“Zoom with Whom?” events, which became very popular during the peak of the pandemic, allow for a small group of singles to meet virtually in a fun way. YUConnects staff sorted through applicants to match their ages and hashkafah, and then grouped them into four Zoom rooms with about five women and five men in each. A facilitator joined every Zoom room, encouraging discussion among the participants about various topics and leading ice breakers. “Zoom with Whom?” has drawn more than 600 singles since it was first launched.
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The goal of any singles event is to grab every opportunity to set people up. It’s hard even in person, since organizers can’t always pick up on the energy between two people in a crowd, or they have to track them down after an event. For Zoom room dating, we launched a tracking system that makes it easy for participants to notify the moderators when they are interested in someone. The moderators can follow up right away, getting the shidduch moving forward without losing opportunities. As a result, we now see a lot of couples dating, and three have already gotten engaged. —Marc Goldmann
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Zoom leveled the playing field. No one could say there was a shortage of men when we had even numbers in the Zoom rooms. It also broke down some of the walls of frum dating, introducing people who might never have met if left solely to the details on their resumes. —Lisa Elefant
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Keeping things interesting takes creativity. Couples ordered takeout meals and “ate together” while speaking on Zoom, simulating a restaurant outing. Others took online courses together to learn a new language, did a remote tour of the Great Wall of China, or participated in Virtual Escape rooms. As restrictions eased (but with museums and other major indoor venues remaining closed), we heard about dating couples having scavenger hunts in Target or working on tie-dye projects outdoors. Some even donated plasma together. —Marjorie Glatt
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Chana clicked with Meir when they met in a Zoom room one month into the Covid lockdown and they dated for a while online. Because she is from Canada and he lives in the States, they were first able to meet in person only after restrictions eased. Chana has now been traveling to the US (Canada remains closed to Americans), and quarantining the required fourteen days each time she returns home. Since Covid-era dating has slowed their months’ long relationship, they have had to be really committed to one another to make it work.
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After the “Zoom with Whom?” sessions ended, we had an astounding 60 percent match rate of participants interested in pursuing a date with someone they met in the Zoom. Though we have temporarily suspended the “Zoom with Whom” program to focus on other programming, we intend to offer the sessions again.
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Tips for the Ultimate Zoom Date
1. Make sure you are in a location with good WiFi
2. Turn phone notifications off—give your date your full attention!
3. No gum chewing!
From the Adopt a Shadchan’s Instagram
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Mask or No Mask:
The “to-wear-a-mask-or-not” debate has become the central focus of my dating life. I dated one guy who refused to wear a mask while walking through a restaurant, violating the restaurant’s policy, because wearing a mask goes against his political beliefs. So now, when I check into a guy, I ask about hashkafah, personality and whether or not he wears a mask.
—Rachel Leff, twenty-something
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Where Have the Singles Gone?
I live in Washington Heights, a popular singles neighborhood in New York. In late March and early April, many of the singles in the neighborhood went back home to avoid being alone for Pesach. Over the summer, many were able to return, but not all. I have three friends, all originally from out of town, who had to give up their apartment in the Heights because they were unemployed due to the pandemic and could not afford to go back to the city. They all look forward to moving back to the Heights again. One commented, “Unless I get married in the interim, I’m heading back to New York.”
Finding roommates this summer was also slimmer pickings. With the student population mostly online for the start of the semester, the need to live closer to campus was eliminated. And for those normally coming in from out of town, I think there was some reticence to go to a metropolitan area that, while doing much better, was an epicenter of the virus.