Jews' Next Dor

Congregation Beth David's Young Adult Group for Jewish 20 & 30 Somethings

What do a CBDYAGer, Newsweek, JDate, Rabbi’s and the “Intermarriage Problem” have in common?

Posted by challahbackgirl on January 18, 2008

(click to see more pictures) CBDYAGers Spruce Up Overfelt GardensThey are all part of a Newsweek article in the January 21 Issue (yes, today’s only January 17) entitled Sex and the Synagogue. CBDYAGer Noah Mamber, most recently seen sprucing up Overfelt Gardens, is an East Bay resident who answered the phone one morning to be interviewed by Newsweek. The call was courtesy of his home town Rabbi in New Jersey. The article is about a new JDate initiative to offer Rabbi’s bulk biscounts for JDate memberships for their single congregants in an effort to combat intermarriage.

The rise of interfaith marriage is a sensitive issue among American Jews, and now two powerful forces in the religion are teaming up to do something about it: rabbis and JDate, the top matchmaking Web site for Jewish singles. For the first time in its 10-year history, the site is offering a bulk rate to rabbis who want to buy membership accounts for their congregants. According to Gail Laguna, JDate’s vice president of communications, singles who sign up through their congregation get a slight discount on the site’s $149 six-month subscription fee. “This is a way for us to break down the walls of the synagogue,” said Rabbi Michael Cahana, who leads the Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, Ore. “We should use all the technological tools that are available to us.”

The rabbis who negotiated the bulk rate are also picking up the tab. Since September, Rabbi Donald Weber of Temple Rodeph Torah in Marlboro, N.J., has paid out of his own pocket for 24 six-month subscriptions. Cahana and Rabbi Kenneth Emert of Temple Beth Rishon in Wyckoff, N.J., who purchased a dozen three-month memberships, anted up for single congregants using money from their synagogues’ discretionary budget. “When I heard that another rabbi was putting his money where his mouth is, I did too,” says Emert, whose offer includes just one stipulation: “No mothers, no grandmothers.” Singles, in other words, have to sign up themselves. The financial aid is appreciated. If not for Emert, says 29-year-old public-interest lawyer Noah Mamber, “I would have had to choose between JDate and food.”

The rabbis say they felt compelled to act because of the gradual dilution of the faith through marriage. Almost half of American Jews marry non-Jews, a rate of exodus that has more than tripled since 1970. “This is about creating an opportunity,” says Cahana. Sometimes even Cupid needs a nudge.

Hat Tip to Book Maven and Noah

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