Safe love

Jewish singles over 60 sought for Zoom speed dates

Matchmaking Facebook group CoronaCrush wants to find matches for older, isolated people stuck at home during the pandemic

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

A screen shot of the private CoronaCrush Facebook group that was founded in March 2020 and currently numbers 17,700 members (Courtesy CoronaCrush screen grab)
A screen shot of the private CoronaCrush Facebook group that was founded in March 2020 and currently numbers 17,700 members (Courtesy CoronaCrush screen grab)

If you’re over 60, Jewish and single, CoronaCrush Speed Dating is looking for you.

CoronaCrush – creating Jewish couples in quarantine, a private Facebook group for Jewish singles seeking love, was founded at the start of the coronavirus and now numbers 17,700 members who post their profiles, seek out and private message one another. They can also schedule a date via Zoom and take part in Zoom speed-dating sessions.

While many of the 17,000 members are in their 20s and 30s, there are middle-aged and older seekers on the site as well, and sometimes grandparents and their grandchildren, all looking for a match.

“I like having different demographics, it creates a networking effect,” said co-founder Ian Mark, 31, a self-taught programmer who created CoronaCrush with a group of five friends last spring. “Someone posts something about their grandmother, and then their grandmother knows someone for someone else.”

It was a friend of Mark’s, David Feldman, 27, who pointed out that older singles are having an even harder time during the coronavirus period.

“They’re even more lonely, they’re isolated, and it’s already hard to be dating, even more so now that they’re stuck at home and not going out,” said Feldman, who counts several single sixtysomething-year-olds in his own circle of family and friends. “Speed dating works because you have a quick conversation with someone and you can know pretty quickly if you want to speak to them again. It seems like a good solution for a crappy time.”

The CoronaCrush 60-plus group is being formed only for the speed-dating event, although they’re currently having trouble finding as many men as the number of women who have already signed up.

“It’s strange, it’s just a totally different ratio than other speed dating events,” said Mark. “We’ll wait to hold it until we have equal numbers.”

A self-taught programmer, Mark began developing the speed dating platform for CoronaCrush over the last six months.

He’s advanced it from a simple Zoom link to a smart web platform with an algorithm that utilizes forms filled out by the users, and based on the ages, interests, locations and level of religious observance, creates the speed dating schedule, which includes seven rounds in one Zoom event.

CoronaCrush has led to two engagements so far, and received donations from abroad that Mark has used for some marketing and a paid, in-house matchmaker.

Mark, who has his own consulting firm that helps start-ups hire employees for customer service, isn’t earning any income from this non-profit project that has also partnered with other non-profits worldwide to hold speed dating events.

As for the profiles of the 17,000-plus friends of CoronaCrush, they must be Jewish and are vetted by Mark, who makes sure they’re connected either to him or at least one of the members.

“They have to be serious about dating and genuinely want to meet somebody,” said Mark. “We’re trying to keep it as much of a community as possible.”

If you’re interested in participating in CoronaCrush Speed Dating for the over-60 crowd, fill out this form.

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