Best Practices for Inclusion of Singles in Our Communities

  1. Never ask someone who is single why he or she is single.
  2. People who are single want to have conversations about a variety of topics beyond dating or singlehood.
  3. Do not assume that all singles want to be set up. Ask people who are single if they would like to be set up. If they respond affirmatively, ask them what they are looking for in a partner.
  4. Membership dues or the cost for attending programming for a single person should not be more than half of a couple’s cost. Higher costs would constitute a singles tax.
  5. Include unmarried constituents on committees and boards to ensure that diverse needs are being met.
  6. Singles should pay membership dues to institutions they participate in. Singles should be proactive in their involvement in the community by joining committees, attending communal events, and participating in Jewish communal life.
  7. Be thoughtful in your choice of language. If targeting a specific audience, market to the community at large, even if adults only, children only, or intergenerational groups are the intended participants. (Aunt Susie, for example, may know that her niece would love to join this activity.)
  8. Events targeting singles shouldn’t be earmarked solely for people who are not married. Instead, open up some programs for adults only, regardless of marital or dating status.
  9. Singles should be active in planning events for the community. Everyone’s voice matters, so let’s hear them. Encourage friends to participate in community events and programs to ensure a representation from the singles community. Thus, program planners will know to be inclusive of this demographic group in future planning initiatives.
  10. At weddings, dinners, and other functions, adults should be seated with adults, no matter what their marital status is.
  11. People who regularly host for Shabbat and holiday meals should extend invitations to singles. Hosts should make an honest effort to do so in advance and make their guests feel truly welcome. Be cognizant in Shabbat table conversations that talk is not primarily directed toward the experiences of those who are married. (e.g., how they met, weddings, strollers, diapers, and the like).
  12. Singles should invite all community members—single, married, married with children, empty nesters—for Shabbat meals to be inclusive of the broader community. Guests should warmly accept invitations from hosting community members no matter their marital or family status.
  13.  If housing someone who is single for Shabbat, provide the person with the same accommodations that you would for a married guest.
  14. All these best practices apply to all single members of the community, no matter their age or marital status.

Sharon Weiss-Greenberg is the Director of Donor Relations, RAISE Advisors and is also the Director of Development and Communications at ELI Talks. For four years she served as the Executive Director  of JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance). She was recently named by the Jewish Forward as a “Forward 50” Jew of Influence and by the Jewish Week as a person to watch as a “36 Under 36” honoree. Sharon was the Rosh Moshava (Head of Camp) at Camp Stone and served as the first Orthodox woman chaplain at Harvard University. Sharon has a doctorate in education and Jewish studies from New York University. She is an alumna of the Wexner Fellow/Davidson Scholarship graduate program and has studied Talmud at The Drisha Institute for Jewish Education.

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