Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Publication; Boston Globe
For Jewish singles, it's the most wonderful time of the year
Rachel Davis summoned her klatch to Toscanini's in Central Square last week to help her make one of the most important decisions she will face this year -- what to wear to the Matzo Ball on Christmas Eve.
"If I wear the red cocktail dress with the spaghetti straps, I'll look hot," the 26-year-old paralegal said to her three buddies. "But I don't want to send the wrong message. It's a fine line between hot and tramp, you know?"
Davis confesses that she's feeling pressure to find just the right ensemble because Christmas Eve is perhaps the most important night of the year for the city's Jewish singles. While Boston's gentiles are tucked away with their eggnog, plastic Santas, and enough sugar cookies to feed the population of Luxembourg, something massive has happened in the clubs. Christmas Eve has evolved into Jewish Valentine's Day.
Boston can take credit for this national shift. Back in 1987, a young real estate agent named Andrew Rudnick decided he had enough of Chinese food and "It's a Wonderful Life" on Christmas Eve. He got in touch with nightlife impresarios John, Patrick, and Michael Lyons to see if he could use one of their Lansdowne Street clubs for a Christmas Eve mixer for Jewish singles.
"They were expecting about 200 or 300 people," says Rudnick, who moved from Boston to Florida two years ago. "They thought it was going to be a slow night. We had 2,000 that first night. The Lyons brothers had to leave their Christmas party and work. John was in the coat room, Patrick was with me walking the floor, and Michael was behind the bar."
The Matzo Ball quickly spread to other cities, and spawned more dances, concerts, and comedy shows for Jewish singles. With a little help from the burgeoning Jewish hipster movement, Christmas Eve parties have taken off. This year in Boston, Jewish singles will be making the scene at the Matzo Ball, two parties staged by an organization called JConnection (one at the Hard Rock Cafe for those in their 20s and 30s, and another in Waltham for singles 40 and up). There's even a speed- dating party for gay and lesbian Jews.
Next year, these events will face increased competition when a New York-based group called Let My People Go brings its Christmas Eve ball to Boston. Jeff Strank , the founder of Let My People Go, claims attendance at his New York ball is bigger than the Matzo Ball. Let My People Go holds parties at several venues in Manhattan, and offers complimentary Hummer limousine service so attendees can hop from party to party in VIP style.
"It has become a phenomenon," says Strank. "Some years there are as many as 15 events for Jewish singles happening in New York on Christmas Eve. And there are big parties in Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago. It's really the one night that you have more Jewish people out looking for romance than any other night of the year."
The answer to the question "Why, on this night, do we look for romance?" is as varied as the people who are throwing and attending these mixers. Sarah Maxwell , associate publisher of New York-based Heeb magazine, says the equation of open bars and "hot Heebs" will inevitably result in multiple love connections.
"None of us have to worry about hangovers the next day, because we don't have to face a big family dinner on Christmas day," she says. "We can just sleep in late and go to the movies the next day. If you have loads of young, single Jews in a room, it's inevitably going to result in romance, or at least a few fun, drunken hookups."
Mayshe Schwartz , a Brookline-based Orthodox rabbi who wears a baseball cap embroidered with Hebrew symbol chai (which means living) and answers to the nickname Schwartzy, thinks the advent of Christmas Eve as Jewish Valentine's Day has more to do with loneliness than the consumption of large quantities of booze.
"At some point, many Jews feel isolated at Christmas," he says. "There's a whole country celebrating something, and you can only run with it so far, then at some point, you can't. You don't have a Christmas tree, stores are closed, everything you're watching is 'Miracle on 34th Street.' It was only logical that these giant singles parties would evolve from this."
Schwartz, who runs the Chabad Chai Center in Brookline , regularly hosts parties and looks for ways to make religion accessible to singles and families who are not members of a temple. This time of year, he says the talk among the single members of his organization veers toward the big Christmas Eve parties. That was certainly the case among the singles who attended Chabad Chai's Kosher Casino party in the Theater District on Monday night.
"This will be my first one," says Debi Milkes, a 25-year-old teacher, of Sunday night's Matzo Ball. "I guess I'm hoping to meet someone. I've heard that the people who show up are usually a little more serious about dating."
Not everyone is a fan of big mixers such as the Matzo Ball. Rob Tannenbaum , music editor at Blender and half of the musical comedy act Good for the Jews , confesses that he's never been to the Matzo Ball, but quickly adds that "all the wild horses in Manhattan couldn't drag me there." He has, however, spent time on the Jewish online dating site JDate.com (and written a song about it), and imagines that the scene at the Matzo Ball is the off line counterpart to that.
"The idea of getting everyone on JDate piled together in a room, drunk on $13 cosmopolitans, with 20-year-old Madonna songs blasting at 120 decibels, isn't really my idea of a fun night," Tannenbaum says. "I can understand the impulse. Being a Jew on Christmas Eve is really kind of horrible."
Tannenbaum, whose band played in Boston last week, is part of a generation of younger Jews who are looking to create new traditions.
"Most Jewish traditions involve fasting, and that's no fun," says the cheeky Tannenbaum. "The new traditions involve some element of music, comedy, and sometimes even alcohol."
Molly Harris' s Christmas Eve tradition involves going to the JConnection's annual party. The 29-year-old dental hygienist has gone on dates with men whom she has met at the party, but unlike Tannenbaum, she takes a less cynical approach to looking for love on Christmas Eve.
"I'm basically there to hang out with my friends and have a good time," she says. "If you take it too seriously, it's going to be stressful. I see Christmas Eve as a bonus holiday. It's like the rest of the world is off doing their own thing, so we get this night to party, and who doesn't love that?"
Saturday, December 24, 2005
19th year for annual matzo ball Jewish singles events in New York, Boston, Boca Raton, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington
MONDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2005 - The Matzo Ball, the nation’s number 1 holiday party, expects record attendance of over 10,000 at Jewish singles events at 8:00pm on December 24th in New York, Boca Raton, Miami, Boston, Washington and Philadelphia. Advance tickets are just $25 and are available at www.matzoball.org or by calling toll-free 888-633-5326.
“The Matzo Ball parties have sparked over 1,000 marriages, including my own!” explained Andrew Rudnick, Founder of the matzo ball party. “We created the Matzo ball to give Jewish singles a positive environment to meet other Jewish singles and Jewish professionals. I met my beautiful wife at a Matzo Ball and we have facilitated thousands of marriages, happy relationships and friendships thus far.”
AOL City Guide Editor Melanie Miller described the Matzo Ball this way: “Held every year on Christmas Eve, the Matzo Ball is known universally as the number one Jewish singles event in the nation. Since Christmas and Hanukkah even fall on the same day this year, the Ball promises to be bigger than ever…this event is specifically geared for the singles, dress to impress and be prepared to get your flirt on as you meet some of the hundreds who flock to this regularly sold-out night.”
Many single Jewish women and single Jewish men have found love at the Matzo ball:
“Just wanted to let you know that thanks to the Matzo Ball, I am engaged! Some friends and I went to the Matzo Ball, where I met this really cool guy. We've been dating ever since and now we're engaged! We'll be married some time after this year’s Matzo Ball - Thanks for throwing a great party!” Amy from Brookline.
“I would just like to mention that Jessica and I met at the Matzo Ball, and we are getting married this January. We would like to thank you for having such a wonderful event. We are glad to be one of the success stories that you read about.” Jonathan Grotsky.
In the past Jewish singles had little to do on Christmas Eve as many traditional clubs and restaurants were closed. The Matzo Ball party was founded by the Society of Young Jewish Professionals (SYJP). SYJP is the nation's largest and most successful membership organization for Jewish singles ages 18-49. The matzo ball parties feature hundreds of young, like minded Jewish singles dressed up and ready to party free hors d’oeuvres, a fashionable, fun loving crowd, cocktails and drink specials.
The official matzo ball Jewish singles events will take place in New York at the New York, NY @ Capitale, in Boca Raton, FL at Club Boca, in Miami, Florida at Opium Garden, in Boston, MA at Avalon, in Washington DC at Lulu's Mardi Gras and in Philadelphia, PA at Glam. Advance tickets are available online at www.matzoball.org or by calling toll-free 888-633-5326, tickets are just $25, the Boca Raton matzo ball and the Boston matzo ball are for Jewish singles ages 18 and above, the New York matzo ball the Miami matzo ball, the Philadelphia matzo ball and the Washington matzo ball are jewish singles events for those age 21 and above.
About the Matzo Ball® Party
Matzo Ball® Party is a project of the Society of Young Jewish Professionals (SYJP). Now in its 19th year, SYJP is the nation's largest and most successful membership organization for Jewish professionals, ages 18-49. SYJP offers single jewish men and single jewish women the opportunity to meet in an environment conducive to developing networking opportunities, long lasting friendships, and romantic relationships. We have sparked over 1,000 marriages and thousands of friendships thus far.
The Matzo Ball is often misspelled as matzoh ball, matzoball, matza ball, matzos ball, matzoh ball, matzaball, and was formerly known as the jdate matzo ball. Regardless of how you spell it, the official matzo ball event for jewish singles will take place in New York at the New York, NY at Capitale, in Boca Raton, FL ay Club Boca, in Miami, Florida at Opium Garden, in Boston, MA at Avalon, in Washington DC at Lulu's Mardi Gras and in Philadelphia, PA at Glam.
SYJP, founded in 1987, is the brainchild of one man's longing to bring the Jewish people together, and find a nice Jewish girl along the way! Throughout the years, SYJP has opened a whole new dimension in meeting singles, and uniting the Jewish community. Originating from one holiday party, the Matzo Ball®, SYJP has since grown into monthly events and a dating service for Jewish singles.
Media Contacts: Andrew Rudnick, Matzo Ball, 561-400-7500, firstname.lastname@example.org Jay Berkowitz, www.TenGoldenRules.com, 561-716-1334
Monday, April 26, 2004
by Stephen Heyman
BOCA RATON — It was livelier than a Purim party at Brandeis, sexier than a hormonally charged bar mitzvah bash and more frenzied than a rabid matzo hunt.
Take away the drinking, smoking and indulgences and it would make a Jewish matriarch salivate: hundreds of eligible Jewish boys and girls primed for pairing.
This was the Matzo Ball, a counter-Christmas party that raged on until early Saturday morning at Club Boca on Palmetto Park Road. And if you're Jewish and single on Christmas Eve, it beats the heck out of Chinese food.
Eighteen years ago, the first Matzo Ball dropped into a Boston club called Metro, now the Avalon. Today, 13 big Matzo Balls are thrown across the United States and Canada.
At Jewish bastions such as New York and Boston, the events have become a tradition for Jewish singletons, said founder Andrew Rudnick, 40. And Boca is no different.
"To me, Boca is the center of the Jewish Universe," he said.
Why else would Rudnick choose this as a home base for his Matzo Ball empire this year?
"Well, I didn't want to freeze my tucus off."
Before midnight, the line to get into the Matzo Ball coiled through the lobby and outside of the Bank of America building where Club Boca, formerly Radius, is located.
Inside the spartan club, decorated with Christmas lights, the only unifying characteristic of the voluminous crowd was that it was, by its members' own admission, largely Jewish.
There were young Jews from New York (at least four girls from Syosset alone), Jews from around Florida (Miami, Orlando), the unambiguous presence of South Florida's older Jewish singles circuit (J-Date, the Jewish online dating service, co-sponsored the event) and even a smattering of non-Jews.
Emily Saltzman, 21, a student at the University of Miami, was flitting around Club Boca's smoky patio. She had spent enough time here to size up the crowd.
"It's kind of like a bat mitzvah," she said, referring to the Jewish coming-of-age rite. "There are many people older than me."
Even though Saltzman was put off by clubbing in close proximity to men her father's age, her spirits were buoyed by the excess of young Jewish men.
"I'm on the prowl," she said, laughing.
Sam Halpert, the local Matzo Ball coordinator, said the Matzo Ball is an answer to the "Jewish dilemma" of what to do on Christmas Eve.
"This is the biggest Jewish singles event in the world," he said.
But there was little to nothing expressly Jewish about this evening.
The music was '80s pop standards and modern dance hits. And from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., not one Jewish song, not even Hava Nagilah played. There were no long skirts or yarmulkes here, just typical rump-rocking attire: mini-skirts, anything that sparkles. But one man was seen with a chai charm on a golden chain.
For the most part, the people here came for romance of one variety or another. Some find true love: Rudnick, the founder, met his wife, Katherine, at a Matzo Ball in 1997.
Others just came looking for a date.
"I've never seen so many hot Jewish girls in one place," said Fort Lauderdale resident Dale Hertzman, 27.
The party lasted until 5 a.m. Christmas Day.
The Palm Beach Post
Saturday, April 24, 2004
Publication: Seattle Times
by Pamela Sitt (excerpt)
"I'm not Jewish, but I'm seriously considering crashing tonight's Matzo Ball at Watertown in Queen Anne. (I'm so over egg nog at this point.)
"It's like going to a Jewish wedding without a rabbi," said [a representitive] for the Boston-based Society of Young Jewish Professionals/Matzo Ball. "It's a party."
You know how people say weddings are a great place to meet people? Same principle applies here: If you're single, come to mingle. It worked for founder Andrew Rudnick, who met a nice Jewish girl at one of his annual Matzo Ball parties — now in 13 cities, including Seattle for the first time — and married her.
But you don't have to be single — or Jewish, for that matter — to attend.
The party starts at 8 tonight at nightclub Watertown (206-284-5003, 106 First Ave. N.); tickets are $25 at the door. For more information, visit www.matzoball.org.