December 8, 2005
JDate Welcomes Gays
For all the nice Jewish boys looking for other nice Jewish boys, JDate.com has come to the rescue.
The popular Jewish online dating site expanded its search capabilities this month to allow gay men -- and also lesbians -- to seek matches. The Web site now asks people for their gender and the gender they're searching, allowing men to search for men and women to search for women.
When his sister didn't marry a Jewish boy, Gary Pinsky was told by his mother that he had to. Pinsky, 32, joined JDate several weeks ago, after returning to New Jersey after living in South Africa for several years. He said he thinks he can find more serious suitors on the Jewish dating site.
"I've gotten three responses since I've joined," said Pinsky, a production stage manager. "They've all been very nice and seem to have a good head on their shoulders."
That's a big difference from other gay and lesbian dating sites, he said, where potential matches are less serious, and largely not Jewish.
"I didn't find a lot of Jews out there," Pinsky said.
Gail Laguna, vice president for communications at Spark Networks, JDate's parent company, said the Web site's revision came at the request of many Jewish singles.
With more than 600,000 active members, JDate has become one of the standards for niche online dating sites. The profiles of two Jewish congressmen have even been spotted on the site.
JDate officials say the original Web site did not intentionally exclude gay searches, but there was not a demand for it when the site was unveiled in 1997.
The new site includes other requested features, including a better system for identifying non-Jews. The site has become popular with non-Jews seeking Jews, and non-Jews now can express a willingness to convert as part of their online profiles.
But the expansion to gay searches has had the most immediate impact. In less than a month, 700 members have registered for same-sex searches, Laguna said.
She added there are no plans to market to the gay community or to include gays and lesbians in JDate's current media campaign.
The Jewish world's policies on gay rights and gay marriage vary wildly. Reform rabbis may perform gay unions, and the issue has been a hot topic within the Conservative movement, which unlike the Reform movement, does not permit the ordination of openly gay rabbis.
Orthodox groups oppose homosexual acts. The struggle of gay Orthodox Jews was the subject of a 2001 documentary, "Trembling Before G-d."
Straight people will not receive profiles of gay members or vice versa. But, alas, there's not yet a filter for screening out members of Congress.