Thursday, December 30, 2004


This one,, is for people with a passion for adventure and outdoor sports. Personally, I'm waiting for


You all know I complain a lot about JDate. It almost seems that I wouldn't be a single woman if I didn't. But it's not peer pressure, or the desire to get along with my singleton peers, that drives my dissatisfaction. It's because of a basic fact about JDate. They're in it for the money, and don't care about customer service. In any other business scenario, this would spell disaster. But they've got the brand working for them. Even if the most frequent online incidence of the word "JDate" is inevitably followed by someone's account of how horrible their experience is, brandwise, they're the preeminent Jewish dating service, referenced on The West Wing, relentlessly in Jewtopia, and in any other number of pop culture contexts. Despite the dissatisfaction of many members, who keep quitting and rejoining because they think they have no choice, the number of "members online" seems to keep growing. Many have speculated about this, and I think the reason is clear. Even if you quit a thousand times over, your profile remains active. It is sent to people in "Your Matches" emails even if you quit JDate, met someone elsewhere, married and have a few kids. If you have not specifically requested the removal of your profile, as far as JDate is concerned, you're still available. Now, many of us have suspected that, despite their poorly named Customer Care Department, no one over there seems to care about us, the multitude of customers who enable JDate to exist. Feeling ignored is something we all experience. But now, my correspondence with them proves it. First, that initial letter I sent them (and their completely unacceptable response). Then, there was another letter, that I wrote as a member of the press who was thinking about giving them some publicity, that received an auto-response. Never, never send a member of the press an auto-response. (And I didn't even go to business school.) And now, there's this--my newest letter, followed by their response. I'm uncharacteristically terse because they limit me to 150 words (as if I could sum up what's wrong with them in 150 words, without using the word fackockta): 12/28/2004 From: Esther's Profile Name Reason: General question or suggestion There's no one option why I'm canceling: JDate is frustrating and ineffective. Your computer-generated customer service responses are inadequate. You delete words from people's profiles that changes the meaning and sound of their original essays. You should focus on customer service, on actually responding to people's queries. If this message gets an auto-response like all the other ones, I'm showing all my friends how you "value" your customers. Ok, can't say I didn't warn them. Here's their response to my concerns, and my comments in brackets. From: JD Comments Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2004 3:44 Subject: Re: General question or suggestion Dear Member, To change how often you receive "Your Matches" emails and other informational communications from us, go to Member Services and click "Off-site email alerts and settings." There, you will see a list of options to choose from. [Um, guys? I know how to do this. I'm NOT an idiot. That's not what I asked.] If you would like to stop the automatic renewal of your Premium Membership, go to "Cancel Your Premium Membership" in Member Services. This will stop any future billing yet allow you to enjoy all subscriber benefits through the remainder of your paid term. Your profile will also stay on the website for free for as long as you wish. * [I've already done this, Brainiacs. Then a screen popped up asking me why I'm quitting, and none of the reasons quite fit. That's why I'm contacting you. And by the way, I'm gone as of January 23.] If you want to remove your profile and stop getting email from us, just login and go to "Remove Your Profile" in Member Services. [Of course, you know I can't do that. If I'm Jewish and single, I have to stay out there. And part of being out there, unfortunately, is having a JDate profile. This sucks, man.] We hope that you have been enjoying the website and meeting some wonderful people. [Um, I'm gonna go with no, I haven't. What I have found out is that on the whole, Jewish men either come on too strong, or they're total wusses. Or maybe they're just not that into me. And while we're at it, I'd like to note my resentment of one of the "reasons for quitting" that you list: "I'm giving up on finding a soulmate." Why would you do that? It's like "Ok, leave if you want to, but know that if you give up, you'll be alone forever." You suck, JDate. There, I said it.] Customer -- the best place on the Internet to meet quality singles and find your perfect match [Umm, no--it obviously isn't.] Let's recap what I asked for, and how many of my complaints they addressed. And let's see which of my readers can discern the intricate mathematical pattern:
  • JDate is frustrating and ineffective. This is where they should have said, I'm sorry that you're finding our system frustrating, but here's who to call, or what to do...NOT ADDRESSED
  • Your computer-generated customer service responses are inadequate. NOT ADDRESSED
  • You delete words from people's profiles that changes the meaning and sound of their original essays. COMPLETELY NOT ADDRESSED
  • You should focus on customer service, on actually responding to people's queries. HMM. NOT ADDRESSED
  • If this message gets an auto-response like all the other ones, I'm showing all my friends how you "value" your customers. ADDRESSED, BUT BY ME, IN THIS POST.
I swear my blood pressure just jumped. Maybe I'll do some nice, calming work to even out my keel. If anyone has horrid tales, or better yet, good experiences about JDate's response to customers to relate, let me know. I'm hoping that their responses to me constitute a response anomaly. But somehow, realistically, I don't think it is... *On the previous "An Answer" post, an Anonymous reader wrote: I wrote Jdate and asked them to inform those women [who wrote to me] that I cannot retrieve their messages or respond, but it doesn't look like they will do so. In a sense, they are damaging my reputation and in a way hardly consistent with traditional Jewish values. Morever, since I can't log on, I can't even delete my profile so that it doesn't continue to happen in the future. If they lock me out because I no longer subscribe that's fine, but then they should also remove my profile, rather than keep my face and profile up and count me as one of their available-to-meet members.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


If you're a liberal, who's lonely and wookin' pa nub in all the wong paces, you'll be thrilled to learn about this merger between two online dating services that are hoping you and a saucy Canadian number will make a merger of your own. The newly announced merger between the District-based, and its Canadian counterpart,, is designed to achieve "politically motivated matrimony" between "hot, sexy liberals" on both sides of the border and counter "four more years of cowboy conservatism" under Mr. Bush, MarryAnAmerican says on its Web site. According to the article, MarryAnAmerican says that it wants Americans in Canada to engage in "politically motivated matrimony". ActForLove has partnerships with influential groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), NARAL, and the Environmental Defense Fund--the article reports that although initial fees for the service are $25 for up to 25 contacts, singles who follow the ACLU's recommendation to fight the USA Patriot Act can get free credits with the dating service. I know most of you just come here for your singles-related news or hoping that I'll yell about a JDate experience, but I really think you've got to read this whole article. It's written in such a tone that you almost believe it's a joke. An example: MarryAnAmerican says, "While we don't necessarily advocate marrying strangers on the Internet, we're not opposed to the idea either, if the stranger is progressive and really hot." Because that's all anyone's really looking for.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


One December, in a city by a river, there was a tower with twinkly lights. Amidst the sparkle, a humble humor, a human romance brought further illumination to a City of Lights. On a cold night, you can't beat the romance of an engagement in Paris. As Ari said in her congratulatory comment, Deb and Alex "bring hope to the desert." Here's a prayer: to more hope, less desert. (And more dessert, if I get a third wish. But if only two wishes, then more hope and less desert.)


Anyone not get an adequate deluge of "He's Just Not That Into You" this week? Good news! Here's my latest column, "Just Not That Into" This Book... Enjoy, and comment away!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Got a degree? Then wants you to join their site: started with one goal in mind: to be the best meeting place for educated singles online. At, we believe education is one of the key ingredients of compatibility, and for some, the most important. Interests and lifestyles are greatly influenced by a person’s educational background, and we honor the hard work you’ve put in to better yourself. We’ve built an entire site around your achievements, because we believe you shouldn’t have to worry about the tedious process of seeking a match; your time should be spent considering the list of prospects that will lead you to a more fulfilling life. By the way, Degreedate's acceptable degrees include an Associate's Degree and a Bachelor's Degree. First two thousand people to register get free lifetime memberships!!

Sunday, December 19, 2004


In this story about, a man says that he was attracted to the woman he eventually married because "despite her gender and her hairless chin, the beauty with the faraway look reminded him of Rabbi Shnuer Zalman, the bearded founder of the Chabad Lubavich group. She 'was almost the exact feminine version,' he recalled. 'She was gazing off into space with this holy smile.' We can file this one under "There's a lid for every pot." So glad these two kids found each other.


In this week's issue of the Forward, comedian Catie Lazarus (and I wonder if that's a stage name) shares with you "her JDate Profile." Clearly, it's for laughs. I'm not really sure I understand all of the jokes in the earlier part of the piece, but if you wait for her self-description, you should get an out-loud laugh or two. On the whole, a resonant piece.


The dating phenom known as "He's Just Not That Into You" is finally engendering backlash: "This is killing me," says attorney George Cahill, 28, of the phenomenon surrounding the red-hot title, "He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys." Cahill recently went to dinner with a woman he had been dating for a few months and told her that due to a hectic work schedule, he wasn't looking for a serious relationship. "But I know that she's read the book, so I felt like a huge liar," he said. "Except that it's true! I am really busy at work!" I've got a column on this coming soon to a paper near you, but my two-sentence summary is here: Don't follow a mantra, people. Follow your hearts.

Friday, December 17, 2004


This, you gotta see. Of course, is responsible for the list, so consider the source... 1. Love trumps money. Apparently, women are less materialistic than ever!! Go us! 2. Seniors click with online dating. As anyone who's seen my "Members who have viewed your photo" folder can attest. 3. Farewell Sex and the City. Or, as Carrie said: "The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous." 4. Ladies first. Women are "more comfortable than ever at making the first move" in online dating. Um, that's because if we don't make the effort, we never hear from the boys. 5. Politics and dating. People began dating along party lines. Not that it helped. 6. The same-sex marriage debate ignites across the country. (This item has not increased romance in my own life, I'm just saying.) 7. War in Iraq. Huh? War is romantic? Um, no. But includes it anyway, noting the increase in internet activity to stay in touch with loved ones... 8. Online dating goes mainstream. 30 to 40 million people log on to internet dating sites each month. Although this is supposed to make me feel better, I find the numbers a little frustrating. That's a pretty good pool, and I seem to have forgotten my swimsuit. 9. HJNTIY. According to the list, this "empowers women to set the bar higher in a relationship or move on..." But I think it gives non-committal men with poor communications skills another excuse. I guess I'll found out for sure, now that I've got the book from someone extremely generous. 10. Single dads are sexy. So saith the Match. According to them, "Seventy-four percent of the single women on indicated that they are open to dating someone with children. " Their proof? Kevin Hill. Still, good news for certain aforementioned generous people. What? No entry for "Esther D. Kustanowitz founds JDaters Anonymous" or "Jewish Week Singles Column Breaks Subscription Records"? I was robbed, I tell ya...

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


The difference between JDate and Frumster. Discuss amongst yourselves...


Last weekend, Chayyei Sarah (J.A.’s single soul sister in Jerusalem) went to a singles weekend in Tiberias, Israel. It was an experience like no other, in which Our Heroine suffered untold singles-related slings and arrows, ducking social ineptitude and poorly-planned program elements like machine-gun fire. She survived—as heroines often do—heroically, living to blog (and blog and blog) another day (and another day and another day). As she relived the weekend for her readers, she understood that she needed support, and has asked for it:

The Shabbaton was . . . emotionally a lot . . . and while writing about it is helping me to "process," the interaction with other people out there helps a lot too. Even if you don't think you have something profound to say, please say something, even if it's just "nice post" or "this gave me something to think about" or "you have a typo." Writing about the Shabbaton is dredging up a lot of the feelings of isolation, and your feedback helps me to not feel like I'm blogging in a vacuum. As she reflected on the “Lost Weekend” (my title, not hers) she recalled the incidents in the order that they transpired. But because of the way blogs work, the newest posts are first, leading to disjointed reading. Her enterprising editor friend is pleased to present for your reading this chronological account of CS’s weekend, chapter by renamed chapter. Click to the link below each chapter title and make sure to share your comments with her, as well as with me. Feel her pain, for it is also ours. Chapter One: In which Our Heroine senses a mild disturbance in the Force Chapter Two: In which Our Heroine measures up the competition Chapter Three: In which Our Heroine discovers which Harry Potter character she would be Chapter Four: In which Our Heroine’s Friend has her chanukkiyah (Chanukah menorah) highjacked Chapter Five: In which Our Heroine resents an announcement Chapter Six: In which Our Heroine begins to feel depressed and tired Chapter Seven: In which dinner is served and people are rude Chapter Eight: In which Our Heroine has had enough and is still trapped for Shabbat Aside: In which Our Heroine bravely explores the subject of physical appearance and the subjectivity of attraction Chapter Eight: In which Our Heroine breathes again, which is a good thing, because she’s already named the previous chapter “Chapter 8” Chapter Nine: In which Our Heroine is flattered and confused by a man’s attention Chapter Ten: In which our Heroine meets Voldemort—oops, I mean Hairbun Chapter Eleven: In which Our Heroine does not declare bankruptcy and instead meets a Smug Unmarried American

Chapter Twelve: In which Our Heroine does battle with a donut interloper Chapter Thirteen: In which Our Heroine gets stuck in a conversational loop

Chapter Fourteen: In which Our Heroine stabs it with her steely knives, but she just can't kill the beast

Chapter Fifteen: In which Our Heroine seeks a prayer before eating Chapter Sixteen: in which Our Heroine depends upon the kindness of strangers

Chapter Seventeen: In which Our Heroine does some learning Chapter Eighteen: In which Our Heroine walks in Tiberias and through history Chapter Nineteen: In which lunch is served Chapter Twenty: In which Our Heroine receives an intriguing offer Chapter Twenty-One: In which Our Heroine wishes she knew more Sephardi customs Chapter Twenty-Two: In which a Cohen atones and Our Heroine prays for a soulmate Chapter Twenty-Two and a half: In which Our Plucky Heroine pitches her Azzam Azzam story and encounters journalistic snags but remains optimistic Chapter Twenty-Two Again: In which Our Heroine loses count of the chapters again but summarizes her experience with a valuable lesson Shabbaton Chronicles—Revolutions: In which Our Heroine reflects on her experience and makes some decisions THE END [???]

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Or at least that's what this site should be called. But instead, it's called Veiled Conceit. Their motto? A glimpse into that haven of superficial, pretentious, pseudo-aristocratic vanity: The NY Times' Wedding & Celebration Announcements Best post I've seen is this one, extrapolating an imagined Jdate-originating email correspondence between two people whose wedding was announced in the Sunday Times. Satire, irony, snark--come and get 'em. (Thanks to Bloghead for turning me on to this...)

Monday, December 13, 2004


And in today's installment of "Who are these guys and where do they come from?": In addition to the phenomenon noted by H in which everyone wants to be her friend, and on the heels of Chayyei Sarah's recap of the Singles Shabbaton from Hell (begin at this link and read up--she separates the posts by vignette), which is serialized over at least 13 parts, last I counted, we have this entry, from WritersBloc. She was ambushed with a blind date while at a party, and wackiness ensued (rendered in appalling green to indicate the single girl's queasiness when on a date with the wrong guy): The conversation veers to religion and my recent attempts at keeping kosher. “I’m just doing it to see how easy or hard it is. I’d like to try,” I explain. “Do you believe in God?” “I do. Why?” “Well, because I don’t.” “Believe in God?” “Right. You can’t prove to me that God exists. So since there’s no proof, I don’t believe in him.” “But you can’t disprove that he exists either.” “That’s not the point.” “Oh.” [beat] “Prove to me that God exists!” “What?” “Prove. To. Me. God’s existence. You believe in him, so prove to me he exists.” “You can’t prove faith,” I try “You just can’t. Faith is rooted deep inside. Your whole body just knows. It’s not about rational justifications. Faith is not rational.” “Well, I’m a very rational person so everything needs proof for me. For example, I just read two books by this Dutchman who proves that life was planted on Earth by aliens.” “Aliens? And he proves it?” “He does. After you read his two books, there will be no doubt in your mind that aliens planted life here.” ”I see.” ”You should check those books out.” ”I should.” And there is more. But I'll leave it to you to discover. And I leave you with this personal account: Esther's conversation with Blind Date Guy number 3,048, circa 1994: BDG: So what did you study in school? EDK: English. BDG: So, now you speak English. EDK: Um, yeah. But I also studied literature--fiction and poetry. I'm a writer. BDG: Oh. I always thought poetry was stupid. EDK: Well it's not. BDG: Well, I don't understand it, and I'm smart. I am a lawyer after all. EDK: I guess some people just don't get it. That's an understatement.


In this week's Jewish Journal, L.A. writer Jill Franklin calls for people to be sensitive to the private lives of both singles and new marrieds. But what she's really doing is calling for people to mind their own business and not impose their timelines on other people. Finally, a platform that makes sense; too bad it's fundamentally unimplementable in the Jewish community, where the culture seems to be centered on the invasion of privacy. An example from my youth: when my brothers and I got kvetchy (in those pre-blog days), my mother always used to tell us "Al Tanoodge." The Al is the negative imperative, "don't" which appears in the Ten Commandments in front of prohibitions against things like murder and adultery; tanoodge was my mother's own Hebraic/Decalogual construction of the nonexistent verb "to noodge"--the grammatical formulation indicated that it was not up for discussion: this was the Eleventh Commandment. But did we stop? No, we noodged--it's what kids do. When we became adults, we made efforts to resist this legacy of imposing your expectations on other people. As young adults in our twenties and thirties, I think my brothers and I are doing a great job of resisting the genetic predisposition. But I fully expect that when we move on to parenthood, the resistance will break down, and we'll succumb. As I've been single the longest, I fully expect to have the strongest resistance, but one day, I hope to have the opportunity to noodge my own daughter to get married. I know it will be because I want to see her happy, but I also know she won't see it that way. In the meantime, whether you're single or married, read Jill's article. And if you feel the primal urge, resist. Al Tanoodge. *To clear up any confusion, Al Tanoodge is not a town in Iraq. Just read on.


E-Dating Bubble Springs a Leak From Sunday's New York Times: While most women interviewed complained that too many men just "window shop" online and are unwilling to consider any but the prettiest faces, Zev Guttman, 28, a mortgage banker in Monsey, N.Y., said it was men who are at a disadvantage online: it is still typically the man who has to make the first move, and it is still the woman who gets to pick and choose. As a result, he said, he either had to lie — about, say, the fact that he is divorced — or face an empty mailbox every day. "If I write that I'm divorced, I don't have a chance of hooking up," he said. "If I write that I'm single, they're not interested because they think I lied to them" once they discover the truth. "I'm just going to go back to matchmaking, or friends," he said. JDaters Anonymous readers, weigh in: Would you rule out dating someone who is divorced? If you dated someone who said that s/he had never been married and then revealed that s/he was divorced, would you break up with him/her because s/he lied? Do you think men are more superficial than women (i.e., likely to reject a woman based solely on her looks)?

Sunday, December 12, 2004


So yes, that includes everyone. Run, don't walk, to see Chayyei Sarah's accounts of the singles weekend she went to over Shabbat. She discusses (in no fewer than eight parts, and there may be additional installments) step-by-step the misery of how she felt on this weekend, and brings up some difficult issues about the subjectivity of beauty and attraction. Feel her pain, and then tell her it's all going to be all right. It has to be. She's a wonderful, intelligent, attractive Jewish woman who's putting herself out there on a regular basis. If there's any justice, it will be all right. She'll find someone who will have been worth the wait. And they'll live happily ever after. If you know any frum, cool guys in Jerusalem, send them Chayyei Sarah's way, please. CS, JDaters Anonymous supports you.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Of course, I have to lead with octopus love. If you'd like to meet someone but don't know how or where, the internet can help: At inked a matchmaking deal with EHarmony. Forgive my cynicism, but if you ask me, this is like MTV partnering with the Smithsonian. Friendster is for people with an attention span of three seconds; and the EHarmony questionnaire is full of questions no one can understand and takes over an hour to fill out. Sounds perfect, right? This week, the Virtual Wingman hit Yahoo News (but if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know no one will give her a chance. Oprah’s Wednesday show (a repeat) featured the author of “He’s Just Not that Into You,” and made me determined to never waste time over boys who can’t get their acts together. Jewsweek reviews two books about sex and dating: She Comes First, and Single Jewish Female: Neither book presents a unified theory for Jewish sex. She Comes First isn't a Jewish book, but for what it is -- a guide to oral sex -- it's the better for it. SJF is unabashedly Jewish, but for all Furman's borscht-belt jokery, she makes it clear that a Jewish girl wants to marry a Jewish guy because she wants to send Jewish kids to Hebrew School -- not because she's looking for the kind of fiery action that only comes from a shared history of desert-wandering. Tis the season to be depressed and lonely? Not according to these two items from the internet: Here’s yet another Singles Season Survival Guide to avoid the purported loneliness of the Christmas season: And non-religious Jewish singles can meet their mates at “The Ball”. And finally, in Australia, a study reveals that it’s healthier to be married, and that “singles had higher levels of psychological disturbance and alcohol consumption”: I think that ties in with the lonely season article above. (We're trying, goshdarnit! Don't add pressure! Leave us the freak alone!) Wishing you all a happy holiday season!

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Forget the copepods in tap water, wigs made in India, ordination of women or gays, or whether a person’s political slant is a little more “blue” or “red.” These days, no matter what your denomination, there’s always someone who will find your practice unacceptable. On the singles circuit, religious deal-breakers abound: from taking the elevator to your Shabbat dinner on the 24th floor to observing prohibitions against women singing in public, it often seems that there are more reasons to be combative than there are to be compatible. My newest Jewish Week singles article is online for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Monday, December 06, 2004


The Bangor Daily News' Jessica Bloch share her experience being single for the holidays, and how to decrease the loneliness that often accompanies the season. (I personally blame New Year's Eve, which she doesn't specifically address, but I guess there's still time for that.)


The Rocky Mountain News provides this feature on how to survive the loneliness of the holiday season. (See, it's a theme today.) One of the people they interview is Rachel Greenwald, the author of Find a Husband After 35 - Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School. Those of you who have been paying close attention will remember her name and this title from my recap of the Washington 14 Conference in March. Although her advice isn't awful, I can't imagine following her suggestion: She advises singles to make lunch or coffee dates with six friends and ask for a gift: a blind date with someone they know. Call me crazy, but I'm not convinced that blind dates are a present. They're awkward, and seldom as fun as, say, TiVo, or health insurance. Plus, there's the whole tricky wrapping element. But despite my skepticism, I'm open. As the famous saying goes, "Never look a gift date in the mouth. Unless you're a dentist. Because then it's your job."

Saturday, December 04, 2004


If only The Jewish Week had printed the column I submitted this week, I could have looked like a trend-setting prophet. It was all about how people label themselves as Jews, especially within the online dating context, pointing out that some JDaters who opt to describe themselves as "Unaffiliated" are actually not even Jewish to begin with. But of course, my column was bumped due to advertising space needs and this small-town paper called the New York Times beat me to it. (Not to quibble over who's climbing on whose bandwagon here, but...) Apparently, those Jew-seeking daters are hoping to find a stereotypically nice Jewish girl or boy...and doing quite well for themselves. Don't we all wish we could say the same? The column should appear next week, when it will appear that I'm basing my article on the one that appeared in tomorrow's Times. You, gentle readers, will know the truth. (And thanks to the person who gave me the Anonymous tip on the article.)

Thursday, December 02, 2004


I do a lot of complaining about what men put in their JDate profiles. I'm harsh sometimes, but I don't name names, which I hope creates a learning experience for these poor gents. Equal time to the guys, now. Here's Todd with his list of 16 weird photo things women do in their JDate profiles. He points out how some of these items are indicators of red flags, like having no picture. I have to do this stuff too. But Todd knows that.