Blognik Beat

The Russian Match To Make Grandma Happy

By Samantha Shokin

  • Print
  • Share Share
Samantha Shokin

On Valentine’s Day, the Russian Jewish community officially joined the ranks of JDate, ChristianMingle, BlackSingles and countless other dating sites tailored to specific ethnic groups by defining its own niche market within the larger Internet dating pool. RAJE On, an alumni association of the Russian American Jewish Experience partnered with JWed.com, the “largest Jewish dating service exclusively for marriage-minded singles,” to launch RAJEMate — an extension of JWed that “includes filters that allow you to focus solely on Russian Jews” when seeking out a potential spouse. And with a tagline that reads “one step closer to finding life-long partners and making our babushkas happy,” who can resist the call to join?

With social media’s increasing ubiquity, online dating has shed its former unwholesome reputation and become something of a mainstream phenomenon. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Internet has splintered off yet another subcategory for online dating clientele — in this instance, Russian Jews. This is all well and good, and I’m sure scores of singles will soon flock to RAJEmate’s calculated interface in hopes of finding that special someone to bring home to Mom.

Many Russian Jewish parents urge their children to gravitate toward others of “their kind” when seeking out potential mates. This gravity of sorts can, in part, be explained by generations of stigma that Russian Jews faced as a minority culture. A common grievance that I hear is “In Russia, we were Jews. In America, we are Russians.” Surely, generations of discrimination explain the tendency to marry within the culture, and often emphasis is only placed on the Jewish factor and Russianness isn’t even a concern (hence the cliché, “is s/he Jewish?” when young people make mention of a significant other). Nevertheless, even in a country as open to diversity as the United States, plenty of first- and second-generation Russian Jews forgo the opportunity to date outside of their ethnic group, as is evident with RAJEmate.

The reasons for this make sense. People feel more comfortable around their own kind; they want to preserve the culture; so on and so forth. But as a young person living in a culturally rich city like New York, is it wise to shun members of other ethnic groups — a practice that is, without question, discriminatory — for the sake of some antiquated traditions? Isn’t it hard enough to find an ideal match without additional ethnic prerequisites? Hasn’t science also effectively argued the advantage of diversifying the gene pool? Or are the urgings of the older generation tried and true — that we should marry our own kind, preserve the sacred lineage and “save” ourselves from getting sucked into the 50% intermarriage rate?

Society encourages us to compartmentalize people based on external markers like ethnicity. The Internet follows suit, and at once makes this practice less abstract with explicit markers indicating faith and race on dating profiles. This crudely oversimplifies complex identities, and shouldn’t be the overriding factor in a quest for an ideal match.

Samantha Shokin, 22, is a senior at N.Y.U. Gallatin, concentrating in literary journalism. She was born in New York City and lives in Brooklyn with her mother and father, who emigrated from Ukraine and Lithuania, respectively.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: dating, love, Russian American Jewish Experience, RAJEMate, JDate, relationships

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.