If you grew up with a Jewish mother, chances are, at some point or another, she wanted to know how your love life was going. And she may have even shared an opinion or two on just what kind of person you should be dating. And when you’ll be getting married. And when you’ll be finally giving her grandchildren.
Today, the world of finding a match has the added bonus (or nightmare, you decide) of online dating. And while many Jews turn to certain websites where they can meet other Jews, online dating is still online dating, and for the most part, it can get ugly out there.
That brings us to TheJMom. TheJMom.com is a new dating website that, like JDate, is geared for Jewish Americans, but unlike any other dating site, it puts the ball in the dater’s mom’s court. That’s right. Moms create profiles for their sons and daughters, and then interact with other mothers who are looking to set up their children. We sat down with Danielle and Brad Weisberg, the brother and sister team who started TheJMom, as well as their mother, Barbara, to talk about why JDate isn’t enough, the potential downfalls of letting your mother choose your profile picture, and the age old question: Do Jewish moms really know best?
What was the initial impetus for starting the site?
Danielle: We launched TheJMom in 2010, but the story begins a year earlier. We both were on JDate and our mother had asked numerous times to look at Brad’s online dating profile and search the site to see if she could find the perfect girl for him. Brad finally gave in and let her go to town, searching the site as she pleased. Two hours later, Brad came back to check on his mom and found her still completely engaged with the computer, searching with a list of about 10 different girls for him to contact. She had put more effort and time into the process than he could or ever would, and she enjoyed doing it.Brad: That was our first Aha moment. Additionally, our Aunt Elaine set up her son Michael with a nice girl and two years later they got married. Hmmm…maybe mom knows something we don’t?! - Why was JDate not enough?
Brad: Because we add the element of family. For once it’s not the person who is single browsing the site–it’s a parent, aunt or uncle. They know you very well and also have the experience of dating and being married themselves. They often look for people with similar upbringing, characteristics, and hobbies as opposed to just their pictures.
What is the biggest mistake that moms make when creating their son or daughter’s profile?
Danielle: I cannot say that all mothers do this, but some put up embarrassing older photos of their children. It would be smart for parents to check in with their children to make sure the photos are good ones!
Do you think it’s embarrassing to be set up by your mother?
Danielle: You know dating is not easy these days for young professionals. It takes lots of time, money, and can be very stressful. We understand that some people might feel uncomfortable letting their parents become involved with their romantic lives. My mom was right when she told me that I was never going to find prince charming in a bar. My brother and I are close with our parents and we value and trust their opinions. We know they have our best interest at heart and just want to help.
Brad: Also, family matchmaking has been a long tradition in our family. Our parents were set up and have been happily married for 37 years!
As a mother, it’s pretty much your duty to kvell over your children. How can moms write up a nice, glowing profile without completely exaggerating their kids’ qualities?
Danielle: It is important for mothers to be honest. Of course, it is always beneficial to point out their children’s strengths, but exaggerating will do them no good in the long run if trying to create a successful match. Just be honest in your profile and speak from the heart.
Brad: If the children feel a connection, let them meet and get to know one another on their own. The site is set up so moms have to step out of the picture at that point.
Danielle: Well, we recently celebrated our very first JMom marriage! That’s probably the biggest stand out so far. The best part, besides bringing together two wonderful Jewish kids who never would have met if not for the site, is that the mothers became best friends in the process!
Brad: For me, it’s personal. My mom was right all along. She set me up with a girl on the site and we’ve been dating for the last ten months…I guess JMom’s really do know best.
We also had the pleasure of talking to Danielle and Brad’s mother, Barbara, about her take on TheJMom.
Do you have a history of trying to set up your kids?
Barbara: No, I do not have a history of trying to set up my children. I have noticed over the years some very accomplished, young working singles with many compatible traits to my children. I would think that my kids would be attracted to them. I didn’t push the issue.
Do you think Jewish mothers are inherently good matchmakers? If so, why?
Barbara: Jewish mothers are not inherently the best matchmakers, but most Jewish families are very close. The values and traditions of being Jewish are taught to our children.I think most moms know when a relationship is compatible with their child’s background. Most moms know when a relationship is healthy and will allow their child to thrive.
What advice do you have for mothers who are feeling frustrated that their kids are still single?
Barbara: For mothers that are frustrated–give it time. Your kids will find a healthy relationship and settle down on their own time schedule and not yours.
A good chunk of our audience has kids in the 0-5 range, so the only dates their ready for are play dates. At what age to you think it’s acceptable for a mother to decide, ok, it’s time for you to find a mate?
Barbara: Today’s world is so different, so complicated. Many factors play into a child’s decision. A young professional in their 20s may be more settled and more mature than someone else in their 40s. It depends on so many things. The level of maturity, occupation, education, background etc. Timing is everything. It’s up to the child.
Brad and Danielle Weisberg are brother and sister from Louisville, Kentucky, currently living in Chicago. Brad is the founder of Bodyshopbids.com, and Danielle is a 3rd grade teacher.