Some people blame ‘being picky’ for the fact they’re perpetually single. I’m not picky - I wish I could afford that privilege. I’m just a nice Jewish girl looking for a nice Jewish guy. It would be ideal were I to bump into world renowned hot Jewish funny man Jason Segel outside a bagel shop at midnight (How in the Jewish dating laws of probability is Jason Segel single btw?). We’d end up at a better bagel shop the next morning, for breakfast. Life would be made.
I have, however, accepted that I’m never going to haphazardly stumble upon my perfect single Samson in the city, ask him in our opening five-minute meet-cute if he’s Jewish, receive an affirmative response, immediately recover from that line of curveball questioning by not appearing remotely desperate, while also pocket-texting my mum ‘CAN YOU PLEASE KEEP THE KOSHER CATERER ON STAND-BY? WILL TXT DETAILS TOMO.’ Thing is. I NEED to find a Jew. Why? First, my whole life I’ve been haunted by the scene in Fiddler On The Roof when the youngest daughter gets ostracised by her father for choosing a blue-eyed non-Jewish fiancé. My mother wouldn’t murder me were I to ‘marry out’ but her heart would be so decimated by the nuclear bombdrop of a wedding planned without kosher catering that I’d probably wind up shooting myself in the face anyway. Second, I am plagued by the concept of ‘Jewish guilt’ which results from several thousand years’ worth of ancestral hardship to keep Judaic culture alive, dating all the way back to the parting of the Red Sea. Third, while there is always the option of converting a non-Jew, YOU try bringing that icebreaker up on a first date.
So as time ticks on and the best of the local, reasonably aged Jewish males have been married off, I’ve made more of a concerted effort to put myself out there. I’ve been to the singleton Friday Night buffets, the Jewish Speed-Dating evenings in ‘hip’ bars like Gilgamesh and the charity parties. Every time I walk away, still single, realising that the real charity case here is actually me. When The Internet Jewish dating game upped its ante, I was relieved that there was no longer the need to go to these thankless gatherings. Now, I could recreate that very same experience virtually, by dating other Jews online. Not Jews who happen to be on Guardian Soulmates, but on dedicated sites and apps tailored to Jews by Jews. And here are some lessons I’ve learned:
**Lesson 1: It’s just as hard online as it is ‘IRL’ Plus your family will disown you **
Looking for a Jewish partner is like flat hunting. You don’t get everything you want, the market is saturated and you have to sell yourself short (most men I date are so vertically-challenged they make all 5’2” of me feel like the Burj Khalifa - at least when you’re vetting dates at real-life events you can see exactly where they enter on the height scale from the off). Every time you go home for the High Holidays, your family ask whether you’ve found him yet. If you answer negatively they’ll say something like: ‘please God by you’, which is the worst. Instead of suggesting there are numerous environmental factors involved, ‘please God by you’ implies that your fate is in the hands of the Almighty. All anyone can do is pray for you and your impending outdated shelf life. Tell them that your efforts to improve the situation involve locating nearby Jews online and you’re met with the judgmental collective headshake that you’ve had to resort to the Internet to find a life partner - even God cannot help you now.
Lesson 2: You only get what you don’t pay for
There’s a website called JDate, and then there’s everything else. JDate -for those who are unfamiliar - is especially massive in America, Billboard-in-Times-Square level massive. I recall one Chanukah an enormous JDate poster hanging up by the equally giant NASDAQ and LG ads reminding all the festive revellers that if Zadie and Morty (here pictured, looking suspiciously like Aryan Abercrombie & Fitch models) can find happiness then what are you waiting for? Not a whole lot. The problem with JDate is that you can only get so far before you have to pay a membership fee.
Now let’s not pander to stereotypes here, but… where there’s a way around paying for a service, the JDaters will explore. Seasoned users will find out your name and then add you on Facebook immediately. Now you have loads of new Facebook friends you don’t want. Beyond this irritant, however, is that in most JDate cases it turns out you know everyone on there already. It says a lot for the supposed width of the JDate pool that when you first join, pop-up instant messages bombard every inch of your window, because of your value as new, untapped territory. Everyone wants to know why they haven’t seen you round here before. ‘Where do you come from?’ they ask. ‘Do we have mutual friends? Where did you go to school/synagogue/summer camp in 2001?’ Soon, you'll discover that your enquirer will discover they either know you, or your first cousin, or your ex, who’s already told them all about you.
Ergo, Lesson 3: You might have all of cyberspace to play with, but turns out cyberspace is a very small world too
Even if you seek out one of JDate’s competitors to help you find that mythical Jew You’ve Never Met, everyone on JMeet and JCrush and TotallyJewishDating.com and JewishMatch.com are the same people you’ve just blitzed through on JDate, with different usernames.
So it was game over, until… the so-called ‘Jewish Tinder’ - inventively called ‘JSwipe’ – arrived on the scene. Using the free, effortless JSwipe app requires a hefty pinch of salt. Instead of a burning flame passing the time on your screen as your phone searches for nearby potentials, you get a whirring Star of David. When you match with someone, of course, JSwipe wishes you the premature ‘Mazel Tov!’ too. Just in case you temporarily forgot the tragedies that led you to this app in the first place.
**Lesson 4: If you don’t already know them, there’s a reason for that… **
Recently I spent a week on J Swipe talking to a handsome Jewish children’s doctor. I couldn’t believe my luck. Refreshingly everything was easy going, none of the usual schmaltzy nonsense about how much of a Jewish princess I was, or whether my mum’s chicken soup was as good as his mum’s. Then, the day before the date…
Him: ‘Hey Eve, just wanted to message you ahead of our date tomorrow - can’t wait. In terms of what you might be expecting… I don’t know whether you picked up on this between the lines but… I’m not actually Jewish.’
Me: ‘Firstly, that’s ok. But which lines am I supposed to be reading between?’
Him: ‘Well, you don’t have to be Jewish to be on JSwipe…’
Technically, he is correct but…
Me: ‘Why would you be not Jewish and on a Jewish dating app? You can be out there. Dating EVERYONE’
Him: ‘Well, recently I found out that my great grandfather was Jewish and so I’ve wanted to learn a bit more about my family’s heritage by dating Jewish women…’
Apparently, the result of assimilation between religions has resulted in curious multi-faith offspring who would rather gain first hand explanations of their personal ancestry than, say, going to a museum, or watching Schindler’s List. I am no longer a date to this man. I am a walking, talking history book. An artefact to be studied. This somewhat weirded me out and, suffice to say, we didn’t go on a date. Modern technology has failed me. It seems that several millennia after Adam met Eve, I’m still very much in the market for a real-life Jewish matchmaker. Any takers?
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Follow Eve on Twitter @Eve_Barlow
Picture: Ada Hamza
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.