Hacking JDate to Find the Perfect Jewish Hubby

How Tech Guru Amy Webb Cornered the Online Dating Market

In Real Life: Amy Webb created a point system to rank men on JDate, and found Brian.
Courtesy of Amy Webb
In Real Life: Amy Webb created a point system to rank men on JDate, and found Brian.

By Sarah Seltzer

Published February 12, 2013, issue of February 15, 2013.
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As for the list’s title, recall the two tykes in “Mary Poppins” creating their description of the perfect nanny, a description that travels through the ether and morphs into Poppins’s curriculum vitae. That approximates how Brian felt when, a few dates into his relationship with Webb, he found out about his new flame’s methods. “When I saw the list… I thought, ‘Did she conjure me?’” he said.

Clearly, she didn’t have to worry about his appreciation for spreadsheets. In fact, Brian, an eye doctor, thought her JDate gaming “was an excellent solution to the problem.” They clicked, sometimes too well: Early on as parents, they were both scolded by their pediatrician for logging too much of their infant daughter’s activity into a binder.

But their IRL compatibility beyond the Mary Poppins lists was even better. Brian learned about Webb’s mom’s cancer (a sad reality of her life, which she had decided to omit from her super-profile) the same time that he learned about the list. He was able to sit with mother and daughter in the hospice, giving the family support and assurance that Webb’s daughter would be loved. And the couple meshed during the holidays. For both Amy and Brian their interpretation of their Jewishness — deeply cultural, but without the God aspect — is key to their ability to join together two families and create their own from the mix.

“The biggest mistakes Jewish people make [when dating] is, they don’t stop to think about what their Judaism means,” Webb said. “You can be Jewish but in different ways.” Or as Brian puts it, “I had taken another girl to Passover — it didn’t go well.”

Their story has a happy ending: two culturally Jewish data enthusiasts in love. But Webb thinks that her book, besides being an entertaining story of romancing in the digital age, has usefulness for everyone, even right-side-of-the-brain types, who have no interest at all in gaming, reverse engineering or putting algorithms together. It boils down to articulating desires. “Make a list of what you want. Even if you don’t score it, stare at it. It’s a really revolutionary thing,” she said.

Sarah Marian Seltzer is a writer in New York and a contributor to the Forward’s The Sisterhood blog. Find her at www.sarahmseltzer.com.


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