Brad Weisberg’s mother, Barbara, had always asked to see her son’s dating account at Jewish singles site JDate.com. While visiting home for Yom Kippur last September, he let her root around. When he returned an hour later, he found that his mother had browsed hundreds of eligible women and scribbled notes about ten she thought would be best for her son.
And that gave Brad and his sister, Danielle, an idea: Combine the matchmaking prowess of the Jewish mother with the connecting power of the Internet to help young members of the chosen people fall in love with one another.
In November, the Weisberg siblings launched TheJMom.com, enabling Jewish mothers to meddle in their adult children’s love lives like never before.
“In the Jewish culture, people are constantly being set up,” explains Brad, 30, a Realtor who runs TheJMom.com out of his Lincoln Park apartment. “It’s ingrained in our culture. This is a social network of Jewish parents that can use e-mail to set their kids up.” He estimates the site’s matches have resulted in 60 dates.
You don’t have to be Jewish to use TheJMom.com; however, religious background—Ashkenazi, reform, Orthodox—is prominent in the site’s profiles. Though users skew almost exclusively straight, gay singles and their parents are also welcome.
Once young adults are registered (which is free through the end of February), their parents can scour lists of singles based on region. The 400 current members are scattered around the country, though Chicago is the most heavily represented.
When Mom finds perfect matches for her son or daughter, she e-mails the other mothers. If they agree their kids would hit it off, an e-mail is sent to the children informing them their parents have green-lit a meet-up.
A little invasive? Yup. But a big plus is that mothers might not be as shallow as their kids, says Danielle, 26, who’s getting her master’s in elementary education and student teaching from Loyola University; moms will recommend somebody who isn’t a ten in the looks department but has qualities that make up for appearance. “Sometimes [online daters] are not looking for the right things,” she explains. “I might not think that I’m attracted to a seven, but my mom might see his profile and see that we’re interested in the same things.” Barbara has been contacted by other parents via TheJMom.com to set up both her kids, Brad says, “but she didn’t think we’d be a match with their children.”
A ten in both looks and personality—according to his mother—is Kevin Leland. The 31-year-old Lincoln Park denizen has been registered on TheJMom.com since its launch, though he hasn’t been set up yet. (His mom has flagged one woman whose mother hasn’t responded.)
“Mothers have been checking out their kids’ profiles since online dating began,” he says. “This formalizes the process, putting control in the hands of moms.” Leland quickly adds, “Of course, the children still have the control of deciding whether or not to go out with the person.”
But that might upset Mother.