The Jewish singles scene

Shake your tochis at holiday bashes and philanthropic parties.
By Donna M. Airoldi |
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With summer flings and the High Holidays behind us, now's the time for Jewish singles to start the fall mating and dating season. At Jewish dating site JDate (jdate.com), which organizes periodic events in New York, "we're seeing a move away from traditional mixers at bars or clubs," says public relations manager Arielle Schechtman. Yentas are out, activities are in.

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With summer flings and the High Holidays behind us, now's the time for Jewish singles to start the fall mating and dating season. At Jewish dating site JDate (jdate.com), which organizes periodic events in New York, "we're seeing a move away from traditional mixers at bars or clubs," says public relations manager Arielle Schechtman. Yentas are out, activities are in.

Holiday happenings


Starting five days after Yom Kippur, Sukkot celebrates the fall harvest, while Simchas Torah, marking the end of the annual Torah-reading cycle, immediately follows. "In terms of the social calendar, these are big events," says Miriam Eljas Goldman, founder of Blueprint (nyblueprint.com), an online event guide for young Jewish professionals. "They're celebratory, with a happy atmosphere, so they're great for meeting somebody."

New to the Jewish scene is the Sukkot Sizzle on Tuesday 28 at the Delancey (168 Delancey St between Attorney and Clinton Sts, sukkotsizzle.eventbrite.com; 7pm; $25). Attendees must bring a friend of the opposite sex and "be ready to pimp them out," says cofounder Michelle Slonim. Belly dancers, jugglers, a "kinky contortionist" and DJs will fill the main floor; two-on-two speed-dating activities and games are held on the rooftop. Slonim's next event, Date My Jewish Friend, takes place October 26 at the newly revamped comedy club Stand-Up NY (236 W 78th St between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway, datemyjewishfriendplay.com; 9:30pm; $35).

A more intimate Sukkot party with about 200 guests is Night Under the Stars at the Bryant Park Sukkah (42nd St at Sixth Ave, chabadyp.com; Tue 28 at 8:30pm; $36, advance $25), organized by Chabad Young Professionals—Chelsea/Murray Hill (formerly known as Jump New York). "It's a beautiful location and the crowd is low-key, but with a strong sense of community," says participant Josh Schwartz, 27.

The Jewish Community Center (334 Amsterdam Ave at 76th St, jccmanhattan.org) has multiple Sukkot mixers on its popular rooftop space, including Pizza in the Hut (Mon 27 6:30--8:30pm; $20) for New Yorkers in their twenties and thirties on the prowl. For the LGBT crowd, Sukkot Blowout: Drink and Dance Celebration (Sun 26 at 8pm; $12) is a laid-back gathering under the stars; an urban retreat called Queer Shabbaton New York follows in October, featuring a workshop called "Sects in the City 2: Queer Dating for a New Decade" (nehirim.org/qsny; Oct 29--31; $185).

Older singles can find their crowd at their own Dinner in the Sukkah at the JCC (Sat 25 at 8pm; $40), featuring a talk from psychotherapist Juliana Neiman on "Dating After 40." "The hottest JCC programs right now are those that target the forties and fifties demographic," says Goldman.

Beyond the fall, Hanukkah season is rife with social events, including an annual party thrown by Young Friends of the Museum of Jewish Heritage; Purim costume bashes from BangItOut and Aish.com are also mainstays. "During the past five years or so, Purim and Tu B'Av—which is basically a Jewish Valentine's Day in summer—have become cool," says Goldman.

Charity circuit


In addition to holidays, networking parties and charity balls draw singles like bees to apples and honey. "Whether [the focus is] charity, social or networking—they're just excuses. Let's cut right through it: People are going to these parties based on who they think is going to be there," says David Shapiro, an event planner for 15 years. "Dating and singles events have had a stigma.... It's more common now to attend networking or charity events to find someone."

City singles agree: "I'd rather go to a charity event and be around people who share similar interests than buy bottles and spend money in a club," says lawyer Aaron Zises, 27. "I want to be around people who have a little more substance."

For singles with a passion for Israel, the Achrai HaChagim Party, with Israeli-American network Dor Chadash, will celebrate the end of the fall holidays on October 9 at Hudson Terrace (621 W 46th St between Eleventh and Twelfth Aves, dorchadashusa.org; 9pm; $30, advance $25 ). The Great Pumpkin Party on October 23 is hosted by group Artists 4 Israel (Dershowitz Center, 220 36th St between Gowanus Expwy and Second Ave, Sunset Park, Brooklyn; artists4israel.org; 8pm; free). The night will have "more than 20 artists with pumpkin carvings, sanctioned food fights, obnoxious music, terrible alcohol and no shame," says founder Craig Dershowitz. The group's functions draw "an eclectic mix of Brooklyn kids trying to look their worst and Upper East Side girls trying to look their best," he says.

October is Jewish Social Action Month, and the Emerging Leaders and Philanthropists group of the UJA-Federation of New York has structured its observance into Social Action Week, culminating in the annual ELP Fall Bash (Canal Room, 285 West Broadway between Canal and Lispenard Sts; ujafedny.org; Oct 21 at 8pm; $60); discounts go to those who pitch in during the preceding volunteer week. "[People are] focusing on what aligns with their value system," says program director Michelle Waranch.

Young Jewish Professionals hosts its YJP Charity Ball on October 27 at Lucky Strike Lanes (624--660 W 42nd St at Twelfth Ave, yjpnewyork.org; $100), where organizers expect up to 1,000 attendees. "We cater to a high-end clientele, and the women are just as ambitious as the men," says YJP's Chana Groner. "Fifty percent of our attendees come to network, fifty percent come for the social aspect. Out of every social event we've had, a marriage has come out of it."

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