Judging from the noise level in the room on Sunday, singles over 60 have a lot to say. The trouble is on weekends, at least there aren’t many places where they can get together and talk. B’nai Brunchies was created to fill that need.
In July ‘005, after losing his wife of 50 years, Fair Lawn resident Fred Levine realized that he really didn’t know many people. He placed an ad in the local community paper looking for other Jewish singles over 60 who might be in the same position and want to get together.
"I received a lot of calls," he said. "There were a lot of people who were lonely and depressed and just wanted other people to talk to."
With the help of Fair Lawn residents Hannah Frisch and Gladys Flax, Levine created B’nai Brunchies, a Sunday morning gathering that takes place at the Fair Lawn Jewish Center. The first meeting was held in December ‘005.
"At first we met every week," said Flax, who added that the group now has 100 members and draws between 40 and 60 participants to every meeting. "Then we started meeting every other week."
Sunday’s meeting featured a psychic. (See page 3.) The next meeting will include a speaker on insurance and estate planning.
Members the great majority of whom are women don’t pay dues. Instead, they buy raffle tickets at each meeting to defray the costs of the food and entertainment. While most members hail from Fair Lawn, Sunday’s meeting, with some 50 people in attendance, drew individuals from Passaic, Paramus, Fort Lee, Wayne, Pompton Lakes, Clifton, and Ridgewood.
Levine said attendees are asked to bring cans of food to each meeting, which he later brings either to the Paterson Salvation Army or the Fair Lawn Food Bank.
Once a week, about 15 members get together to go to a restaurant. In addition, the group recently sponsored trips to Atlantic City and Mohegan Sun.
"Fred tries to get people involved in going out as a group," said Frisch. "Meetings are only one part of this effort." She added that the group has enabled her to "make nice new friends who I wouldn’t have met otherwise."
Frisch explained that people come to B’nai Brunchies to meet new people. In the case of Rachel, who previously owned a small business in Paterson, it also provided an opportunity to get reacquainted with an old friend. "I met someone here I knew from years ago," she said. But given the high woman-to-man ratio, said Frisch, "Women who are looking for men take one look and turn around."
Group members seem to believe that B’nai Brunchies is unique. "This group is unique because there is a group," said one member, "a Sunday getaway."
"I don’t know of one synagogue group for singles over 60 in Bergen County, and most of us can’t go to New York," ventured a woman from Paramus, adding that while there are "lots of things for us during the week, we need things to do on weekends."
"We don’t want our families to feel they have to entertain us every weekend," said another guest.
"Synagogues don’t give singles over 60 a chance to get together," one participant told The Jewish Standard. "Why not reach out to them? It doesn’t cost a lot of money. Synagogues spend a lot of money on other things."
And, said a member from Wayne, "The people are congenial and warm to each other, and Fred is a patient and wonderful man."