Jewish singles groups arent exactly a Garden of Eden for Bay Area men

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Singlehood isn't tough only for Jewish women. Their male counterparts also face an uphill battle.

So says Reid Greenberg, former co-chairman and present member of one such group called Jews United for Social Interaction, a South Bay group with an e-mail list of several hundred.

The 35-year-old optical engineer from Phoenix, who now lives in Sunnyvale, has been in the Bay Area for nearly three years and has explored every avenue he could think of to meet a soulmate. He now has a girlfriend he met through JUSI, but his memory of the search is burned on his brain.

"I tried ads in the newspaper. I attended events of all the Jewish groups I could find. I even tried a dating service and the Internet. I figured that the more outlets I tried, the better chance I'd have," he said.

In a perfect world, he said, he and other single Jewish men would find and fall in love with nice Jewish women and have Jewish children.

"But the older I get, the more willing I am to bend the rules. If I can't get everything I want, at least I can get some of what I want," he said. And that includes the possibly of marrying a non-Jew.

As for groups targeting Jewish singles and young adults, well, they aren't exactly a Garden of Eden for men.

The difficulties include a poor female-to-male ratio at most events, he said, and a perception of rampant "nebbish-ism."

One of the problems single Jewish men seem to encounter, he said, is the perception that American Jewish men in general are nerds.

"I think a lot of Jewish singles groups do attract a lot of those, but I don't think most American Jewish guys are nebbishes," he said.

"At many of these functions," he added, "the ratio is pretty bad for the guys, especially in Silicon Valley, where there are lots of male engineers…That's one of the first things you ask another guy after one of these events. You ask how the ratio was."

A ratio of three or four men for every woman is not uncommon. "At a really good event, you'll get half and half," he said, but usually these events tend to attract many more men than women.

Greenberg believes that the disparity can be explained, at least in part, by the fact that many women are hesitant to go alone to an event where they don't know anyone, and which may, in their view, resemble a meat market.

The farther north an event is held from the center of Silicon Valley, the better the ratio seems to be for men, Greenberg noted.

"We try to hold JUSI events as far north as possible, because you tend to get larger numbers of participants and a more even ratio of guys to girls, the closer you get to the city. There are also fewer computer engineers there, and engineers tend to have weaker social skills than the general population."

But even with the problems inherent in groups for Jewish singles and young adults, he asserts, they are still a good resource.

"Just finding someone you like, with whom you have something in common, and who likes you back, is difficult…With a Jewish group, you know you have something in common with the people there already. There aren't many outlets to meet people, and these types of groups are a good way to do it," he said.

"My advice, and what I did, is just get out there. Go to these groups. Don't go just one or two times and quit. Keep going and get to know the people. Make friends and contacts. And don't be too aggressive with the women. They don't like it."

Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Rachel Raskin-Zrihen is a longtime Bay Area journalist and co-author of the book "Jewish Community of Solano County." She is a wife and mother of two grown sons and grandmother of three.