SINGLES SUPPLEMENT: Airport meeting, friendship in the skies lead to marriage

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Standing in the back of the plane, she began talking to Mitch. "We spent the entire trip over to Israel talking. By the time we got to Israel, we knew each other pretty well," she said.

Unfortunately, they wound up on separate tour buses. Lisa, now 36, was a year older than Mitch, and the two groups were divided by age. Nonetheless, she said, "We did everything together — me and Mitch and his brother. We never got rid of my brother-in-law."

Lisa and Mitch were married Jan. 21 and they just bought a house in Cranbury, N.J.

"That was it," she said. "We never were apart from the day we left for Israel."

Geoffrey Weill, director of AJCongress' international travel program said at least 20 such matches have taken place as a results of the singles tours, which began in 1977. "And about 15 years later, we hope they'll come back to take a bar-bat mitzvah tour."

On a 1992 singles tour, Steve Kaplan, an accountant from Great Neck, N.Y., and Fern Bennett, a marketing executive with Brooks Brothers in New York City, met in Jerusalem.

They were married in October.

"We're very proud of our record as matchmakers," said Weill. But what makes the marriage of Bennett and Kaplan "especially exciting is that Fern Bennett's sister, Barbara, also met her husband, Howard Chumsky, on the identical AJCongress Israel singles tour back in 1989."

Underscoring its role as matchmaker, the AJCongress international travel program has come up with a special wedding gift for couples who meet on its singles tours — a gift certificate providing a 50 percent discount on its Israel for Families bar or bat mitzvah tours for the couple and their first child. "We think this is a very appropriate way to say `Mazel tov,'" Weill said.

In addition to its Israel Adventure tours, AJCongress is offering the following singles-only tours this year:

Moroccan Discovery: August 12-22 (under 40), Dec. 23-Jan. 2 (29-49).

Catalonia and Provence (France and Spain): July 16-30 (29-49).

Grand Tour of Spain: July 16-30 (29-49).

Eastern Europe Discovery (Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Hungary): July 17-Aug. 3 (19-49).

The Wonders of Turkey: July 23-Aug. 6 (over 39).

Safari in Kenya: Aug. 1-13 (29-49).

Italy and Riviera Journey: Aug. 13-27 (over 39).

Grand European Odyssey (cruise tour to England, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy): Aug. 31-September (over 50).

Costa Rica Adventure: Dec. 25-Jan. 1 (under 45).

For a catalog and information, call (800) 221-4694.