A match made by the Jewish Chronicle

By Robyn Rosen, August 26, 2010
Social and personal: Michael Israel and Clarissa De Santis will marry after she has converted to Judaism

Social and personal: Michael Israel and Clarissa De Santis will marry after she has converted to Judaism

A London synagogue officer has found true love with an Italian nanny, thanks to the JC.

Michael Israel - senior warden at West London Synagogue and brand manager of Carmel and Palwin wine - met Clarissa De Santis at a Highgate newsagent in February. Miss De Santis, a 37-year-old from the small village of San Severino Marche, was there with her two young charges on an errand to top up a mobile phone for a friend.

"I saw this woman who had an Italian accent and was clearly not Jewish pick up a Jewish Chronicle from the shelf," Mr Israel recalled. "I asked her why a nice Catholic girl would be interested in the newspaper."

She was impressed that Mr Israel "helped me to top up the phone, which in this city is unusual. He was very kind to me and to the children".

They exchanged phone numbers, and having not heard from Mr Israel in a week, she decided to take the plunge and ring him.

"We went on our first date the next week and he finally took me to his synagogue three weeks later. I think he wanted to wait until he was sure. I have gone every week since."

Mr Israel proposed after returning from a month-long trip to Israel in June and Miss De Santis will begin her conversion through the Reform movement next month. They plan to marry next year once her conversion is complete.

"I've always been interested in Judaism," Miss De Santis added. "I read Anne Frank's Diary when I was 13 and from then on, I was fascinated. I read more and more.

"There were no Jews where I lived and I never met one until I came to London. I stayed with an Orthodox family for a few weeks and they were really nice. It was quite emotional to see all the things I'd read about. I buy the Jewish Chronicle every week because I like reading about Judaism and Israel."

The community had been welcoming "and I'm really looking forward to converting. I consider myself Jewish now and want to raise my children as Jewish".

Last updated: 12:55pm, August 26 2010