On March 11, more than 70 singles between the ages of 22 to 35 from the Greater Washington and Baltimore area and beyond convened at Young Israel Shomrai Emunah in Silver Spring, Maryland.
“Speed Dating and Sushi” was organized by Silver Spring community members Teanna Brzycki Mainzer (who is married), Lucas Druskin (who is not), and several other private individuals who lent a hand, like professional dating coach Rachel Burnham, Master of Ceremonies Chaim Lazarus, and Singles United Network (SUN) Founder David Katzoff.
“The fact that 70 singles attended the event indicates that many of our singles want co-ed singles events where the singles can talk to each other,” said Katzoff, contrasting this event with other social gatherings for local observant Jewish singles (or the lack thereof). “My hope is that shuls in Baltimore and DC will take our lead and have many similar types of events.”
With a refined atmosphere, tasty fare, and a briskly-run speed dating component with time to mingle casually before and after the gauntlet, the event was well-received by participants and drew an enthusiastic crowd. Local foodie Shushy Turin led the sushi-making tutorial (Pro tip: make extra rice!), and after sampling the fruits of their labor the speed dating took place in the synagogue’s larger social hall. The majority of participants were from within an hour’s drive of Silver Spring, but one came from Toronto after seeing the event online and deciding to make a weekend getaway out of it.
The organizers are already tossing around ideas for future programming. “For some people, arranged dates can feel formal and stifling, so it would be helpful to have more opportunities to meet other singles in an informal, relaxed setting, such as volunteering at a soup kitchen or at a Shabbat meal,” said Druskin. Several of his close friends gave dating a try in the Greater Washington area, he said, but ultimately chose to move to New York where the perceived chance of meeting a match is higher. So-called “out of town” communities stand to benefit by having singles meet, get married, and establish families in their respective cities rather than lose them to the tri-state area.
“We all want what is best for our Jewish singles,” said Katzoff. “If each of the big shuls in Baltimore and DC had one co-ed singles event per year, our singles would have a much better chance of meeting their zivug (match). They might also begin to feel that the local Jewish leadership is doing everything it can to help them in this journey,” he said.