Eight parties in eight cities in one night: There was a time for Andy Rudnick when that was a logistical nightmare.
Now, in the digital age, the 32nd annual “MatzoBall” Jewish singles parties on Christmas Eve are easier than ever to put together, and more importantly, easier to promote, a far cry from the “guerilla warfare” of the days when he had to hawk the party to editors and DJs. As far the party itself, well …
“It’s gonna be business as usual,” said Rudnick.
The first MatzoBall began in Boston in 1987, when Rudnick identified a need for young Jews with nothing to do on Christmas Eve. Since then, more than 400,000 people have attended the MatzoBall over the years as it has expanded to various cities. This year’s Philadelphia MatzoBall is expecting at least 600 attendees. For Rudnick, who’ll be in Miami this year — he can’t stand the northern winters, he said — it’s just another year living the dream.
“It gives me a sense of purpose,” he said.
This year’s party brings some new elements, according to Jordyn Cohen, national events manager of MatzoBall. They’ve partnered with JDate, JSwipe and Birthright, organizations that had promoted the party in the past; now, they’ll be at the party itself, tossing out party giveaways. And most importantly, after the party, they’ll be partnering with MatzoBall to create what Rudnick calls “Eventbrite for Jews,” an all-in-one social calendar of Jewish singles events across the country.
New York; Miami; Del Rey, Fla.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Los Angeles; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and Philadelphia will all host MatzoBall parties this year.
“It’s a great atmosphere, it’s a great vibe, it’s festive and it’s fun,” said Cohen, who had attended a Miami MatzoBall before she went to work for Rudnick. “We’re not a typical, as we like to say, ‘temple dance.’” She gets calls all the time, she said, from married couples who met at MatzoBall. But don’t take her word for it — take Rudnick’s marriage.
He met his wife Catherine (“She is Jewish, though”) at MatzoBall 1997 in Boston, where she was working as a bartender.
“It was love at first sight, I looked at her and I said to myself, ‘That’ll keep me married,’” he said.
The problem, of course, was that he was engaged at the time, so he kept to himself. A month later, the engagement was off, and a month after that, on Valentine’s Day, he asked her out for the first time.
By June they’d bought a house together. In September they were engaged, in January they were married, and Catherine was pregnant with twin girls in February.
Even though he’s not as young as he used to be the prospect of creating parties for the children of MatzoBallers of years past is an enticing new challenge.
Said Rudnick: “I have the same feeling that I had 30-plus years ago when I stood over that crowd for the first time.”
MatzoBall will be at Vesper Sporting Club, 223 S. Sydenham St. in Philadelphia on Dec. 24. Doors open at 9 p.m. General admission is $30, and tables will be available from $500-$1,500.
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