Karen Foster-Shenman and Joel Shenman have just celebrated their first New Year’s Day as husband and wife, and they are eager to inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
They met last February on JDate, the Internet site usually thought of as a way for young Jews to meet. These two are grandparents, seasoned by previous marriages and tough years alone, but they say it worked just as well for them. They got married at the end of October, at the Manor in West Orange, underscoring their happiness — they said — with all the fanfare of a traditional celebration.
Karen used to live in Springfield, but when they met, she was living in Las Vegas, where she was founder and president of Las Vegas Now Magazine and a radio and TV personality. She was widowed at a young age, when her children were small. She remarried and, she said, stayed too long in an unhappy relationship before getting divorced.
Joel, a PGA Golf Professional, former PGA Tour player and formerly the PGA Golf Professional at Cedar Hill Country Club in Livingston, is the founder and president of JES Promotions, a marketing firm. He was living in Far Hills and went through a struggle similar to Karen’s, he said, trying for years to make his marriage work before finally getting divorced.
Karen had been on JDate two weeks and had spoken to and met a couple of men when she saw Joel’s ad. He had been on for several months and had dated a few women. In fact, 20-25 percent of JDate users are 50-plus years of age, according to FindTheBest.com.
In e-mailed answers to questions from NJ Jewish News, the newlyweds wrote that both mentioned in their profiles “that family values are very important to us and that we are both looking for our soul mate and a loving marriage.”
Karen answered Joel’s ad. “I told him that I grew up in the Weequahic section of Newark. I mentioned that we had a lot in common, especially since we are both in the advertising/marketing/promotional businesses.” She told him she was coming to New Jersey for Passover to be with her family and asked if he would like to meet her then.
Joel e-mailed her back the next day and said he wanted to speak to her. He offered his number, so she could make the choice. Karen called that evening. They wrote, “And the rest is history!”
Karen said after first speaking with Joel on Feb. 7, 2010, she immediately appreciated his “soft but strong voice. I found him extremely knowledgeable and talented, with a subtle sense of humor. I soon realized that he is a true Renaissance man!”
“Karen has a way of expressing herself that is heartfelt, warm, and articulate,” said Joel. “What she has accomplished — from where she was to where she is now — is amazing.”
They spoke every day, often many times a day, for six weeks, and then met at Newark Airport on March 26.
“Joel picked me up at the airport with 2 dozen roses and a camera!” wrote Karen. The couple had dinner at a local restaurant and spent Passover with her daughter and son and extended family members.
The two continued to spend time together, including at the Jersey shore and in Las Vegas, and Joel proposed in July. They now travel back and forth between their homes in Las Vegas and Far Hills. Both are motivational speakers and plan to write a book about “finding a soulmate more than 2,500 miles away, against all odds.”
“I recommend this way to meet to everyone at any age,” wrote Karen. The rabbi who officiated at their wedding, she said, “told us that he is marrying more and more couples of all ages who met on JDate.”
“I believe that individuals should not give up on anything they want to accomplish,” added Joel. “JDate is an excellent way to meet Jewish singles of any age. Karen and I are proud to say that it worked for us!”