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Coro-mance

Seeking to spread the love, Jewish Facebook dating group goes viral

Even a global pandemic can’t stop a love life, for as CoronaCrush says, ‘Don’t isolate… it’s time to iso-date’

Yaakov Schwartz is The Times of Israel's deputy Jewish World editor.

Screenshot detail of the CoronaCrush group icon. (Facebook)
Screenshot detail of the CoronaCrush group icon. (Facebook)

Dating as a Jewish single can be tough in the best of times – but in a (tfu tfu tfu short-lived) period of social isolation due to the coronavirus outbreak, meeting Ms. or Mr. Right can seem downright impossible.

Fortunately, creative loopholes are a Jewish specialty. Following the online migration of Torah classes, Shabbat candle lighting, and even prayer, comes a virtual matchmaking solution to satisfy both singles and Health Ministry officials. CoronaCrush – Creating Jewish Couples in Quarantine, is a new private Facebook group that makes the most of a tough situation by humorously encouraging members to put themselves, or a friend, out there. As the group page says, “Don’t isolate… it’s time to iso-date.”

After posting photos and a short description of the eligible bachelor or bachelorette, members can sit back and wait for the private messages to roll in. If there’s a connection, they can then schedule a date via Zoom, the highly-popular video chat platform that’s taken off since social distancing guidelines have been put into effect worldwide.

Just over a week following its creation, CoronaCrush has collected over 3,400 members and generated countless posts, with hundreds of new requests from people to join each day.

The group was the collective brainchild of six friends living in Tel Aviv and New York City. Distance, it goes without saying, was not a deterring factor.

Clockwise from top left: CoronaCrush founders Ian Mark, Ben Lang, Bracha Rappaport, Nicky Hakimi, Bracha Katsoff, and Josh Benjamin on a Zoom meeting. (Courtesy)

“We were hanging out on Zoom, as people do these days, and we came across various different groups centered around socializing and thought it might be neat to do something about dating in a more virtual format,” said Ben Lang, 26, one of the group’s cofounders currently living in Tel Aviv.

“We put together this Facebook group, invited a couple friends, and just asked people to start posting introductions,” he said. “People really seem to like it. There’s a lot of engagement from Israel, New York, the West Coast, France, London – it’s pretty global.”

“For us, if even two people come out of this in a serious capacity I think it’ll be a success, given that it was just started for fun,” Lang said.

Following the administrators’ lead, members haven’t let the situation dampen their spirits, and posts tend to be creative and often humorous. Many friends and relatives take the opportunity to roast their loved ones, even as they advertise on their behalf. After one lucky lady caught his eye, one user filmed a satirical video showing the best (and worst) of himself in an attempt to woo her. “A modern day Romeo,” she responded in the comments section.

Lang said the group is a mix of people from different ages, backgrounds, locations, levels of observance – though because CoronaCrush is usually recommended through word of mouth, most of the members naturally fall between the ages of 24 and 34.

“A lot of people are lonelier than usual, and not knowing how long this will last, I think there’s definitely a need for different ways for people to connect,” Lang said. “I feel like I’m already starting to forget what it’s like to hang out in real life – literally everything I was doing before, I’m doing now on Zoom.”

Literally everything I was doing before, I’m doing now on Zoom

While Lang, who works for a startup, says he’s not yet gone on any Zoom dates, other founding members have – though he’s not sure if the dates have panned out.

As for other success stories, “We know of a couple who went on a Zoom date and then went on two more,” Lang said. “Given that it’s only been around a week, I think that’s pretty solid.”

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