About that Jew-finding app…

Dear American Jews,

I know we’re worried about assimilation. I know it can be hard to find fellow members of the tribe who like long walks on the beach and headbanging to classic Beastie Boys. I understand the limitations of minority life and the imperative of “l’dor ve’dor”—“from generation unto generation.”

But please. Let’s not be reduced to this:

App finds you a Jew

Yenta, a new iPhone application that connects Jewish singles based on their location, debuted about a month ago, the latest in niche matchmaking.

Somewhat similar to the gay application Grindr [note: an app generally described by users in rather graphic sexual terms], the free mobile dating service uses GPS technology to allow users to peruse the profiles of nearby Jews.

…“You can walk into a coffee shop and you can find out who’s Jewish and single around you,” said creator Luba Tolkachyov.

Am I the only one totally creeped out by this? The only one whose very first reaction to technology that literally uncovers Jews in your immediate vicinity was to think about where I could hide them if need be?

I have two kids, and please God, they should enter the Torah, the chuppa (gay or straight, I don’t care), and good deeds. I genuinely—really and truly—want my kids to marry Jews and even (in the fullness of time, and only if they want to!) bring me Jewish grandbabies. They’re both too young to date yet, but not too young for me to start dreaming.

But the idea of them finding partners (for whatever…) via what amounts to (IMHO) a stalking app…? She’lo neda me’tsarot—we shouldn’t know from such troubles!

Aside from anything else, can you imagine the conversation?

“Hi, my phone tells me you’re Jewish! Is anyone sitting here?”

Let’s just, I don’t know, build some more Gaga pits and maybe host another Kiddush or two, instead. Ask my friends—I’m good for the kugel.

Crossposted from Open Zion/The Daily Beast.



  1. JHarper2

     /  October 12, 2012

    I just knew, before I read the post, that it would be called yenta. I don’t have a lot of Jewish background, but I did see Fiddler on the Roof, and I just knew that they would go there.
    And yes I thought a Jew finding app was kind of creepy and dangerous in a bad way.

    • The boy’s closet has a funny little crawl space behind it that we refer to as “the place we’ll hide Jews.”

      • Darth Thulhu

         /  October 14, 2012

        My place has a stairway up to the second story, with a tight storage space beneath it. We alternately joke that this is “where we’ll stuff the boy wizard we have to raise” or “where we’ll hide Jews when the Nazis come”.

        We’re a little off.

  2. David L

     /  October 12, 2012

    I use Grindr-type apps aimed at different gay subcultures (and met my current guy on one.) Beyond the lack of physical proximity, I don’t see that big a difference between messaging a stranger online and walking up to them in a bar. You can get out of these interactions what you want to–idle small talk, new friendships, someone just for tonight, someone for longer. Sure, you know whether they’re 2.85 miles away instead of across the table, but that’s about all you know about their location.

    • BUT IT’S JEWS!

      There’s kind of history.

      Also, personally? I think online provides just the right amount of distance over someone randomly walking up to me in a coffee shop, regardless of what I might be doing, thinking, feeling, etc, at the moment, and trying to strike up a conversation based entirely in the fact that they’ve secretly figured out that I might meet one of their criteria. A bar? You at least know what you’re in for. Other places? UGH AND YUCK. (imho)

  3. This is people using technology to meet each other. I do not see the problem, Emily.

  4. I’m with you. I have no desire to be approached by a stranger anywhere just because some app says we have something in common. how ridiculous.

  5. suburbancorrespondent

     /  October 14, 2012

    It’s a brave new world, honey. And, God willing, our children’s generation will not be as traumatized by the events of the Holocaust as we have been (shocked -yes, saddened – yes; but not traumatized).

    In college, my apartment had a fake wood paneled bathroom door that blended in perfectly with the fake wood paneling in the hallway. My Jewish friend and I always called it the Anne Frank bathroom. Every time he came over, he checked to see if there was a scared Jewish family hiding in the bathtub. Maybe our children will be spared such gallows humor.

    Although, really, it cracked us up every time.

  6. Darth Thulhu

     /  October 14, 2012

    Apropos of nothing, every time I hear about gaga pits, my mind goes to really, really weird places. It brings up two or three wildly divergent images at once and they mashup oddly.

    As an example, this time I got this image of Tilda Swinton in full White Witch regalia with a Lady Gaga disco-mirror-mask standing in an icy Empress’ box at a roman gladiatorial arena made entirely of ice, pointing a long claw at the Pevensie children in the arena below and shrieking “Send Them To The Gaga Pits!”, then tossing a plushy Aslan-skull to drop and bounce in front of the children while thousands of lithe, sweaty fawns dance in the stands to pounding breakbeats while Swinton belts out “Born This Way” in the midst of five costume changes.

    Needless to say, I laugh, then I fret, because holy heck weird. Also, “gaga” is a funny word.