This Christmas eve, most revellers will be hanging stockings and leaving mince pies in anticipation of a home invasion. However, if you are young, single and Jewish, you will most likely be participating in a newer tradition. Every Christmas Eve for the last 30 years, young, unattached Jewish people have been gathering in premiere nightclubs to consume copious amounts of alcohol, dance to excessively loud club bangers, flirt, hook up and maybe even meet their future spouse. The event is an integral part of modern Jewish consciousness. Every Christmas, it inspires thousands of young Jewish singles to dress up and go out in search of love. What motivates Andrew Rudnick, the Gatsby-esque character behind the parties?
Andrew Rudnick’s friends describe him as, “the Jew who stole Christmas,” the serial entrepreneur describes himself as, “the self-proclaimed master of making Jewish babies.” This year, the Matzoball will be sponsored by popular Jewish dating app JSwipe, but for many couples, Andrew Rudnick is a dating app! Rudnick admits that he regularly receives thank you letters from couples who met at one of his events and have since gone on to get married and have children. He even has a particular term for babies born as a direct result of his wild singles parties: little Matzo Balls.
The ball was the serial entrepreneur’s first venture. Andrew was born in Boston to an observant Jewish family who encouraged him to make a name for himself while always staying true to his roots. He attended Boston University and supported himself by bartending at the famous Boston nightclub: The Metro. Before Rudnick got into the club promotion business, venues were rarely open on Christmas Eve. However, like most American Jews, he still had Christmas day off. That Christmas Eve, Rudnick, fresh out of University, wanted to party and possibly meet his future wife. He attended a ball for Jewish singles held in a hotel ballroom.
Rudnick would later describe the atmosphere as being like high school prom except worse. He did not party that night and did not meet his future wife, although Rudnick did come up with a concept for a Christmas Eve Jewish singles club night of his own. Upon his return to work, he spoke to the Metro’s owners, brothers John and Patrick Lyons. Although they didn’t see much potential in the idea and were understandably dubious about making their staff work on Christmas Eve, the two Italian American brothers saw potential in the young, enthusiastic Rudnick and, possibly wanting to test his networking and organisational skills, made him an offer.
If Rudnick could find a third-party organisation and convince them to host the event, he could use the club on Christmas Eve. Rudnick never did find a host organisation. Instead, he created one: The Society of Young Jewish Professionals. If Rudnick’s idea was a little (excuse the pun) unorthodox, then his marketing tactics were, to put it bluntly, out of the park. By the time his first event rolled around, he had graduated from University, packed in the bartending job and begun work at a Boston-based real estate firm. While there, his duties, among other things, included canvassing local office blocks and handing out leaflets. However, when December rolled around, Rudnick stopped cruising the office blocks and instead went to the mall to hand out flyers for his events. He also visited all the local radio stations delivering matzo-ball soup to the DJs in a bid to coerce them into letting him on-air.
When one DJ finally allowed him on air, he allegedly told half of Boston that 3,000 people were going to show up, when in fact the number of tickets sold was a big fat zero. Somehow though, (perhaps due to some computer glitch or administrative error) that Christmas Rudnick made it onto Santa’s nice list. When Christmas Eve rolled around, 3,000 scantily clad guests were waiting to get into the club. The following week he quit his day job to become a serial entrepreneur specialising in Jewish matchmaking events all with increasingly outrageous Jewish-inspired names such as Valentine’s Day’s “Halvah Heart,” and the Passover-themed “Let My People Go.”
Of course, he does other things, Rudnick also worked in real estate and is currently the CEO of Medspa.com, a global network of health spas. Throughout the nineties, he ran a bi-annual magazine aimed at young Jewish professionals, his target audience. Nevertheless, every Christmas he organises outlandish parties and has indirectly created thousands of Jewish babies. Now in its 31st year, the Ball is more epic than ever and Rudnick, despite being in his fifties, and going a little grey around the edges, the father of three is more enthusiastic than ever. So what inspires him not just to keep the Matzoball tradition going but to expand and improve it every year?
Ultimately Rudnick is motivated by something beyond money or kudos or fame. As Andrew tells me over Skype, he believes his primary purpose in life is to unite people while at the same time maintaining close ties to Judaism. At the tender age of twenty, Rudnick volunteered with the Israeli army, describing it as, “a tremendous experience, a real sense of belonging.” In today’s fragmented, polarised world, he believes assimilation amongst his people is just as important as ever. His iconic club events, despite being primarily about partying and having fun, serve a more important purpose; one that he feels makes a big difference to the Jewish community in America and beyond.