Anna Pulley, @annapulley
RedEye's sex columnist
May 2, 2013
I've spent the last year-and-half dating dudes from OKCupid, but now I'm in a place where I'm looking for a more serious relationship. I've been looking for alternatives to OKC, as well as meeting dudes IRL (in real life), and I've been thinking that JDate would be a good match for me. I was raised Catholic, and my family still celebrates Christmas and Easter, but I find that I have the best relationships with Jewish guys. What's the etiquette for joining a site like this when I'm not actually Jewish? --Goy Seeks Boy
"While JDate is clearly built for Jewish singles, and the vast majority of JDate's 750,000 members are Jewish singles interested in meeting other Jewish singles with the same faith and values, nobody is prohibited from joining the site," said Arielle Schechtman, Director of Public and Community Relations at Spark Networks, which owns JDate. Schechtman also pointed out that if you do decide to join, there's a religion section in your profile which includes the options "willing to convert," "not willing to convert" or "not sure if I'm willing to convert."
As to whether you should join, however: That's trickier. An informal sampling of Jewish folks on social media proved to be decidedly mixed on the issue of non-Jews joining Jewish dating sites. Some had no problem with it at all. Some found the prospect to be a kind of fetishization and were mildly offended because "it assumes Jewish men are a type. There are plenty of Jewish men (and women) who are sick of being held to the rich, Ivy-educated stereotype." Others thought the tradition of Jews only dating Jews was outdated. However, more than one person expressed a "Stop stealing our women/men" sentiment. While that may seem a tad alarmist, the concern isn't totally unwarranted. The most recent data from the National Jewish Population Survey (2000-2001) showed that 47 percent of Jews who married after 1996 chose a non-Jewish spouse, which is a 13 percent increase from 1970. If the gentile trend keeps going the way it's going, some are concerned the American Jewish community will be kaput.
Then there was the camp that were fine with you meeting Jews IRL but not online. "I haven't got a problem with cross-cultural romances," said one woman. "However, I do think JDate was made because it's hard to find other Jewish people in a largely non-Jewish world." She has a point. Niche dating sites are targeted to specific audiences. To flout that system requires a brazenness that won't be received well by everyone. But those who aren't down with your shiksappeal probably aren't destined to be your soulmate anyway, and in the realm of online dating, if someone's profile doesn't appeal to you, it's easy to just move on.
Despite the lack of consensus, everyone concurred that you should be upfront and honest about your cultural background and religious affiliations online, which I agree is solid advice (more on what to disclose on dates).
"I don't love it," wrote Tamar Caspi Schnall in a JDate blog. "But as long as they are checking off the appropriate categories so people aren't being deceived and know the full story and what they are getting into, then I think it's harmless."
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