Apps like Tinder have redefined the way couples hook up, either for short-term fun or long-term relations. Jewish millennials are part of the Tinder generation, so to help them meet Jewish mates, Joe Shapira, the creator of legendary Jewish dating site JDate, developed a new app called Jfiix, which he hopes will help keep more Jews in the fold.
“I see it as a place for young Jews to meet other young Jews,” Shapira told The Times of Israel. “Of course we don’t police the user base, so it is possible that some of the users may be non-Jews – about 10%, by our estimate. But we market to Jewish users, and encourage Jews to bring their friends in – so we are pretty confident that the average user will most likely end up meeting a Jewish mate.”
Jfiix has been in use among Israelis for about two years and has some 250,000 users here, and about three months ago an English-language version for use by American Jews was released as well.
“We now have about 40,000 users in the US, and recently celebrated our hundred millionth message on the platform,” said Shapira. “Both those figures are growing daily.”
Shapira has been in the Jewish – and general – dating business for a long time. In 1996 he developed JDate with partner Alon Carmel, running the company until he left in 2006. In 2012, he established Jfiix, the modern millennial take on Jewish dating.
“JDate was fine for Generation X, but the 20-somethings today are looking for a more mobile-oriented experience – hence the overwhelming popularity of Tinder and its imitators. We wanted to develop a Jewish dating app that would appeal to that age group as well.”
Like Tinder, Jfiix offers location-based discovery of members, a chat function, the ability to upload photos, right/left swiping for people users want to see more of, a random “like” button for app suggestions of good matches, etc.
Unlike Tinder, the Jfiix environment is monitored; no nude pictures allowed, and if aggressive or abusive content is detected in a user’s profile (the staff does not monitor content, but “we have technology that can tell us if someone is being abusive,” said Shapira), that user is warned once – with a booting to follow if s/he does not take heed.
Because it has a different orientation, the criteria for success in Jfiix is different than it is for Tinder. If the latter’s most important metric are number of swipes and number of hookups, Jfiix’s is much more traditional: the number of engagements and weddings, 20 of which have so far come about as a result of Jfiix matches, said Shapira.
But millennials aren’t all marriage-oriented. “The app has only been out there for a couple of years, and millennials tend to get married later, so it’s still early to gauge success based on weddings. Right now, our success is in attracting so many Jewish kids to the app altogether.”
Which Shapira sees as a major accomplishment in and of itself, given the casual morés and increasing lack of religious commitment among young people these days – Jews among them.
“There are hundreds of thousands of young Jews on Tinder, and some of them look specifically for Jews, while others don’t,” said Shapira. “But few people would turn to Tinder when they are looking for someone for a lifelong commitment – it’s just not that kind of app. We have found that when it comes to looking for a wife or husband, even highly assimilated Jews prefer to ‘keep it in the family,’ meaning that if finding a Jewish mate is as easy as finding a non-Jewish one, they will prefer to search through a Jewish pool of candidates first. That’s what we hope to provide.”