Jewish Bulletin personal ad pays off in matrimony

Jody London of Oakland sometimes tells her daughters that she kissed a lot of frogs. “They don’t know exactly what it means yet,” London said, “ but I tell them it’s all in the timing.”

The timing was perfect 14 years ago, when London met her prince, Mike Aronson, through a personal ad in the Jewish Bulletin (which is what j. used to be called).

Jody London and Mike Aronson in 1997

“When we met in the fall of 1995,” Aronson recalled. “We both had dated Jewish people and non-Jewish people, and we both had decided finding a Jewish partner would be better. We really hit it off on our first date, and we both were happy about that.”

London, 31 at that time, placed the ad that caught Aronson’s eye, and it was not her first.

“Ads were a way to spark up your social life,” London said. “Also the ads served as a social network, a way to define and create community.”

More than 50 men called the voice mailbox set up for London in conjunction with her ad (which she filled out at a singles event sponsored by the Jewish Bulletin, in part to get a discounted admission). One of the voices belonged to Aronson — and she really liked the sound of it.

Aronson, 35 at that time, had just started perusing the singles ads.

Mike Aronson, Jody London and daughters, Bebe and Sonia

“Jody’s ad was witty, so I called and left a message,” he said. “I wasn’t home when she called back, and when I realized that she heard the silly message on my answering machine, I was mortified.”

London, now 47, is an energy consultant who was elected in 2008 to a four-year term on the Oakland Board of Education; she now is serving as that body’s vice president. Aronson, 51, is a civil engineer at Dowling Associates, a transportation planning firm. They live in the Rockridge section of Oakland with their daughters, Sonia, 12, and Bebe, 10.

Members of Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland, Aronson plays bass in the congregation’s Rock ’n’ Roll Shabbat Band (his mother, Roz Aronson, often sits in on keyboards) and London heads up Beth Abraham’s Tu B’Shevat effort to restore wetlands in conjunction with Save the Bay.

So, what was that silly message on Aronson’s answering machine back in 1995? A Boston Red Sox fan (then and now), his recording was this: “Tim Wakefield for president hotline.”

Though London had never heard of Tim Wakefield — a knuckleball pitcher now in his 17th season with the Red Sox — she left a message anyway. When Aronson returned her call, they talked easily, and continued talking for almost an hour. They made a date to meet the next day for tapas in San Francisco’s Mission District, where London lived.

“Still, I didn’t really expect anything to come of it,” she said.

But that was before a mariachi band at the restaurant serenaded the couple. And before Aronson told London about his plans for a two-week cross-country trip that would include Graceland, a place she had always wanted to go. And before Aronson walked London home before to heading home.

“I told him it was great meeting him, and I gave him my business card,” London said. “How geeky was that?”

Soon afterward, London confessed to her co-workers that she was hoping to hear from a guy she had met through a personal ad. They freaked out, and chided her for taking such a risk. London tried to calm her friends’ fears and Aronson did call again — and London went on the road trip with him the following spring.

Then, on June 21, 1996, Aronson proposed to London on the swings at South Park in San Francisco, where they had spent one of their first dates. They were married Jan. 25, 1997, at the Berkeley City Club.

Years later, the two recorded their love story for StoryCorps when the national program set up shop at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews, and all the stories are preserved at the Library of Congress.

The couple’s story, including a song Aronson wrote for London based on her personal ad, was broadcast locally in June 2009 on local radio station KALW. London and Aronson are unsure whether anyone they know ever heard the broadcast.

Not that it matters — because London and Aronson got the timing right.

Mike and Jody’s StoryCorps piece (recorded at the Contemporary Jewish Museum) was featured on KALW radio’s “Crosscurrents.” To listen, visit

Patricia Corrigan

Patricia Corrigan is a longtime newspaper reporter, book author and freelance writer based in San Francisco.