“I’ve always wanted to be set up.” Cantor was one of 150 people who recently signed up to fill out personal information in order to be matched and sent out on a date through the hard work of some young members of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco known as The Yentas.
She’s also one of the 55,000 young and single Jews in the Bay Area, according to this year’s “Portrait of Bay Area Jewish Life and Communities,” a survey commissioned by the S. It’s a generation that finds itself hustling to make ends meet and increasingly strapped for time, yet drawn to a back-to-the-roots dating scene, where meeting in real life is taking on a sense of retro authenticity appealing in a largely online world.
And if you take the age range a little higher, it’s an even bigger population boom: 37 percent of Jewish adults in the Bay Area, according the survey, are between 18 and 34. And in spite of perennial angst about young people not being interested in Judaism, they seem fairly interested in dating other Jews.
“What I hear is, I’d like to, but it’s not a deal-breaker,” said Sharon Siegel, who manages young adult engagement at the Federation, putting together events such as happy hours and small dinners where people can eat and mingle.
“People definitely come here [to an event for young adults] with that intention sometimes,” said Rachel Schonwetter, assistant director for community engagement at Emanu-El, where there’s a popular “Late Shabbat,” a pre-Shabbat meditation and even an adult summer camp, all for the 20s and 30s crowd.
To make it easier for her friends is why Bycer and the other members of the young adult leadership at Emanu-El decided to do something.
Once they were matched, the boy had to approach the girl, in a tongue-in-cheek throwback to more old-fashioned times, and he also had to call, not text. But even he could imagine that one day, when he’s ready to settle down, it might be nice to do it with someone Jewish.
“These niche communities don’t necessarily have apps specifically for them,” she said.
And that return to real-life interactions is part of a trend.
Even JDate, the 20-year-old dating site targeted to Jews, has turned to a marketing strategy of “Powered by Yentas,” using the face of a 90-year-old woman in a bid to evoke the power of matchmaker over algorithm.
The website, currently in its trial period, uses an algorithm to divide users into groups based on factors such as age and geographical location.
Users are asked to identify their gender as well as their sexual and romantic attraction to men and women on a sliding scale.