Brooklyn Man Hopes to Open a New Chapter of Jewish Dating
At many recent Passover seders, sometime after the four questions were asked, a fifth one was posed by a parent or grandparent: “So, when are you getting married?”
Some people may have given an answer, or opted to drink a fifth cup of wine. Others may have gotten so angry that they wanted to break more than the middle matzah. So what if any combinations of JDate, JSwipe, matchmakers, dinners, parties, set-ups from friends, or random encounters haven’t worked?
Ben Rohr of Brooklyn thinks that his new venture can help. After examining dating trends and seeing so many quality people who are still single, the 27-year-old is launching Openly. The goal is to hand-pick people and put them in a safe environment with other like-minded Jewish singles who share similar traits.
Rohr said that there are a number of problems hindering people’s search for their soul mates and bad habits are difficult to break.
“If I impress the person and show off, they will like me,” Rohr said, describing one mentality. “Especially with guys, they will talk about what yeshiva they went to, or the job they have, or the money they have.”
Rohr, who is married, said that the key to compatibility is demonstrating that someone can be emotionally present for his or her spouse and meet their psychological needs. He also said that too many nights are wasted online.
“Meeting people in real life is the key,” Rohr said. “Dating sites don’t work. Yes, there are people that meet on them, but it’s cumbersome. It sounds lovely, but there is a lack of authenticity.”
While people also connect at large events and parties, Rohr said that many have difficulty due to the pressure.
“Often it’s a hyper-superficial situation, and there are multiple and conflicting ideas floating in people’s minds,” he said. “You might make a connection with someone but think the idea is to meet as many people as possible and move on — or worry that you’re cornering the person and taking away their chance to meet other people. Guys need to be forward, but they have to be mensch. Women may be interested, but think they shouldn’t show they are too interested.”
Rohr said that Openly’s events will begin with a workshop to break down barriers. One example will be that men and women will be paired up and share an embarrassing moment that took place as a child that they can now laugh about. He said that the idea is to shift the emotional energy so people aren’t so guarded that they feel like they are constantly judged.
“What I hope to do with my project is design the game differently,” Rohr said. “In life, there is no education in relationship training. Past relationships have taught people to be mistrustful. Things inferred from movies have given people an unrealistic outlook. I have a lot of friends who don’t have a hard time getting dates, but they have a hard time navigating authentically.”
The Baruch College graduate said that Jewish society acknowledges that there is a problem with too many unmarried people, but the advice is to just go to more events or set-ups. Family members, however well-meaning, might make the person’s life stressful and give them a negative feeling that affects their confidence or ability to open up to a possible match.
“The idea is to empower everyone in a positive setting,” Rohr said. “I want to help give people skills to open up and navigate different interactions.”
The first event was held on April 22 and Rohr said that he may eventually try to expand to other cities outside of New York. Rohr said that his best advice is to get to know people on a meaningful level.
“We tend to think we have to hide all our flaws, but there is magic in showing vulnerability,” he said.
Alan Zeitlin’s articles have appeared in The Journal News, The Jewish Week, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, and other publications. For more info go to www.openlydating.com