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Thursday, February 08, 2007

PLATINUM: Profile:
A free Web site helps Jewish singles find their own Romeo or Juliet.

Elizabeth Applebaum
Contributing Editor

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Matthew Schwartz helps Jewish singles meet their match.
Photography by Angie Baan
The man of your dreams is sensitive, but doesn't live with his mother. He's smart, but doesn't talk about logarithms. He's romantic, but doesn't like "long walks on the beach."

He also lives in California, and you live in Michigan.

So how will you two ever meet?

Matthew Schwartz of Birmingham is founder of Jewish American Singles (, a Web site that brings together Jewish men and women looking for their own true loves, wherever they may be.

Yes, Schwartz says, that old method of "You're Jewish? I know somebody else Jewish you should get to know" can still get the job done, so to speak. "But people work more now and have less free time, so a lot of the more traditional ways of meeting are utilized less," he says. "Also, people don't socialize as much as they used to, and the Jewish community is more spread out."

So now the same computer that lets you find that discontinued lipstick for sale on eBay and lets you do your banking from home can also bring you love.

But don't look for the melodramatic strains of a romantic Celine Dion song to play when Schwartz enters the room. He's too cynical for that. "Well, of course this Web site is the best," he says, smiling. "I mean, it's mine. Oh, I'm just kidding. It's the best because it allows people to actually communicate."

Schwartz, 36, began Jewish American Singles in July 2004. After graduating from Albion College with a degree in computer science and economics, he created his own software-development and consulting company. Ten years later, he decided to branch out to Internet romance. Schwartz spoke with friends about their experiences on dating sites, took a look at many of them himself and then developed and tested the software.

He started out with a handful of men and women. Today, he has more than 15,000 members and averages 30 new names a day. Jewish American Singles, which offers free membership, allows you to post a profile, upload photos, search profiles, read and reply to e-mail, send winks and chat with others on the site; most members come from throughout the United States and Canada - Israel is set to be included in the near future.

Two upgrade options also exist. The first, which costs $9.95, allows you to initiate e-mail contact with anyone. The second, for $16.95, includes not only the ability to contact others but allows everyone, even those with free membership, to initiate e-mail contact with you. New members fill out a profile form and provide a user name. (Schwartz is polite, but cringes when he considers some of the user names - which bring new meaning to the word "dreadful" - that try to make a pun on the word "Jew.") Profiles also give the person's birthday, height, hair and eye color, favorite activities, level of kashrut, interests and other details. Members have the option of writing two essays about themselves, the first describing who they are, the second focusing on the kind of person they're interested in meeting. Once the profile is complete, members are encouraged to upload up to five photographs.

"The site emphasizes easy communication; everything is focused on making that happen," Schwartz says.

Schwartz says his oldest member is 80 and the youngest is 18, with the average user age ranging between 30 and 60. Though he started out with more women than men, the ratio is about 50-50 now.

As far as successes, Schwartz can report plenty of romances, and one marriage, so far.

Not his own, though.

He may be experienced at managing a matchmaking Web site, but he has yet to meet his own match. He's looking for someone smart, with a good sense of humor and preferably a woman who skis.

The sense of humor is critical. "But if she doesn't ski, it's all right," he says. "She can still come along and have a cup of hot chocolate."

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