Finding your soul mate in the age of technology
- By Jillian Jorgensen
The Jewish Voice, August 2006
Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match"—the tune sung by Jewish singles searching for their soul mates has not changed, but the technology of matchmaking has. Almost a century after Yente found matches for young Jewish brides-to-be in Broadway’s “The Fiddler on the Roof,” there are now new ways to find the perfect match: Jewish dating websites.
Jewish dating websites are a happy alternative for computer-savvy young people who are tired of old-fashioned singles nights or awkward blind dates set up by overeager family members. There is a Jewish dating website for virtually every Jewish single: those looking for casual dating, those seeking serious commitment and those looking to stay within their own sect of Judaism or heritage.
The most well-known online Jewish dating service, JDate.com, established in 1997, boasts more than 600,000 members worldwide. The website has become part of popular culture after being referenced in the hit Off-Broadway musical “Jewtopia.” JDate.com caters to Jewish singles of all sects looking for any kind of relationship, ranging from casual flirtations to marriage.
JDate.com users, or JDaters, set up online profiles that can include pictures, information about the JDater's lifestyle and the ideal characteristics a JDater would like in a potential mate. JDaters then browse the profiles of other JDate.com users in the hopes of finding their perfect match. The site works like many other dating websites that are not religion specific, but strives to connect Jewish singles and enable easier dating within the Jewish community.
Jewish singles who only want to date within their own Jewish background can join websites such as Sephardiclink.com, which is designed to connect strictly Sephardic singles. Users fill out profiles much like the ones used on JDate.com and other websites, but they cannot view the profiles of other members. Instead, Sephardiclink.com provides each dater with an “agent” who browses the profiles of other members and searches for a compatible match for his or her client.
The agent system is designed to protect the privacy of Sephardiclink.com members by blocking their profiles and personal information from the public. Since privacy is a major concern for many singles wary of internet dating, sites with security measures like Sephardiclink.com address the problem of privacy protection while still providing dating connections to their clients.
To assure all users that every member of Sephardiclink.com is indeed Jewish, user profiles at Sephardiclink.com must include rabbinical references. Agents verify all religious information with the listed Rabbi so that all Sephardiclink.com users can be sure that they are being matched with other Jewish singles. This solves a problem that can occasionally arise with services like JDate.com, which does not verify the provided religious information and does not have a system that guarantees all members meet the same religious standards. Additionally, on its website Sephardic link.com lists endorsements from Rabbi Eli J. Mansour of the Ahi Ezer Torah Center on East 7th Street and Rabbi Raymond Harari of Kol Israel Congregation on Bedford Avenue, as well as various others.
For singles who are not interested in casual dating, there are some websites designed to match Jewish singles with husbands or wives. The Jewish dating website Frumster.com promises “Jewish dating for marriage.” According to the website, 618 members have found a “soul mate” through the Frumster.com dating network. Unlike JDate.com, Frumster.com profiles are all screened with religious principles in mind. According to the website, “[all] profiles, photographs, and communications are sensitively screened by an orthodox management team according to traditional Torah standards.” Frumster.com members can be sure that every profile they browse on the website belongs to a practicing Jew interested not in casual dating but marriage with another practicing Jew, a guarantee not offered by most other dating services.
Finding Jewish matches online is a new solution to the age-old problem of meeting someone with similar religious and cultural backgrounds and/or heritage. Jewish singles can now skip over the most awkward and uncomfortable stages of getting to know a single acquaintance or stranger and can find someone with common interests, ideals or goals with a few keystrokes and the click of a mouse.
No longer must singles rely on a small network of personal and family friends to play matchmaker in their lives: online Jewish dating services broaden the horizon for singles, allowing them to meet people they otherwise never would have known.
While the bar scene, the singles night, the blind date and other dating methods of the past languish behind, internet dating services seek to move forward and, as the management of Sephardiclink.com declares on their website, strive “to bring the world of dating into the future."