The rise of interfaith marriage is a sensitive issue among American Jews, and now two powerful forces in the religion are teaming up to do something about it: rabbis and JDate, the top matchmaking Web site for Jewish singles.
For the first time in its 10-year history, the site is offering a bulk rate to rabbis who want to buy membership accounts for congregants. According to Gail Laguna, JDate's vice president of communications, singles who sign up through their congregation get a slight discount on the site's $149 six-month subscription fee.
"This is a way for us to break down the walls of the synagogue," said Rabbi Michael Cahana, of Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, Ore.
The rabbis who negotiated the rate are also picking up the tab. Rabbi Donald Weber of Temple Rodeph Torah in Marlboro, N.J., has paid out of his own pocket for 24 six-month subscriptions. Cahana and Rabbi Kenneth Emert of Temple Beth Rishon in Wyckoff, N.J., who purchased a dozen three-month memberships, anted up using money from their synagogues' discretionary budget.
"When I heard that another rabbi was putting his money where his mouth is, I did too," says Emert, whose offer includes one stipulation: "No mothers, no grandmothers." Singles, in other words, have to sign up themselves.