Philanthropic Young Jews Seek Same

Tired of JDate, Jewish Professionals Look for Love at Fundraisers

By Laura Sinberg

Published November 11, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Tara Lyn Gordon, the 26-year-old founder of Artists 4 Israel, says she averages three dates a week from the fundraisers she’s been attending for three years. “Last week [I had] five: two in the same day,” she said.

Gordon goes to the fundraisers as a way both to network and to meet potential matches, and she feels that the benefits of meeting people at events are numerous. “I’m not a big drinker, and I’m not a fan of meeting people at a bar at 2 a.m.… the people you meet have similar mindsets as you, and since the events start at 7 or 8 p.m., people aren’t bombed yet,” she explained.

And she noted that even if you don’t end up with a date, there is a good chance that a person you meet there will set you up with a friend. Charity fundraisers in major cities across the country are quickly becoming an increasingly popular way for young Jewish singles to meet potential dates and help causes close to their hearts, all in one shot. Web sites like charityhappenings.org and masterplanneronline.com, master calendars for charity events that cater to the under-45 set, are springing up in surprising numbers.

“It’s the absolute best place to meet people,” said 27-year-old Justin Baer, founder and publisher of the for-profit site charityhappenings.org.

And young singles, sick of the bar scene or of JDate, seem to agree.

Baer’s site has gained 30,000 followers since its launch in December 2007. The site, which is free both for browsing and for posting events, caters to singles in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington and Palm Beach, Fla. A typical young-professional event that Baer lists costs $75 to $100 and usually includes an open bar and hors d’oeuvres. “These are not events that are $500 or $1,000 a ticket,” he said, noting that the they are mostly young-leadership events, and priced accordingly.”

For those who can’t afford to shell out that kind of money, there are other events that are cheaper or donation optional. The last Sunday night of every month in Manhattan, for example, Artists 4 Israel has something called the (S)kin Life Drawing class (the model is nude) for $15 that includes mingling before and after and an open bar.

Baer said that the people who attend fundraisers are classier than the men and women you’d find at bars, and “less sketchy” than the online dating crowd.

Of the 2,000 parties listed on his site throughout the year in New York City, a young person can find at least one explicitly Jewish or pro-Israel charity event in New York City each week to attend, Baer said.

Zvi Lantsberg, 28, met Naomi Dabi, 26, at one such event — a Jewish National Fund fundraiser — less than a year ago, and the two were engaged 10 months later. “I saw that she really cared about philanthropy, and that’s a big portion of my life,” Lantsberg said. “She actually came to the event because she wasn’t involved in a lot of charities. We talked for an hour and a half. It wasn’t like a meet-market thing.”

The couple plans to marry in Israel next May.

Tired of the bar scene, Eric Shaffer, a 28-year-old currency trader who works at Citigroup in New York, began attending fundraisers three years ago as a way to support his favorite causes and to meet women. He said that Jewish events in particular mitigate the awkwardness that occurs in other social scenarios of asking a potential date her religious affiliation. “At these events, you don’t have to ask those questions, it’s just sort of a given,” he said.

Baer himself has long been involved in charity; his family’s foundation, the Baer Family Foundation, funds various Jewish outreach programs. He said he thought of the idea for charityhappenings.org after realizing that two Jewish organizations were throwing fundraisers on the same night. “I thought, ‘You need a master calendar,’” he recalled.

He said his single lifestyle also played a role: “I was a single, young guy. I knew the best places to meet girls were at these events, and there was no one comprehensive place where I could say, oh, I’m free this week; it’s $50 for the JNF happy hour.”

One encounter at an event led to a year-and-half-long relationship, but in the end, it didn’t work out.

So after two years, has the master planner met his match? “I’m still single,” Baer said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.