Chasia, 27, is seeking “a bright mensch with genuine simchas
ha-chaim, enthusiasm for yiddishkeit and learning, and Yeshivish-style
Melech Tvi, 28, wants a woman who is “ warm and fun loving with a zest
for life, a love of Yiddushkite, and has a desire to grow spiritually
down life’s path with me.”
Forget your Internet stereotypes about steamy, anonymous hookups. Forget
the photos of scantily clad babes. Unless you have a fetish for
Yiddishisms, yarmulkes and detailed descriptions of religious
observance, you’ll find the thousands of profiles on Frumster.com to be,
With more Orthodox Jews believed to be unmarried than at any other time
in history, according to experts — and decreasing opportunities out
there for observant singles to socialize in person with the opposite sex
— growing numbers are turning to the Internet for help finding a soul
Even those from the fervently Orthodox end of the spectrum, where
leaders tend to frown on Internet use for anything other than business,
are surfing en route to the chupah.
Challenging Frumster, another site — SawYouAtSinai — recently ventured
into the market. Both sites see themselves as the marriage-minded,
observant Jew’s alternative to the immensely profitable Web giant Jdate.
Currently both are free, but they plan to charge in the near future.
Frumster, founded in December 2001 by Canadian-born Israeli Grayson Levy
(who recently sold the site to Orthodox investors), has 9,900 active
users around the world, approximately 80 percent in the United States.
The site offers users the chance to search by age, geographic location
and “hashkafa.” The choices: “modern Orthodox-liberal,” “modern
Orthodox-machmir,” “yeshivish-black hat,” “Carlebachian” and
In addition to posting personality traits and smoking habits, each
Frumster male also lists how often he prays and studies Torah and what
kind of yarmulke he wears, and each woman lists whether she wears skirts
exclusively and intends to cover her hair after she marries.
Frumster officials insist the site is under rabbinic supervision and is
heavily screened to ensure that profiles are truthful and everyone is
actually Orthodox, but they are somewhat mysterious about the details of
Derek Saker, the site’s director of marketing, said he cannot disclose
the site’s screening techniques and will not reveal the rabbi’s identity
other than to say he is a “YU type” and “more to the right.”
Channie Braun Michanik, 27, of Cherry Hill, N.J., is one of 196 people
who met her spouse on Frumster. She credits the process with being
“private, modest” and enabling her and her future husband to “do things
on our own terms.”
However, she insists that one
should be sure to “check references” before setting up a face-to-face
Michanik’s husband, Tzvi, also 27, said he was reluctant initially to
try Internet dating, seeing it as “the latest fad.” But he ultimately
decided “it empowers people who did not feel they were attaining success
through the traditional shidduch method.”
With its novel approach, the rapidly growing SawYouAtSinai hopes to
avoid some of the perils of Web dating. Launched in November, the site
is the brainchild of management consultant and entrepreneur Marc
Goldmann, a single Orthodox Jew.
Goldmann, 35, was impressed by the large pool of Internet dating sites
offered, but he was reluctant to post his profile for all the world to
see and leery of managing e-mail contacts with people who could be
lying. SawYouAtSinai, which is open to Conservative as well as Orthodox
Jews, aims to be a discreet and more personalized alternative. Users
must meet with a matchmaker and provide references; the matchmakers then
select appropriate profiles for them to view.
Goldmann likens the approach to having an “agent,” and many of the 74
matchmakers currently working with the site say it has revolutionized
their trade by expanding the pool of potential matches and substantially
reducing their administrative burden.
However, users have to limit their contacts to people the matchmaker selects.
Frumster and SawYouAtSinai officials insist that the market is large enough for both.
“Orthodox singles who really want to get married will choose a variety
of vehicles if they see potential in them,” said Frumster’s Saker, who
estimates that there may be as many as 80,000 Orthodox singles
While SawYouAtSinai is “a great idea,” Saker said that “for people
frustrated with the shadchan system it doesn’t provide an answer. Our
site lets people be selective themselves and make the judgment
Unlike Frumster, SawYouAtSinai is too new to have spurred marriages, but
it already has 2,100 users and takes the credit for three engagements.
And the site also appears to have provided good luck to founder
Goldmann: He started dating his current girlfriend the day he decided to
start the company.