Middle-aged and older
singles' needs are
different from those of
Local News Editor
ingles over the age of 50
find they have a difficult
time meeting each other
because the options open
to younger singles —
bars, parties, singles weekends and
groups — are not their style, or in the
case of groups, few and far between.
But that scene is changing,
thanks to some outspoken "mature,"
singles and Temple Israel. For now,
there is a new group where Jewish
singles past the age of 50 can find fun,
friendship and companionship.
The Singles Extension Group,
sponsored by Temple Israel, has about
179 paid members to date, with about
350 on the mailing list. Begun last
August, the group, mainly socially-
oriented, has had a "Night in Italy"
with dancing, entertainment and an
Italian buffet, and a summer picnic in
a member's home. On Feb. 21, the
group will have its third social, a
"Think Spring" dinner-dance, at
which mature singles will have the
opportunity to relax and socialize with
their peers in a dignified atmosphere.
Oddly enough, this group that
holds its functions at and gets support
from Temple Israel, was founded by
someone who was not a temple
member. Vera Rollin, a widow and an
acquaintance of Temple Israel's Rabbi
G M. Robert Syme, attended a singles
Oneg Shabbat at the temple, only to
find that she was one of three persons
over 50 in attendance. She wanted to
leave, but stayed to get more informa-
tion about the group. It was then that
she got the inspiration for starting a
similar group for mature singles.
"I was very impressed with that
group and the things they had
planned," she said. "It occurred to me
that there was a tremendous need for
this — for an over 50 group."
She approached Rabbi Syme who
advised her to put her suggestion in a
letter. The rabbi turned the letter over
to the Caring Community committee,
a body created by the temple to assist
members of the congregation with a
variety of needs. The Caring Commu-
nity has arranged busing for senior
citizens, has begun a bereavement
support group and the Singles Connec-
tion, a singles group for persons age
30-50. The committee reviewed Mrs.
Rollin's ideas and gave her the go-
ahead, offering the temple gratis as a
According to Mrs. Rollin, she
started the group singlehandedly. "I
was an individual fighting for a
She enlisted the aid of temple
member Harry Kifferstein Who joined
her in gathering names for member-
ship. The two went to local country
clubs and the Jewish Community Cen-
ter to try and find adults interested in
creating a group. The two arranged an
Oneg Shabbat at which 42 persons
attended, 16 of whom signed up to be
on the singles committee.
Vera Rollin helped get the group started.
At the Oneg, the temple's cantor,
Harold Orbach, pledged his support.
"We then felt we had the backing of the
temple," Mrs. Rollin said. "It was a
very exciting venture and adventure.
I'm delighted with its success."
Today, the group has a board com-
prised of Mel Hirsch as the new
president; Sylvia Winton and Rosetta
Whitefield as vice presidents; Edith
Ellis, secretary; and Richard
Goldsmith, treasurer. Former
president Fern Kumove had to leave
her post. At one of the group's parties
three months ago she met Michael
Wallach whom she has since married.
The average age of the Singles Ex-
tension Group ("If the 30-50 group was
`connected' then we would be 'ex-
tended,' " Rollin said) is 60. Members
come from all over the metropolitan
area: Detroit, Huntington Woods, Yp-
silanti, Troy, Ann Arbor, Oak Park,
Southfield, West Bloomfield, Royal
Oak and Berkley. For many of the
members, a group like this is long
Sylvia Winton, a widow and a
former school teacher, said there is a
dearth of activities for persons in her
age group. "We're kind of a neglected
group. There have been very few