What It’s Really Like to Attend the MatzoBall


From what I’ve heard, the MatzoBall has always been portrayed as a Jewish singles event to go to when everything else is closed for Christmas, and the ultimate goal is — natch — to make a match.

’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the MatzoBall, some Jews were schmoozing, while others leaned their backs against the walls.

MatzoBalls, the social event of the holiday season for 20- and 30-somethings, have been around for almost 30 years in 14 cities all over the country, bringing together young Jews on Christmas Eve — after they’ve had their Chinese food, of course.

From what I’ve heard, the MatzoBall has always been portrayed as a Jewish singles event to go to when everything else is closed for Christmas, and the ultimate goal is — natch — to make a match.

Those who have been to previous iterations of this Christmas Eve tradition confirm it is frequently just as awkward as it sounds: being crammed into a loud room and having random men approach you with the intent of getting numbers, or, if they really want to cut to the chase, a wife.

I mean, as silly as these things sound, it definitely creates results: These meet-and-greet dances/social gatherings/soulmate hunts — whatever you want to call it — have been known to work. Proof: It’s how one of my friend’s parents connected back in the day, and the MatzoBall itself stakes its success to 29 years’ worth of “innumerable friendships, hookups and marriages.”

Leading up to my first mingling marathon, I really did not know what to expect — but somehow, the Internet knew I was coming.

In preparation, I opened my JSwipe app the day before the ball after many months of collecting virtual dust to see what I’d be up against. And of course, the first thing I saw was an ad for the MatzoBall — offering a $5 discount.

Maybe it was a sign. Maybe the all-powerful matchmakers had plans for me. Or maybe it was the power of promoted and targeted ads (leaning toward that one).

So with all of this in the back on my mind, I followed the motto of my close friend group — “do it for the story” — and headed to Rumor nightclub on Sansom Street on Christmas Eve to join the other 400 to 500 revelers.

After about 30 seconds of making the rounds and gaining the lay of the land, a tiny Jewish man approached me and asked if I was also here for the MatzoBall.

And away we went.

It didn’t take long for several men to ask me why I was there, although I thought that was a rather rhetorical question.

As the bar filled up, my febrile prognostications of the event falling somewhere in between an awkward middle school dance — boys on one side, girls on the other — and an epic Jewish wedding of a distant cousin were replaced with the fact that it was, in reality, just a nightclub. Not even a super-Jewish nightclub, which I realized after a nice Indian gentleman asked me why I wasn’t at home with my family celebrating the holiday.

Let that sink in for a second.

I did my best to observe from afar, which I’m sure any young woman alone at a bar would attest to as well, but I soon paired up with a fellow MatzoBaller. I’ll leave his name anonymous, but there’s a 50 percent chance it’s David.

David hasn’t been particularly successful finding a serious relationship from these events, but he hasn’t given up hope.

After saying he’s been to many of these events of his own volition, he became enthralled with the idea that I would be writing this article and proceeded to provide insight to this novice MatzoBaller.

First off, we noticed that, as I mentioned, it didn’t feel like a particularly Jewish event. There seemed to be a decent amount of non-Jews, particularly Asian men, who just wanted to go out with their buddies because they also had nothing to do on Christmas.

And the male-to-female ratio was surprisingly unbalanced — I estimated about 70 percent men and 30 percent women during the time I was there.

Most of the men stayed in their respective male-specific friend groups — not to leave out the women who did the same — and the ones without a group to fall back on either did one of two things.

They either mingled around the entire room as quickly as possible — so much so that their bubbes would be proud — and spent only about three minutes with a stranger to see if they hit it off before moving on to the next.

If they weren’t doing that, they did the complete opposite and remained glued to the wall, staring at their cellphones.

One guy I noticed spent 30 minutes just standing there staring at his phone, which made me think: What is the point of a MatzoBall — an event with the intention of finding a partner — if you don’t talk to anyone? Have these parties become less important for this generation?

From these observations, I discovered that this is definitely not your mother and father’s Matzo-Ball. Things have changed. From what I can tell, it’d be very difficult to find a serious relationship in a loud, neon-hued nightclub.

But maybe it varies from city to city. Of course, I can’t say matches never come from these get-togethers. And maybe I’m being my inherently pessimistic self, but in this day and age, there’s no way a serious long-term relationship can come out of Rumor nightclub.

So maybe this MatzoBall was far different from my very minimal expectations. I certainly did not find a husband (nor was I looking). But at least I got a free gin and tonic out of it (thank you, David), and the only thing better than two Jews meeting their beshert is one Jew getting free drinks.

*Note to readers: As much as it is appreciated, please do not call to set me up with your sons.

Contact: rkurland@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0737



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