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Amid COVID, Jews create a personal ad to make Bubbe blush — and laugh

“Stronger than your bubbe’s horseradish on Passover.”

“Thicc as your bubbe’s matzah balls.”

“Your bubbe’s wet dream.”

You might think that this combination of sex and yiddishkeit belongs nowhere except the pages of a Phillip Roth novel. But it’s actually a huge part of love in the time of corona, at least for the Jews.

Meet the “hype post”: the dating profile forged in the pandemic. BC — before coronavirus — singletons in search of love wrote earnest manifestos and sent them out into the ether. AC, there’s a third, and sometimes a fourth, party involved. (It’s not what you’re thinking.)

The extra people are working as wingmen, the friend who facilitates your approach to a hottie in the bar — or in this case, on the internet. When you’re trying to convince a cute stranger to Zoom with you sight unseen, you need someone to vouch for you. You need a reference stating that you’re of good character and will be good in bed. It’s a little bit like your mother advertising your availability for a one-night stand. That’s a hype post, and they appear on the Jewish Facebook groups that have sprung up since the pandemic’s onset to act as virtual matchmaking services.

The funny thing, said the founder of one such Facebook group, Ian Mark of CoronaCrush, is that hype posts bear some similarity to posts written by matchmakers in the Orthodox world. To be sure, hype posts are often overtly sexual. Then again, they’ve emerged in an era of forced chastity.

No matter how much innuendo a hype post contains, its subjects must establish a connection “without sex or anything physical involved,” Mark said, just as many Orthodox couples do.

Hype posts may be full of innuendo, but for now their subjects have to establish intimacy without sex.

Hype posts may be full of innuendo, but for now their subjects have to establish intimacy without sex. Image by Facebook

Hype posts share a certain tongue-in-cheek idea of what constitutes a nice Jewish boy or girl. Gainful employment is a must. Everyone is studying to become doctors or lawyers or, more murkily, they’re “in finance.” They serve expertly braided challah to friends every Friday, but they’re also prepared to “down the kiddush cup.”

The subjects of hype posts home will fit in easily at family dinners — but more importantly, they represent an end to quarantine-enforced family togetherness. You may have no idea when adult life will resume, the hype posts suggest, but by Zooming with a stranger you can imagine a world in which it’s once more possible to pursue a “hella satisfied sex life” out of earshot of your blood relatives.

Hype posts share a certain idea of what constitutes a nice Jewish boy or girl.

Hype posts share a certain idea of what constitutes a nice Jewish boy or girl. Image by Facebook

Hype posts make good on their boasts with a dizzying array of photos that collectively read as an elegy to youth put on hold: tanned Jews and Jewesses lounging on crowded beaches in Tel Aviv, posing next to high-touch surfaces in clubs, recklessly inhaling the aerosols of sorority sisters. Future doctors trying on their white jackets are ubiquitous, as are complicated challahs and dewy bikini photos staged by pools in Los Angeles or Great Neck.

Hype posts may be ironically erotic, but they're written by friends with love.

Hype posts may be ironically erotic, but they’re written by friends with love. Image by Facebook

That shift might be prompted by the loneliness of living at home, isolated from friends and flings. Even those who were busily sowing their wild oats before quarantine might now find career goals and breakfast preferences as important as a beach body.

“I think people are lacking human connection,” Mark said. “And our group has a strong focus on real human connection.”

Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at connelly@forward.com.

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