Alexandra’s 28-year-old daughter, Alina, did not have trouble meeting eligible men to date; she was just having trouble finding the right one, her beshert.
So, as Jewish mothers have been doing for centuries, Alexandra decided to take matters into her own hands.
After reading in her local Jewish paper about TheJMom.com, an Internet site designed for Jewish mothers trying to find matches for their children, Alexandra logged on, creating first a profile about herself, and then uploading information about Alina.
“I first asked my daughter if it was OK, because she was negative about Internet dating,” said Alexandra, who was born in Ukraine and moved to New Jersey with her family in 1996. “She said ‘OK,’ to please me.”
That was in December 2010. Alexandra checked the site periodically, looking for a potential match for Alina. In March 2011, Alexandra found him.
“I happened to see this guy. He was cute and he had a lot of similarities to my daughter,” Alexandra said. “I told her if you give me your permission, I’ll send his mom an e-mail.”
After Alexandra and Anatoly’s mom made their own connection, they shared photos and other information with their children. Alina and the young man, Anatoly, who lived in Texas, soon began e-mailing each other directly. Four and half months later they met, and Anatoly proposed shortly after that.
They were married last month.
“Kids don’t have much time for dating,” Alexandra said. “And it’s hard to meet people. I think the website is a great thing. Parents should be involved. Kids may be busy and not have the time.”
The JMom is the brainchild of Chicago siblings Brad and Danielle Weisberg, who had the idea for the site one day when they were visiting their mother. She was unhappy with Brad’s relationship status (i.e., single), and she asked Brad if she could look at his JDate profile.
“I had just turned 30,” Brad Weisberg said. “And I just let her do it.”
He and his sister left the house for about an hour, and when they returned they found their mother glued to the computer screen, pencil and paper in hand, with the names of 10 girls she thought might make a good match for Brad.
“We were laughing hysterically,” Weisberg said. “Then my sister said, ‘Wait. This is not a bad idea.’ ”
Realizing that moms often have more time — and money — to spend on perusing dating websites than their busy offspring, Brad and Danielle decided to set up a network of Jewish parents all wanting their children to find Jewish mates.
The Weisbergs also realized that sometimes, in matters of love, mom does know best.
“My mom was looking at much more than the pictures [when perusing JDate], which is pretty much all I look at,” Weisberg said. “She was looking at common interests, and for an emotional connection.”
Family comes first on TheJMom, with moms posting photos and information about their families, as well as photos and information about their single children.
Alexandra believes that information about a child’s family is invaluable when looking for a match.
“If it’s a nice family, the kids are usually good, too,” she said.
The mothers using the site do not actually arrange the dates for their children, but rather make suggestions once they have pre-screened eligible men and women and their families.
“The moms don’t actually set up their kids,” Weisberg said. “But when both moms feel they have found a match, they press a button on the site with their contact information and profile information. It’s then 100 percent up to the kids to contact each other and go on a date.”
Busy singles have been turning to Internet dating sites for years. Seventeen percent of couples that were married in the last three years met on an online dating service, and one out of every five singles in the United States has dated someone he or she met online, according to a study done in 2010 by Chadwick Martin Bailey.
“It’s hard to meet people, particularly in bigger cities,” Weisberg noted. “But I am open to being set up. Using the Internet is one way to have Jews meet other Jews.”
TheJmom, which currently has over 1,500 members from the United States, Israel and Canada, is now free of charge, although Weisberg says there will soon be a small fee to join.
The site has been well received, Weisberg said.
“One mother said, ‘This is like giving me the key to the bank vault,’” he recounted. “This is every Jewish mother’s dream.”
As for Alexandra, she believes that any Jewish mother hoping to find a match for her son or daughter should encourage her child to be open to the Internet concept.
“I would say don’t give up,” she advised. “Sometimes you have to push. If I didn’t push, my daughter wouldn’t have met this guy she loves. If you are Jewish, and you want to marry Jewish, this is the best way.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)