Jewish matchmaking sites abound — from frum to gay

OK, a Jewish holiday it isn't, but a lot of American Jews still get a tingly feeling every year when Feb. 14 rolls around.

If that describes you, never fear; the World Wide Web has plenty of sites to help you along the great highway of romance, and ease you past some of the potholes.

In the Old Country, the matchmaker was a big deal; today, it's the Jewish dating-service Web site. There are dozens of them — mostly commercial enterprises, running the gamut from slick sites aimed at secular young professionals to cozier frum sites that seek to replicate some of the functions of the traditional matchmaker.

Let's face it; most of these sites are amazingly similar. You fill out a long questionnaire with your likes and dislikes, you say what you're looking for in a match and — most important, for many — you whip out a credit card to pay fees that seem to average about $20 per month.

Then you check out the pictures, the silly little profiles and if you like what you see, you start an e-mail correspondence.

Most of these sites offer anonymous e-mailing — so you communicate through the service, not directly. That protects you from giving your e-mail address to flakes.

A good example:, a big commercial service that claims more than 250,000 members in this country alone, and, if you're into exotic travel, three in Samoa.

The heart of the site is a search engine. Plug in what you're looking for — gender, age and country — and then page your way through the hundreds of hits.

As in most of these sites, there's a teaser; you can run a search for free, but you can't send e-mails to the cuties you find unless you are a paid-up member.

Once you're a member, you can put your own ad, complete with mug shot, on the site.

Oh yes, there are romance chat rooms, online dating advice columns and the like.

The site is reasonably attractive and easy to navigate. But like all online dating services, it's almost impossible to evaluate its effectiveness without actually trying it. costs about $28 per month, with modest discounts for multi-month memberships. It's at

But shop around. Go to one of the big Jewish Web portals like Maven — –and navigate your way to the singles area to check out the vast number of other commercial Jewish dating services.

You can get a different slant on romance at the Aish HaTorah Web site — — operated by the big outreach-minded Orthodox group.

In the dating section you'll find an assortment of sober articles that give a more religious perspective on love and romance, including lots of practical advice: "Ten Ways to Marry the Wrong Person," " Ten Golden Rules."

You can also follow a link to learn more about Aish HaTorah's great contribution to Western civilization: SpeedDating.

In fact, Aish now offers two choices. You can attend Aish SpeedDating events in cities around the country, including the Bay Area (the site provides a schedule), or you can participate in the online variant, which involves a series of 7-minute private chats with potential matches.

You can participate in the basic service for free; premium services have a modest charge, much less than commercial online dating services.

Not to be outdone, the Net-savvy folks at Chabad have their own online matchmaking service catering to the observant crowd. Mit Mazel — at — bills itself as the place "where Jewish singles click."

While you can browse and become an associate member for free, you won't really click without laying out a $75 one-time fee for full membership — and getting certification from a rabbi or Lubavitch official.

Full members can contact each other or have their sponsors arrange things, just like in the Old Country, but at 56k baud.

One thing you won't find on the Chabad or Aish sites: gay dating services. But not to worry: NuYenta — — is waiting to help you.

The choices here are simple: men seeking men and women seeking women. All the basics, and the price is about average — $19 per month. A cute interface, to boot.

The writer is a Washington-based correspondent who has been writing about Jewish Web sites since the early 1990s. His columns alternate with those of Mark Mietkiewicz. Besser can be reached at [email protected]