In the age of JDate and OKCupid, it’s not uncommon to hear “we met online” when asking a couple the story of their first meeting.
However, before the Internet became a matchmaking service, Jewish locals could look to the Washington Jewish Week in hopes of finding a significant other.
For decades, the WJW printed personal ads submitted by readers, until the early 2000s, when online dating became popular. Before their demise, these personal ads brought Jewish singles together, with some matches finding themselves under a chuppah.
In 1987, Michael Kravitz was looking for someone to share his sense of humor and love of movies and art. To search for this special someone, Kravitz placed an ad in the WJW.
“The ad was a variation on a popular movie at the time called Hannah and Her Sisters,” he said. “Part of the ad ended up being, ‘Ask yourself, Woody (as in Woody Allen, the movie’s director) like to meet me? If your answer is ‘Woody ever …’”
At that time, the now-Mrs. Kravitz had just been divorced and moved to Silver Spring from Oklahoma. At the suggestion of a friend, she looked to the WJW personal ads.
In response to Michael Kravitz’s ad, she sent him a copy of the poem “Somewhere I Have Never Traveled,” which was read in the movie. Recognizing the connection, he said he had to meet her.
Both music lovers, they attended a Judy Collins concert at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, sharing a blanket on the lawn. After a little more than a year of dating, on Dec. 19, 1988 they were married. Cheryl and Michael Kravitz renewed their vows at a ceremony last June.
During the past 27 years, the Kravitzes adopted their daughter, Rachel, in 1993; Cheryl Kravitz’s daughter from her previous marriage was married and had children.
“We’re doing the same things now that we did 26 years ago,” Cheryl Kravitz said. “We go to the theater, and we go to concerts, and we do a lot of traveling. It’s the life that I really dreamed about all those years ago.”
Despite meeting through printed personal ads, the Kravitzes said if they were in the same position today they probably wouldn’t turn to online dating, citing “horror stories” they’ve heard from other people’s experiences.
“The 1980s were a very different time,” Michael Kravitz said. “I was looking for somebody who I could settle down with and make a life with, and I wasn’t meeting anybody in other places. I decided to give it a try, I might just meet someone I’m not seeing another way, and that’s exactly what happened.”
When the now-Mrs. Appleton spent $18 in May 1984 to place a personal ad in the WJW she wrote that she was looking for a “witty, charismatic, sensitive [and] optimistic” man who was “seeking to share an exciting life.”
“I had been in between relationships and going on a lot of blind dates,” Lorrie Appleton said. “A friend of mine had seen the Jewish Week ads and thought it would be worth a shot.”
She received 35 responses, one of which came from Mark Appleton, who said she sounded like the perfect girl. He responded to her ad, writing that though “[he’s] not perfect, [he’s] never boring.”
The two made plans to have lunch at the Bombay Bicycle Club in Alexandria. The discovered they had a lot in common.
“During the lunch we found ourselves talking a lot and saying, ‘Me too,’” Lorrie Appleton said.
Her lunch companion said after lunch he called his mother and told her he thought he had found the right person.
“It just felt right,” he said. “It felt like a glove that fit the right way.”
The couple married June 30, 1985, and they later had two children.
Lorrie Appleton said that over the past 30 years their humor and commitment to each other have kept them together. She now jokes that the personal ad was the best $18 she’s ever spent.
“If I had a do over again, I would have done the same thing,” she said.
When Karen and Leonard Raucher met November of 1987, he was not originally enthused by the idea of meeting women through a personal ad. But while he was away at medical school, his father submitted a personal ad to the WJW in hopes that his son would find a nice Jewish girl to date.
When the grandmother of the woman who became Mrs. Raucher saw the ad, which described a “physician-to-be” who liked “classic rock, fine wine and travel,” she encouraged her granddaughter to reach out to him.
Nonplussed to have been advertised in the paper without his consent, Leonard Raucher decided to give Karen Raucher a call. For their first date, the couple dined at Frisby’s in Rockville and saw the 1987 Barbra Streisand film Nuts.
“We went out and we were really able to talk,” Karen Raucher said. “It was a really nice date.”
They were married on Jan. 7, 1989, and they raised three boys.. To celebrate their wedding anniversary each year, Leonard Raucher brings his wife a rose for every year of their marriage.
“You always have somebody with you,” she said of her marriage. “A companion.”