Dating Apps Offer Options for Lovelorn Jews

Shira and Yossi Teichman
Shira and Yossi Teichman, founders of the newly launched Jewish dating app Forj. (Courtesy of Shira and Yossi Teichman)

The universe of Jewish dating apps is expanding, as popular dating apps are including more options for Jewish users — and new apps specifically for Jewish consumers are hitting the market.

In reviewing a handful of the most popular apps, we talked to users who based their assessments on how well the app matches users with Jewish singles in the Philadelphia area. (If privacy is a concern, users should check the user agreement, which governs how a given company stores and shares personal data.)

JSwipe is dominating the Jewish dating app market. Users we spoke to give JSwipe an A rating, since it is free, easy to use and mimics the swipe culture popularized by the dating app Tinder. The filters include multiple options specifically for Jewish users, such as kosher and non-kosher, “how you describe your Jewish affiliation” and “your willingness to convert.”

“It’s a way you can really expedite meeting someone, compared to 20 years ago — it opens the world up to you,” said Jon Brouse, 39, a Jewish Realtor from Bala Cynwyd. “It’s a lot like real estate — sometimes the pictures of a home look nothing like the actual home.”

JSwipe is popular among Philadelphia users, mostly millennials, looking for serious commitments. Users are required to link their profile to a Facebook account, and to upload a photo and short biography.

“People should use recent pictures for their profile that accurately portray how they look, to avoid added anxiety when meeting a stranger for a first date,” said Shana Weiner, 31, an attorney from Philadelphia. She estimates close to 100 percent of her single Jewish friends are using JSwipe.

Users we spoke to give Bumble a B+ rating, since it is free and easy to use. Bumble is also part of the swipe culture, and also offers numerous filters, such as smoking preference, political affiliation and religion. Although Bumble is not specially a Jewish dating app, it is so popular that you can easily find Jewish matches in the Philadelphia area once you activate the Jewish religion filter. Users have the option to create a profile using their Facebook account or their phone number.

Users give OkCupid a B+, since you can add a Jewish filter when you search for matches that allows you to indicate how serious you are about your Jewish affiliation. Also, user profiles are detailed, and core features are free. New members must take a personality test and fill out personal information. You have the option to link your profile to your Facebook account, but it is not required.

Tinder is one of the most popular dating apps globally, but users we spoke to only gave it a C rating, since there is no option to create a Jewish filter when you search. Some users place a Star of David emoji with their profile to indicate they are Jewish. Users can register with a Facebook account, mobile number or email address. Limited features are free.

Several Jewish dating apps have recently hit the market, such as Mazel Match, JWed Match and Shlish Gan Eden. Although since each app has fewer than 5,000 downloads, it’s unlikely users will find a match in Philadelphia.

Meantime, Forj, which launched in November, is a dating app that “understands the values of Jewish singles and what is important to match them,” such as connection to family and community, CEO and co-founder Yossi Teichman said.

With 15,000 monthly users, the app has a nice local base, co-founder Shira Teichman said. She and her husband created the app for users seeking long-term relationships.

Users can register with a Facebook account or mobile number, and must upload a photo. The company created artificial intelligence software that authenticates the photo by verifying attributes such as age, location and gender.

Forj does not share any personal user information with third parties, said Teichman, although many dating apps do.

“Linking to your Facebook account can mean the app is sharing your data with Facebook, social networks or other third parties,” said Jordan Kovnot, a privacy and technology issues attorney at Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld LLC in Philadelphia.

There is no specific law in the United States governing what an app can do with the personal data of its users. The agreement between the user and the platform states what the app company is able do and is a binding contract, Kovnot explained.

The California Consumer Privacy Act, which gives limited consumer privacy rights, will go into effect next year. Under the act, a user can, for example, opt out of having their personal data sold.

“Tech companies will not be able to comply with multiple sets of requirements, so as more states enact legislation, it will be an incentive for the federal government to step in and unify the regulations,” Kovnot said.

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