Why the Shabbat dinner table is the best place to find a date
By James Marlow
Created 12/03/2015 - 13:19
Forget computer dating - when it comes to meeting potential partners, you cannot beat the Shabbat dinner table.
That's according to Rachel Langford, a 33-year-old neuroscientist from Tel Aviv, who is studying for her PhD at Imperial College in London.
Soon after her arrival in the capital earlier this year, she was invited to a Friday night Shabbat meal where the discussion centred on the unromantic topic of brain death.
She said: "The guests kept asking questions and we spent the evening having a fascinating conversation."
Later, when guests started to leave, she recalled: "One of the girls said she really liked a guy who asked several 'brain' questions and wondered whether I could invite them both to a lecture so there would be an 'excuse' to bump into each other again."
It was a lightbulb moment for Ms Langford. "I realised that Friday night dinners were an opportunity to connect people."
She set up a group on Facebook called JFriends which now boasts almost 1,100 members. The aim is to bring Jewish single professionals together in an Orthodox environment, although there is no affiliation to any Orthodox group or body.
Every month 240 young Jewish people between the ages of 25-45 come to hear kiddush and enjoy a four-course kosher meal at venues in Hendon or Golders Green, in north London.
Ms Langford, who runs JFriends with colleagues Roy Perets and Nir Avrahami, said: "Some of the guests had never before experienced a proper relaxed Shabbat atmosphere while guys said they were dating Jewish girls for the first time."
The group has now branched out with regular mid-week activities such as talks and charity events, and there are now JFriends affiliates in Borehamwood and Tel Aviv.
And the magic of Shabbat seems to be working. "We already have five Jewish couples seriously dating each other," said Ms Langford.