Matchmaker merges online dating with social networking

Tired of being single? Don’t worry — a modern-day yenta is here to rescue you.

A new Jewish dating Web site based in San Francisco promises to connect Jews from around the globe with the newest technologies.

Alexandra Weiss

“We want to create something that is explicitly Jewish, where people go and talk about the holidays and people care about Jewish culture,” said founder and CEO Alexandra Weiss.

The Web site gives members flexibility in their profiles by allowing them to keep a blog, post videos and even connect with their friends who are also using — similar to Facebook — so that date seekers can see not only what someone has to say or what they look like, but the kind of company they keep.

“You can learn a lot about a person by seeing who their friends are,” Weiss said.

Weiss said the “yenta” part of the Web site’s name refers to the enormous amount of personal information that is shared and consumed on the site. The “911” is a reference to the fact that the Jewish population is declining, which for Weiss is an urgent call to spark some matchmaking.

Yenta911 seeks to be what other Jewish dating sites are not.

It has a different and more transparent billing structure than some of its competitors. Other dating sites automatically charge their members after their subscriptions lapse, until they explicitly cancel their membership. In contrast, Yenta911 only charges its members for the duration of their registration.

Weiss grew up in Jerusalem. When she was 24, she moved to Scotland, then London, Boston, Portland and finally San Francisco, where the 36-year-old mother of two has lived for the past two years.

She has worked as a software engineer and financial planner. About a year ago, she decided to lay the groundwork for an online dating Web site, which became Yenta911.

“The competition [among online dating Web sites] is absolutely fierce, but everybody starts somewhere,” Weiss said. She wants “to attract people who want to promote Jewish culture and really love it, like us. I think it will catch on — I have a good feeling.”

Dennis Mendel, 51, a divorced father of two from San Francisco, signed up for Yenta911 in September after trying JDate and JPeopleMeet.

com. He liked the social networking aspect of Yenta911 and that fact that it had more dynamic technology, such as video and blog capabilities, than the others. He also felt as though the people on Yenta911 were more serious about dating and Jewish culture and practice.

For instance, he received quite a bit of spam on other sites, mostly from young women from Russia or Eastern Europe who “seemed to be looking for a husband to stay in the country,” he said.

“Yenta911 is more homey to me — it felt more like a Jewish home,” Mendel added. “I feel more comfortable there.”

Stacey Palevsky

Stacey Palevsky is a former J. staff writer.