman is attending a singles group, and is using JDate, the online Jewish dating service, that’s only two things, she said.

“There are so many other ways,” she said. “You need to make sure you have a diversified portfolio.”

Greenwald believes Jewish women are probably more likely to take her suggestions, because “you need chutzpah to do this program.

“The Jewish women I’ve talked to are willing to take matters into their own hands and not wait for fate to knock on their door.”

In her book, she shares an anecdote about a Jewish woman who always wanted to marry a Jewish man. She relays it in a chapter about widening your parameters and what you think your “type” is, in order to expand your possibilities as wide as possible. The woman ended up meeting the perfect non-Jewish guy, who agreed to convert. In another case, a Jewish woman married a non-Jewish man who is willing to raise their kids Jewish.

“You have to open to other possibilities,” said Greenwald. “The woman with the Christian boyfriend was not as focused on marrying a Jewish man but was focused on raising her kids Jewish, and she found someone flexible enough to do that. That’s another configuration of how marriage can work. What you really want is happiness, and it may come in a different package than you originally thought.”

Greenwald’s advice may not sit so well with some feminists. A lot of it, in fact, could put Greenwald in the same category with the authors of “The Rules,” or the neo-Conservative commentators Ann Coulter and Danielle Crittenden. She acknowledges that the chapter on “packaging,” may be a hard pill to swallow for some women with feminist sensibilities, telling them how to redo their appearance to please a man — like growing their hair long or asking male friends for advice on clothing, not to mention that push-up bra.

She also suggests women wait to be contacted by men first online, and is in favour of allowing men to do the pursuing 95 percent of the time.

But Greenwald said she’s only telling it like it is.

“A typical response is, ‘I’m so offended, but yeah, you’re right,’ ” she said. “You have to sell what customers want to buy. I’m not the one who created the reality, I’m just dealing with it, so there’s definitely this tension.”

Men do prefer women with longer hair, Greenwald said. That’s the truth, and she didn’t create it. And a woman is more likely to catch a man’s eye if she’s wearing a flattering color and something feminine. Not a power suit.

“For some women, they are not going to change a thing, and they will still find a wonderful husband,” said Greenwald. “But this program is about increasing your odds. If doing something fairly easy like that can increase your odds, then why not do it?”

First published in J. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California.
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Copyright 2003 - San Francisco Jewish Community Publications Inc.