'Speed Dating' aims to match Jewish singles

Posted: Friday, April 28, 2000

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. (AP) -- The start of a long-lasting relationship could take only seven minutes of conversation in a coffee shop.

But during that span, the two people sitting across from each other can't talk about their jobs or where they live, and they can't give out their phone numbers.

Meet ''Speed Dating,'' a service for Jews who say they can't find a Jewish mate.

With seven minutes on the clock, pairs at each table fire questions at each other about goals, values and feelings on Israel, trying to gauge if the stranger is a soul mate.

''One minute,'' the rabbi calls out.

Then time is up, and they pick up their lattes, swap seats and start all over again; new table, new ''date.''

Born of the idea that people are too busy to date and that intermarriage is among the greatest threats to Judaism, Speed Dating lets singles size up a pool of potential Jewish matches in less than an hour, then decide whether they want a full-length date.

Participants write on a form whether they want to see a person again. Organizers match up the dates and call the participants with phone numbers.

The concept was developed by Aish HaTorah, an international Jewish outreach program, and pitched to chapters around the world. The first session was held in Los Angeles in March 1999 and already boasts one marriage.

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