Defying the odds, a Jewish Bulletin copy editor who is over 50 has married a man whom she met through a Bulletin personals ad — without lying about her age.
Janet Silver Ghent, 57, a Bulletin employee since 1993, married Allen Fane Podell, 62, on Sunday, Feb. 13 at Temple Israel in Alameda. It is the first Jewish marriage for both.
“I only wish they could have met through the Jewish Community Online,” Marc Klein, the Bulletin’s editor and publisher and a co-founder of JCOL, said shortly after the couple met in early 1999.
“Did I say that?” Klein said recently. “They met through the Jewish Bulletin and that’s a good thing.”
Actually, Podell, a longtime electrical engineer who lives in Palo Alto, admits that he not only doesn’t subscribe to the Bulletin, but had been uninvolved with the Jewish community before meeting Ghent.
Moreover, he hadn’t dated a Jewish woman since the early ’60s, when he served with the Peace Corps in Tanzania and spent time with a nurse — “if you can call that dating.”
He actually saw Ghent’s ad while taking in the mail for his tenant, Pete Gordon, who rents the cottage behind Podell’s home.
“Oh geez, why not?” Podell said to himself, after reading Ghent’s Such-a-Match ad in January 1999. “At least she’ll have a sense of humor. That she can cook is only alleged.”
Her ad said:
CUTE WRITER SEEKS leading man for long-playing drama. Improvise, create sparkling dialogue, passionate interludes. Musical ability a plus but no scene-throwers. I’m cute, slim, petite, 5’1″, stylish, extroverted, introspective, intellectual and occasionally outrageous. Great cook, cuddler, love outdoors, opera, travel. You’re 49-60, active, healthy, ready for comeback after long-term marriage. Willing to share marquee with woman your age, who looks 10-15 years younger. N/s, n/drugs.
He decided to respond to the ad online:
“I love to sing duets, hike and bike, hug and talk, travel and explore. I’m a healthy, energetic 5’9” professional educator (I design and teach Continuing Ed. courses for EE’s) who travels often, has green eyes, slim athletic build, and salt and pepper hair. I subscribe to Theatreworks, West Bay Opera, and S.F. MOMA. I love to bike, but I’m not a fanatic. I play softball every Sunday with my brother and friends.
“I sing bass in a chorus on Tuesdays and my grandson and I play together every Thursday from 5 until 9. I like to eat, and often cook my own meals. I’ve been divorced 5 years, after a 25-year marriage. My life is full, but I miss having a spirited special someone in my life, and would gladly make room. Call Allen or use their e-mail service, tho I hate to type.”
She called him. They exchanged more e-mails, as well as JPEG photos, and agreed to meet the following Saturday morning — Jan. 30, 1999 — in the Lego department of FAO Schwarz in San Francisco. She sent him a picture of herself alone and another one with her then-newborn grandchild, Lindsay. He sent her two e-mail photos that she wasn’t able to download, including one of him in a cow costume. Then he sent her a cartoon about two people on a blind date who had sent one another old photos and waited at a restaurant, wondering why the other hadn’t shown up.
She followed with a note that he might want to see a more recent picture of her. She attached a photo of Golda Meir.
When they met at FAO Schwarz, by the “Big” piano in front of the Legos, he rode up the escalator grinning at her and holding up the photo of the late Israeli prime minister. After playing a duet of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” on the “Big” piano, they walked up Grant Avenue. Over tea in a Chinatown bakery, he looked at her, saying, “You are cute! But Alameda?”
Two weeks later, he e-mailed saying that he wanted to join her that night at Shabbat services, something he hadn’t done in years, proving the adage that the way to a woman’s heart is through her temple.
A month later, they were singing spoofs together at Temple Israel’s 75th anniversary gala.
“The two of them are like teenagers,” marveled the synagogue’s rabbi, Allen Bennett.
Soon after, Podell was rewiring her kitchen and repairing her garage door. Ghent began helping him toss out mounds of old papers and magazines.
Several months later, he was protecting her from Roosevelt elk during a camping trip and chasing after a thief to recover her purse on a sojourn to Barcelona.
Describing the match, Ghent’s mother used the Yiddish word for “meant to be.”
“It was beshert,” she said.
“Tiffany Lipschitz” is the “altar” ego of Bulletin copy editor Janet Silver Ghent. A version of this article was distributed at her wedding.