You say “potato,” I say “patattah” – unlike Frank Sinatra, for many Jewish singles across the world, they say “let’s call the whole thing on!”
Minority faiths were always the trailblazers in online dating. This is because they enabled and continue to provide a much larger pool of potential soul mates – drawing in minority populations from around the corner and across the world.
One such service, JWed.com (formerly Frumster.com) has always seen a significant number of marriages between American singles and singles from abroad.
Over the last few years there has been a noted increase in European single Jews specifically looking for a soul-mate who not only shares life-goals and spiritual – but even more importantly for many today – also provides a ticket to a new life – one less characterized by anti-Semitism.
For many it has not been surprising that the latest war of Israeli defense from Gaza has led to an uptick in public anti-Semitism in Europe. The fact is that anti-Semitic attitudes are far more prevalent in Europe than European governments admit.
Having lived in South Africa, England, the U.S. and Israel, it is interesting how most Americans who lead very public and thriving Jewish lives – do not appreciate how fortunate they are.
One of the many differences in American Jewish life to that Europe is the degree of Jewish communal action and engagement in broader political society. Whereas in Europe, Jewish political engagement can be characterized as meek at best, in the U.S., the community and organizational response to matters that affect Jews are loud, unambiguous and influential.
Does anti-Semitism exist in US? Yes, but very minimal. Compare a recent May 2014 ADL survey which found anti-Semitism at its lowest level in years at just 9% as compared to the 24% percent in Europe and rising. Europe’s anti-Semitism problem may be more open and obvious when Middle Easter violence in the news, then, but it’s not simply a reaction to whatever’s going on in Israel. Rather, it’s always just below the surface, threatening to bubble over.
As we are a people characterized as “wandering Jews” it should therefore not come as a complete surprise that to single Jews living in countries where their Judaism is important and where anti-Semitism is rife – that such singles are even more receptive to wondering even further afar!
Take Shani from Paris. She conveys that “Until a few years ago, I always thought I would just marry a Frenchman, settle down and live my life here. Now I am actively looking to meet an American or someone from Israel because I no longer believe that this is where I can either lead a thriving life for myself or G-d willing, my children.”
But are there not vast differences in cultural and otherwise that make such cross-continental marriages romantic in theory, but problematic in practice?
Dov from New York has dated a number of Jewish girls from overseas and flown to Europe numerous time – something he in part ascribes to the fact that his mother is European. That said, he says that “while there are many Jewish singles right here in my neighborhood, I am in many ways attracted to someone from overseas – who I find more cultured and refreshing!”
Judith and Hilton who recently met on JWed.com proved that no continent is too far, no situation is too difficult and that “Hashem will find His way!”
As a Baalei Teshuva from Berlin, Germany, Judith found her pool of potential soul mates very small and joined JWed. After noticing that Hilton had looked at her profile she initiated communication with him – a single living in Cape Town.
As Judith conveys “Shorty thereafter Hilton flew to Berlin and we enjoyed 10 fantastic days together!” Yes she says they were both worried about their vast cultural and background differences, and realized that a long term long distance relationship would probably not work – but “with lots of love and patience we fought our way through!”
Judith flew down to Cape Town and on the last day with 4 hours before her departure flight back to Germany – Hilton proposed! “I immediately accepted, and flew back with one eye laughing and jumping for joy and one eye crying as we couldn’t even celebrate that special moment together! “
The approach of frum singles to dating is vastly impacted by many of the underlying challenges in our community – not least minimal venues of social interaction and irrational lists of dating criteria.
But so too, world political events and growing anti-Semitism are so too proving to dramatically impact dating habits – not least for thousands of European Jews.