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This New York-based dating coach has sage advice for Jewish singles

(New York Jewish Week) — On the Netflix reality show “Jewish Matchmaking,” matchmaker and star Aleeza Ben Shalom jet-sets around the world, meets her clients one-on-one, and dives deep into her little black book in order to make connections based on what attributes people seek in a partner and what sort of values they have.

Jewish Matchmaking” may be entertaining, but it’s not exactly representative of how most Jews meet their romantic partners today. As anyone who’s been on a date in the past 10 or 20 years knows, outside the Orthodox community, the primary way people get together is via online dating apps. This cultural shift has paved the way for new types of matchmakers, like Jewish “online dating coach” Erika Ettin. Her process may be different than it was back in the day, but the goal remains the same: to find finds and catch catches.

Ettin, who finesses her clients’ online dating profiles and helps them establish their dating priorities, has a pragmatic approach to modern dating. “I don’t believe in bashert,” she told the New York Jewish Week, using the Yiddish word for “preordained” that is colloquially used to mean “soulmate.” “I don’t believe in one person for everyone. I think many people can make you happy for different reasons.”

Ettin, 42, founded her modern-day matchmaking business, A Little Nudge, in 2011. The name, Ettin clarifies, is pronounced “nuhdge” — as in gentle encouragement — and not the Yiddish “noodge,” meaning to annoy or pester. “Only my mom is allowed to call me that,” Ettin quips. “But I’m giving people a push. I’m giving them the tools they need to get out there.”

Though Ettin’s clients are not exclusively Jewish, she estimates that some 15 percent of them are — “which is a lot more than the national average!” Ettin joked. (A recent Pew study found that Jews make up about 2.4% of the U.S. population.)

Through her business, Ettin offers three levels of service, with pricing from $500: The standard “little nudge” includes a Zoom consultation, after which Ettin will write a client’s online dating profile and select their pictures. Her aim, she said, is to help people put their best proverbial foot forward while simultaneously ensuring that they don’t represent themselves inaccurately.

“Anything that lets your personality shine, shows your quirks and stays positive,” she advises. “But it’s more than a profile. It’s being proactive on the sites that makes you successful.”

The next tier is A Little Nudge Plus, in which Ettin also presents her clients with some handpicked matches and helps draft those initial, particularly anxiety-inducing messages. Finally, there’s “A Little Nudge Platinum,” the whole enchilada of Ettin’s services, in which clients hand over their dating reins: Ettin will swipe and message on her client’s behalf —  but only to the point of setting up the first meeting. “Ultimately, they’re the ones going on the date,” she said.

Ettin’s approach to dating is born out of first-hand experience: Formerly an economist at Fannie Mae in Washington, D.C., Ettin was an early adopter of online dating in 2001. Using the Jewish dating site JDate, she relied on her savvy with statistics to usher her through the complicated process, from talking online (and later, via app) to meeting in real life.

“I put two things I really liked together: online dating and spreadsheets,” Ettin said, explaining that she initially created the spreadsheet to ensure she didn’t write to the same person twice. Soon, however, she realized she could employ this tracking system to ask questions like, “What’s my response rate if I write to somebody? If I make little tweaks, is the probability of getting a response higher? What’s my conversion rate if this person writes back? Do we go on a date?”

Eventually, friends started to notice how successful she was at garnering online dates and requested her assistance with their profiles, inspiring Ettin to quit her job at Fannie Mae and make the jump to full-time date doctoring. “Best decision I ever made,” she declared.

Recently, Ettin made another big, long-awaited jump: After 19 years in Washington, she moved to Brooklyn Heights in December 2022. Ettin had found she was making frequent trips to New York, both to meet with clients and — “here’s where it gets fun,” she said — to compete in the live pun competition Punderdome (she even won the show’s last outing in June).

“I finally decided, if not now, then when?” she said, quoting Jewish sage Hillel. “There’s usually something holding you back — either you’re taking a class, or you’re in a relationship, or you’re… something. It was the first time in a long time where nothing was keeping me anymore.”

So far, Ettin is adjusting to her new scene in Brooklyn Heights nicely, calling it the perfect mix of “quiet and quaint,” perfect for walking her dog, Scruffy, a mutt she suspects is a terrier dachshund mix. She often heads to Times Square to “feed my Broadway addiction,” she said.

“Everything about me makes sense here,” said Ettin, who declined to share her relationship status. (“I generally try not to mix personal and professional,” she said.)

Of course, the same issues that plague any New Yorker plague her as well, like attempting to cook a seven-pound brisket for Passover in her New York-sized oven. (Per Ettin’s review, it was “a mess, but delicious.”) For 20 years, Ettin has hosted a Passover seder in her home; it’s one of many ways she celebrates her cultural Judaism.

Growing up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Ettin was raised Jewish and had a bat mitzvah. It wasn’t until she was a student at Cornell University that she began to connect with her culture on a deeper level. That’s mainly because she missed the taste of matzah ball soup — a powerful motivator for an 18-year-old living away from home for the first time. Ettin attended Reform synagogue in college, and upon relocating to Washington, helped to lead services for young professionals at the historic Sixth & I synagogue alongside Jewish rocker Rick Recht.

Despite what “Sex and the City” and Instagram meme accounts have led many to believe, Ettin doesn’t necessarily subscribe to the notion that dating is harder in New York City than other locales. “Every city has its quirks,” she said. “And there are so many options, and I know that does frustrate people. The paradox of choice, right? When you have so many things to choose from, you’re not actually happy with your choice. There’s always another person a swipe away.”

“But I think dating in New York can be great,” she added. “Most people complain about their own city, but every city can’t be the worst, you know? Are you going to come across every stereotype you think you’re going to come across in New York City? Absolutely, but are you also going to come across amazing people who are looking for what you’re looking for? Yeah, but it takes digging.”

One trend Ettin has noticed among her Jewish clients: Many of them want to meet someone who is also Jewish, even if they’re not particularly observant. That’s good news for any Jewish single looking for a partner — and maybe even better news for any bubbe-figure who wants a loved one to be searching for a Jewish partner.

Ettin’s advice for meeting another Jewish New Yorker is simple: “Pay for the filters on the dating apps so they can filter religion,” she said. “Because it cracks me up when they say ‘This is a dealbreaker’ and then they refuse to pay the $20 to actually use the filter to filter for religion.”

This advice holds true for whatever your dealbreakers are, Ettin advises. “If those checkboxes are there on the dating sites, use those to your advantage,” she said. “On the flip side, just because the option is there doesn’t mean you have to use it. Just because you can search by every inch of height, does not mean you need to.”

While her speciality may be online dating, Ettin believes it’s still possible for people to connect and fall in love IRL in NYC. “Put yourself in places where you want to be, anyway, and then if you meet someone it’s an added bonus,” she advises. “If going to synagogue is important to you, find one that you really like and then you’re already in your element. If you meet someone there, it’s an added bonus. If you want to take some kind of Israeli cooking class, you’re already enjoying yourself because it’s something you want to be doing. If you meet someone it’s an added bonus.”

No matter your situation, or what you’re seeking in a partner, central to much of Ettin’s advice is asking for the things you want. “I think it’s not only OK but encouraged to tell people exactly the types of behaviors you want,” she said. “If you are in a relationship and you want flowers three times a year, tell your partner, ‘I want flowers three times a year.’ You’re not going to be upset when they then give you flowers because you told them — you’ll be happy.”

These types of communication tools were invaluable to Elizabeth Cutler, a former client who recently moved from a career in government “into the creating writing chapter” of her life. She said Ettin “really helped me refresh myself and to present the best version of myself” and to “really listen to my instincts.”

“Everyone is trying to do what they think they’re supposed to do in dating, and sometimes that gets a little mixed up with putting forward authentic selves,” Cutler, 35, said of the wisdom she learned. “It’s good to give people grace around that.”

On “Jewish Matchmaking,” Ben Shalom famously says she has “the hardest job in the world.” Ettin’s approach, meanwhile, is a bit more practical. “The desire to meet someone or find a partner is never going to go away,”she said. “If the economy changes, or anything changes, people will still have the desire to meet a partner. I think I will always have work to do.”

Ultimately, when it comes to love, Ettin doesn’t believe in luck. “I believe in hard work,” she said.

The post This New York-based dating coach has sage advice for Jewish singles appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Israel, US Blast ‘Outrageous’ ICC Request for Netanyahu’s Arrest

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Jerusalem, Feb. 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday issued blistering condemnations of the International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor’s demand for arrest warrants for the Israeli premier, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Hamas terror chief Yahye Sinwar.

Biden said the move by Karim Khan was “outrageous” and “shameful,” adding, “Let me be clear: Whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken added that the US “fundamentally rejects the announcement.”

In a video message, Netanyahu called the warrant application “absurd and false” and said it “was not directed only against the prime minister of Israel and the defense minister, but against the entire State of Israel and against the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers, who are fighting with otherworldly heroism against the depraved Hamas murderers who attacked us with savage butchery on the seventh of October.”

Addressing the chief prosecutor, Netanyahu continued: “With what chutzpah do you dare compare the monsters of Hamas to the soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the world? With what audacity do you compare between Hamas that murdered, burned, butchered, raped, and kidnapped our brothers and sisters, and the IDF soldiers who are fighting a just war that is incomparable, with a morality that is unmatched?”

In addition to Sinwar, the request also called for the arrests of Hamas’ political leader in Qatar, Ismail Haniyeh, and the Palestinian terror group’s military head, Mohammed Deif, on charges of war crimes.

Blinken called the prosecutor’s equivalence of Israel with Hamas “shameful.”

“Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization that carried out the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and is still holding dozens of innocent people hostage, including Americans,” Blinken said.

He emphasized that the ICC had “no jurisdiction” over the war, and noted that both Israel and the US are not parties of the Rome Statute, the international treaty that established the court. The top US diplomat also called into question “deeply troubling processes” by Khan, who was supposed to send a team to Israel on Monday to coordinate his own visit next week.

“Israel was informed that they did not board their flight around the same time that the prosecutor went on cable television to announce the charges. These and other circumstances call into question the legitimacy and credibility of this investigation,” Blinken said.

An unprecedented majority in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset — 106 out of 120 MKs — signed a petition on Monday afternoon against what they said was an “unerasable historical crime.”

“The scandalous comparison by the Hague prosecutor between Israel’s leaders and the heads of terror organizations is an unerasable historical crime and a clear expression of antisemitism,” the petition read. “We reject this with revulsion. Eighty years after the Holocaust, no one will prevent the Jewish state from defending itself.”

Israel will likely lobby the US Congress to pursue sanctions against the ICC. Several Republican senators last month warned against issuing warrants, saying they would push for sanctions against Khan including barring entry to the US.

One of them, US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), said on Monday he will “feverishly work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both chambers to levy damning sanctions against the ICC,” adding that “Prosecutor Khan is drunk with self-importance and has done a lot of damage to the peace process and to the ability to find a way forward.”

Former US national security adviser John Bolton also called for the US to impose sanctions on the ICC, saying the Hague court had proved its “fundamental illegitimacy.”

“To aid our ally Israel, the US should take steps both in Congress and in the White House to condemn the ICC and impose sanctions,” he wrote on X/Twitter.

The ICC action also received strong criticism in Europe.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala called Khan’s decision “appalling and completely unacceptable.”

“We must not forget that it was Hamas that attacked Israel in October and killed, injured, and kidnapped thousands of innocent people,” he wrote on X. “It was this completely unprovoked terrorist attack that led to the current war in Gaza and the suffering of civilians in Gaza, Israel and Lebanon.”

Other European leaders, however, supported the ICC move.

“Crimes committed in Gaza must be prosecuted at the highest level, regardless of the perpetrators,” Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib wrote. “The fight against impunity wherever crimes occur is a priority for Belgium.”

The call for arrest warrants “is an important step in the investigation of the situation in Palestine,” she added.

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Republican Jewish Coalition Unveils $50,000 Ad Buy to Woo Jewish Voters Ahead of 2024 Presidential Election

US President Joe Biden speaks at a Detroit Branch NAACP annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner in Detroit, Michigan, US, May 19, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) will purchase $50,000 worth of digital ads in key battleground states with the purpose of targeting Jewish voters ahead of the 2024 US presidential election, according to a statement released by the group on Monday.

The RJC, an organization that seeks to build support for the Republican Party among Jewish voters, claimed it would release new ads underlining what it described as the deteriorating relationship between Israel and the United States during the Biden administration. The ads suggest that US President Joe Biden has undermined Israel’s military campaign in Gaza against Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that launched the ongoing war with its Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

As antisemitism spikes to record highs and America’s relationship with our ally Israel continues to reach new lows, the Jewish community is more energized than ever to turn the page from the failures, broken promises, and betrayals by Joe Biden,” RNC chair Norm Coleman and CEO Matt Brooks said in a statement.

The two ads will be deployed in states considered critical in the 2024 presidential election: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Michigan. Both ads swipe at Biden over his decision to pause offensive arm shipments to Israel and suggest the president has “stabbed Israel in the back.” They also accuse Biden of not being “strong” enough to guarantee Israel’s security and urge voters to support Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

“Biden is siding with Hamas, Iran, and Hezbollah over Israel at the most crucial time, a blunder of historic proportions that will lead to more death and destruction,” one of the ads says. 

Biden expressed strong support for Israel following the Oct. 7 onslaught, and since then the US has sent significant amounts of munitions to the Jewish state for its war effort against Hamas. In recent weeks, however, he has adopted a much more critical posture toward Jerusalem, culminating with his decision earlier this month to withhold sending certain weapons to Israel due to disagreements over Israeli military operations in Gaza.

In the months following Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attacks on Israel, Republican politicians have attempted to capitalize on the growing tension between Democrats and Jewish voters. On May 9, Trump lambasted Jewish supporters of Biden.

“If you’re Jewish, and you vote for him, I say shame on you,” Trump said. 

Ammiel Hirsch, a rabbi of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week warning Democrats not to take Jewish voters for granted. 

“American Jews increasingly feel politically homeless. Liberal Jewish voters consider President Biden a longtime friend. At the same time, they are troubled by the growing influence of anti-Israel forces in the Democratic Party,” Hirsch wrote.

In his final statement before passing away earlier this year, former US Senator and Democratic Party vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman similarly warned Democrats and Biden about the political danger of turning against Israel.

“We are here to say that you can no longer simply count on our vote just because Jews traditionally have voted Democratic. We are here to say you must earn our vote,” the joint statement read. “We want to continue to support Democratic candidates, but you need to know that if you abandon Israel in order to garner the support of anti-Israel extremists within the Democratic Party, it will be difficult for us to support Democrats who are on the ballot this November.”

Lieberman, an ardent supporter of Israel, was the first Jewish candidate on a major party presidential ticket in the US.

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Pro-Hamas Encampment at Drexel University Pushes School Into Lockdown

“Gaza Solidarity Encampment” at Drexel University. Photo: X/Twitter

A “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” was erected suddenly at Drexel University in Philadelphia over the weekend, forcing school officials to lock down the campus to protect it from a flood of non-students who joined the demonstration.

“This demonstration has already proved intolerably disruptive to normal university operations and has raised serious concerns about the conduct of some participants, including distressing reports and images of protesters subjecting passersby to antisemitic speech, signs, and chants,” Drexel University president John Fry said on Sunday in a letter to the campus community. “These kinds of hateful and intimidating acts must be condemned, and they cannot and will not be tolerated.”

Fry added that “it has become increasingly apparent that most of the encampment participants are outside individuals who are unaffiliated with Drexel.”

The group responsible for the demonstration, Drexel Palestine Coalition (DPC), is demanding that the school adopt the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and “terminate” its Hillel and Chabad chapters.

“These organizations must be replaced by non-Zionist Jewish ones that in no way support the ongoing genocide, occupation, or apartheid in Palestine,” DPC said in a statement posted on social media.

DPC also wants the university’s police force to be abolished, amnesty granted to any protester charged with violating school rules, and a “60 percent” reduction in Fry’s salary, the savings of which would be invested “into local community efforts such as affordable housing, co-ops, land trusts — specifically towards Black Bottom residents — and the rebuilding of Palestinian institutions such as hospitals and universities.”

Footage of the demonstration shows some aggressive behavior, including the protesters’ dismantling police barricades. According to the latest reports, there have been no arrests.

“Hillel continues to be grateful to have partners on campus who believe that a university experience should be filled with opportunities to engage thoroughly and thoughtfully around issues where there is both deep investment and deep disagreement while recognizing that a prerequisite for any such conversation is a demonstrated commitment to the safety, well being, and shared sense of belonging of all of the students, faculty, and staff who call our university home,” Drexel Hillel said on Sunday in a statement issued about the encampment.

The protesters’ demands are not the first assault on Jewish organizations at Drexel University this academic year.

Last month, the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life was vandalized, with the culprits removing large channel letters spelling out Perelman’s name from a brick structure near the entrance to the building. The disturbing act, which occurred amid an explosion of antisemitic hate crimes across the US, was filmed by surveillance cameras, but the persons responsible cannot yet be identified because they wore masks.

“It bears repeating that vandalizing centers of Jewish life and learning, defacing property with antisemitic graffiti, or ripping mezuzot off doorposts in residence halls does not constitute any legitimate form of protests,” Fry said at the time. “Such acts are antisemitic in their intent to disrupt Jewish life and intimidate our Jewish communities, and have no place at Drexel or in our democratic society.”

Drexel University joins the list of over 100 schools where anti-Zionists have taken over sections of campus and refused to leave unless school administrators agree to condemn and boycott Israel. Other demonstrations timed to coincide with the end of the academic year petered out earlier this month, but at Drexel, which uses the quarter system, classes do not end until June 8. Because of this, the encampment there could last as many as three weeks.

In the interim, the school remains locked down, and on Monday, Fry ordered that all classes be conducted virtually.

“We will continue to provide updates regarding this situation or any changes to the university’s operations,” Fry said in Sunday’s letter. “I ask for everyone’s patience and understanding as we work toward ensuring that our campus can soon return to normal.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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