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I’m sitting in a Manhattan apartment watching the sun set with 11 of New York’s most eligible Jewish singles.It’s Friday night and the table is a traditional Shabbat setting—a Kiddush cup filled with red wine, freshly-blessed candles and challah bread that’s been ripped apart and passed around the table.The crowd is hushed as Erin Davis a 30-year-old, waif-like blond, our host for the night, announces it’s time for ice breakers, where we’ll read funny and ironic facts about each other and guess who it could be.Later I’ll leave after arranging a date with an adorable man handpicked by Davis whom my mother would kvell—ahem, gush—over.“The studies disturb me, and there are small things to do to keep the tradition alive but make it our own,” she says.And the recent rise of anti-Semitism across Europe is especially troubling to her, even thought it’s not prevalent in New York.Davis’ inspiration comes from her own grandmother, Rose Goldberg, who survived the holocaust in hiding after being sent to the ghettos of Wladimir Wolynsk in Poland.“I used to think she was just this old-school sweet Polish lady,” Davis says.
He explains it as a more wholesome experience than dating at a bar. One dinner was called Bourbon and Beatbox, where contestant and special guest Jay Stone beatboxed the Shema, a prayer from the Torah.
“It’s a huge passion of mine to take a direct role in stopping [anti-Semitism,]” she says. It’s inspired me to do whatever I can to continue the tradition and to modernize Shabbats to make them for the times today.
Davis incorporates bits of tradition into each dinner she hosts, whether it’s a group of modern Orthodox Jews or, what’s more common, a group of Secular ones.
This is “Shabatness,” an invite-only service that sets up young Jewish professionals over Shabbat dinners.
Davis is quite rare, a matchmaker who does things the artisanal way, setting up singles through dinner parties, not apps or algorithms.