A new Jewish dating app combines the best of old-world matchmaking and technology.
Yente’s matchmaking may be a thing of the past, but Marc Goldmann is keeping the idea in mind to catch JBolt users the perfect catch.
With virtual shadchans leading to real-life shidduchs in mind, Goldmann founded the dating app JBolt in 2014, with its official launch just two and a half months ago. Nearly 6,000 users have already signed up since June, which Goldmann said is a “drop in the bucket” of what he thinks it will reach.
JBolt employs the same swiping practice as apps like Tinder and JSwipe, which allow the user to swipe left if they are not interested or right if they are and is based solely on the other person’s appearance; however, the similarities end there.
JBolt is for users looking for something beyond just a hookup, which is the intent of other sites, Goldmann said.
“Our purpose is more for finding compatibility from a dating — and, hopefully, long-term — perspective,” he said. “No one’s engaged yet, but it’s early.”
The user profiles detail 30 areas of background information to get a “flavor” of the person, from the typical age, hometown and education to whether or not he or she keeps kosher, religious background and questions about his or her lifestyle.
And then, a third person enters the mix as these Jewish singles look for their next partner: a matchmaker who, after the singles mutually express interest in each other, looks over the 30 data points the users entered and decides whether it seems like it would be a good fit.
While he admits he is a “very poor” matchmaker himself, Goldmann also founded SawYouAtSinai.com, an online dating service using about 450 matchmakers, so he is familiar with the territory — and it has given him reason to believe that it works.
The numbers back up that claim, with 2,500 marriages in the 10 years the site has been running.
While SawYouAtSinai will remain in operation, the app is different because it appeals to a new generation of singles — ones who have their smartphones attached to their hands.
“This was an opportunity to appeal to a new audience that probably would have never used a matchmaker,” he said.
The target demographic JBolt seems to appeal to falls between early 20s to upper 30s, Goldmann said.
College-age users typically seen on other apps are not usually interested, which makes sense to Goldmann. They aren’t looking for marriage yet, he said, adding he would be shocked if that became a popular age group.
According to Goldmann, the goal for the 30 matchmakers on JBolt, many of whom also work for SawYouAtSinai, is to control the flow — they don’t want to overwhelm the singles as they will probably receive multiple potential matches each time but which may not all be the right fit.
The presence of that third figure changes the nature of the experience and highlights the real intention: finding a long-term partner.
“Having a matchmaker involved in the process already discourages more people in it for the hookup,” Goldmann said. An app intended just for finding a hookup wouldn’t use a third person, he added. “That would be awkward for everyone involved.”
The matchmakers work from the United States, Israel, even Australia, and many have their own businesses as well. Some are from right here in Philadelphia. Lori Salkin, from Merion Station, has been in the matchmaking business seven years.
A head matchmaker on SawYouAtSinai, Salkin first got into the matchmaking business after setting up friends in college.
“There’s something really special about helping someone find true love,” she said of why she got into the business. “Everyone needs companionship.”
For Salkin, matchmaking is a very personal undertaking. She has become friends with many of the singles she works with and takes finding them their special someone to heart.
She has also started her own private coaching business on the side, helping clients get ready for all the trappings that come with dating — etiquette, helping them figure out what to talk about — she even helps people choose their outfits if they need.
She is able to work this way because of how smartphones have changed the dating game. This is especially important for JBolt, she said.
Being able to text Salkin or send her pictures of outfit choices has changed how people look at dating, and how they look at matchmakers.
“I hope that JBolt will broaden our reach and make people feel more comfortable participating in a matchmaking process,” she said. “The stigma still exists as far as online dating and matchmaking. To have a matchmaker who’s gonna text you — that makes it so much cooler.”
When two singles on the app express mutual interest, Salkin and the other matchmakers receive a notification and are able to look at all of the data points about the users — extending beyond the 30 that show up to the other user — to determine whether it would be a good match or not.
The matchmakers can be involved as much or as little as the users want, Goldmann said.
They do require some initial contact, usually by phone, to ensure that there is communication between the singles within three days — and that usually falls on “tradition” and putting it on the guy to make the first move.
“It doesn’t mean the girl can’t make the call,” he clarified. “I guess we’re a little traditional. Chivalry will go ahead and remain in that situation.”
Salkin said she follows through, making sure one person called the other, and seeing how the date went. From there, her involvement is up to the users.
“If they want to take over from there, I let them take over and call every so often. Some people want me every step of the way,” she said.
Salkin has one piece of advice: Give chances.
“You can never know and you have to give chances. You should only be going on a date for you, not because your mother or grandmother wants you to go on a date,” she said.
“I know there’s one person out there for everybody, and I won’t stop until we find them. I really want to help everybody find their match.” l
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