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2011-08-26 digital edition
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August 26, 2011  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

JMom: ‘Mother’ of all dating sites:

You-know-who goes online to make a match
Washington Jewish Week

Gary Gondos of Bethesda, MD, whose mom, Myra, joined The JMom website at his request. Gary Gondos of Bethesda, MD, whose mom, Myra, joined The JMom website at his request. WASHINGTON – Loren Rosenzweig earned a coveted spot in the pantheon of uber-Jewish motherhood by surreptitiously enlisting the help of a military chaplain – in Iraq, no less – to find a husband for her unsuspecting and initially mortified 25-yearold daughter, Annie.

Reflecting on the recent episode, the newly married Annie, who lives with her husband in the trendy Dupont Circle neighborhood in Washington, expressed conflicted feelings. Her mother’s unauthorized intervention had worked out well for her in the marital department, she conceded in an interview with the Washington Jewish Week, but added that “it might embolden Jewish mothers everywhere” to pull the same stunt.

Note to Annie: They’ve already been emboldened, thanks to a novel approach to electronic matchmaking.

A new Jewish dating website called JMom “actually encourages moms to do the picking for their children,” according to a JMom spokesperson. “As Annie learned, moms sometimes do know best.”

The website is the brainchild of Chicagobased siblings Brad and Danielle Weisberg (ages 30 and 27, respectively), whose mother, Barbara, was their inspiration for her dogged efforts to try to set them up with the right person. Alas, both are still single – but Barbara’s search goes on.

“That’s all she thinks about,” Brad said with a chuckle.

“I think Jewish mothers get a bum rap,” said Barbara, who is in her 60s and has been married 37 years. (She met her husband, Frank, on a blind date.) “There’s nothing wrong with suggesting a date for your child, but I will not push them. Some people are very assertive with their children in this area, but I’m not that way. It’s just that it’s very difficult to meet people, so it’s nice to have someone involved who has a different perspective.”

The JMom, which was launched early this year, has about 1,000 parent members. The children involved are mostly in their 20s and 30s, but they range in age from late teens to early 60s. For now, The JMom’s services are offered for free, “but if we keep growing,” said Brad, the owner of an Internet company, “we’ll probably have to charge something to keep the lights on.”

The JMom typically works like this: A parent (usually a mom) posts his or her child’s dating profile on the site, along with a few paragraphs on family background, in hopes of connecting with other Jewish parents who have submitted the same type of data. If the two groups of parents agree that a match may be in the offing, they each press a button that sends the profiles to their respective kids, thus setting the stage for personal contact between the profilees themselves.

Ideally, no information is submitted and no buttons are pressed without the consent of the profilees, according to Danielle, who recently received her master’s degree in elementary education and hopes to go into Jewish education.

“We don’t want them to do anything behind anybody’s back,” she said.

Some 150 matches have been authorized by The JMom profilees, but no one knows if any have resulted in marriages.

Participating Washington area parents include Carolyn Makovi, 59, of Silver Spring, MD. A few weeks ago she asked her 27-year-old son, Matthew, if he would mind if she assembled a dating profile and posted it on The JMom.

“He didn’t sound enthusiastic,” Makovi recalled, “but he didn’t say ‘leave me alone and mind your own business,’ so I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’m just trying to help out and provide him with another possible avenue.”

The profile describes Matthew as a 5-foot- 8-inch graduate of Montgomery College who works in retail sales; loves movies, music, sports, reading and his dog; and is not religious. (Makovi, meanwhile, noted that she is a member of a Reconstructionist congregation.) Matthew has twice been to Israel, once with Taglit-Birthright.

“My son is fiercely loyal and very sensitive,” the profile continues. “Outwardly, he may come across as ‘prickly’ but deep inside he is a loving soul. He values his friends and does not use the word ‘friend’ lightly. He has his friends’ backs, and he expects them to have his.”

What’s he looking for in a signif icant other? Someone who is loyal, apolitical (or centrist), loves Israel and “identifies strongly with the Jewish people, even if she is not ‘religious,’” according to his profile. Elaborating on Matthew’s political stance, Makovi said in an interview that he’s a libertarian who “calls himself an anarchist, but that doesn’t mean he throws firebombs or anything like that. He just thinks that the government is too big and he doesn’t need it to tell him how to live his life.”

Sort of like a tea partier?

“Sort of, but he doesn’t like Sarah Palin,” Makovi said.

Makovi said she has not yet found a likely match through The JMom, but she’ll continue to look. Nor has she been contacted by prospective in-laws. Matthew, whom his mother described as being “very private,” could not be reached for comment.

The JMom member Myra Gondos of Oakton, VA, credited the long-distance matchmaker Rosenzweig with being “very smart,” but added, “I don’t think we should be hovering mothers.” Moms add a critical element to the matchmaking process, she said, because their goal is to act in the best long-term interests of their children – something the children themselves sometimes overlook.

Young romance-seekers often are preoccupied with looks and other superficial characteristics that don’t necessarily translate into a long-lasting relationship, according to the creators of The JMom. Plus, exposure to a profilee’s parents can produce invaluable intelligence about the culture in which that child was raised, potentially a good tipoff on whether that person might make a good life partner.

Gondos joined The JMom at the request of her son, Gary, 39, who suffered a stroke following surgery and has a disability as a result.

“Naturally he has found it difficult to meet someone,” the profile states, but he has managed to retain his independence. His religious background is Modern Orthodox. He lives in Bethesda, MD, does computer work for the government, and his interests include sports, travel and theater, according to his profile.

“He may not be able to dance,” said his mother, “but he’s a caring, loving individual and he would make a good husband and father.”

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