Jews Turning to Online Matchmakers

Jennifer Packer
The Dallas Morning News

In the short time that the Internet has become a fixture in many offices and homes, several dozen dating sites that cater to Jews have emerged worldwide. And their popularity grows each day, say those who run them. "It's really a revolution in the Jewish dating scene," says Devora Alouf, a New York-based matchmaker who took her business online in 1994.

Services such as hers - Jewish Quality Singles - are erasing the geographic boundaries that once isolated Jews, she says. Those who date online, particularly women, are often willing to move far from home - even to other countries - for the right person. "Most Jews are on the Internet," says Mrs. Alouf. "They are very goal-oriented, and they know what they want." That was the case for Ms. Mazer of Dallas, an English-as-a-second-language teacher who now lives in an apartment a few blocks from Mr. Rosensweig. Though they're not yet engaged, Ms. Mazer said, neither has any doubt about their future together.

Robert Moore, a 40-year-old computer database developer in Arlington, Va., knew what he wanted, but he knew the odds were against him before joining Yenta, the 5,000-member Jewish division of Bedford, Texas-based Jews make up roughly 2 percent of the U.S. population and two-tenths of a percent worldwide. "It's like shooting fish in a barrel," Mr. Moore says of finding Jewish dates. "What I like is that I can go onto Yenta and I know I'm not going to have to ask someone, "So, are you Jewish?" which is such an obnoxious part of regular life." Online dating may be a new avenue for Jews to meet a kosher counterpart, but it has yet to take the place of in-person introductions, says Shelly Novick, singles and adult program director for the Dallas Jewish Community Center. At least 400 such people are exected to be in Dallas this weekend for the center's fifth annual national Jewish singles convention which runs through Monday. She said the people she knows who try online dating typically do so if they haven't been successful with Profiles, the Jewish Community Center's bricks-and-mortar dating service. "If they can get past any kind of stigma… then their next step is the Internet," says Ms. Novick. "It's a numbers game. The more people you meet, the more likely you are to meet the right one." Most of those who run online Jewish dating sites say the vast majority of members are educated, successful men in their late 30s and women in the early- to mid-30s who don't have time to meet romantic prospects through conventional means. Others, Ms. Novick says, are unnerved by traditional singles events or feel as though they've exhausted the Jewish prospects in their immediate communities.

The answers are usually accessible to fellow members and visitors alike, but only members have access to e-mail addresses. Most sites also allow members to post photos but give the option of hiding them from nonmembers. The cost of joining - usually the key to being able to contact others - ranges from free to $150 for three months.

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