How to — Literally — Find the Date of Your Dreams



Yenta is the first location-based mobile dating app for Jewish singles.

In an attempt to digitize the age-old tradition of matchmaking, a New York-based digital agency has launched Yenta, the first location-based mobile phone application to help people meet their prospective dates — serendipitously and in real time.

Using GPS technology, Yenta enables users to find Jewish singles in their vicinity, a feature that adds to the fun for some users, while others consider it an invasion of privacy. A user can log into the app and map the locations of Jewish singles nearby, push the “chat” bubble, and meet the person right away.

“How cool would it be if I was on my college campus and I can see who else is Jewish and single in my class, networking events and at the library?” said Luba Tolkachyov, 31, co-founder of New York based digital agency Findr Interactive, who created Yenta. “One of the sole purposes of this application is to make dating fun and exciting.”

Yenta, which had more than 1,500 users sign up in less than a month, claims that its membership has increased fivefold in the last two weeks, with most of the users in New York. Online dating is the third largest revenue producer of all paid content sites, according to Forrester Research Inc, a global research and advisory firm. Yenta joins several other dating services that use GPS technology, including Sonar, Skout, Foursquare, Grindr, Meetmoi and StreetSpark.

At a time when popular Jewish dating sites like JDate boast that 63 percent of online dates come from them, Yenta describes the working of such sites as “archaic”.

“Technology is rapidly changing, but for reasons we couldn’t understand, Jewish dating sites remain pretty archaic. They still rely heavily on long, detailed profiles,” the Yenta product description reads.

JDate asks for lots of relevant details, according to a spokesperson, because that seems the best way to help serious daters find a match. “As the leading online community for Jewish singles, JDate is a destination for serious daters looking for meaningful relationships within the Jewish faith,” said Arielle Schechtman, JDate spokesperson. “Therefore, JDate members are encouraged to fill out their profiles as completely as possible.”

Yenta eliminates the long, detailed profiles and instead choosse a more direct approach. Upon logging in, Yenta members are asked to upload a profile picture and then answer questions like “How Jewish are you?” “What’s your shtick?” and “What will impress your mother?”

Sam Goldberg, 25, a law student from Florida, registered two weeks back and is excited about the app.

“I think this is a fun app,” said Goldberg. “There are many times you walk into a bar or a restaurant that you see a girl that you want to talk to but don’t know if she is single or not.”

For Goldberg, GPS technology in the app added to the excitement. “By having the GPS you are always able to meet knew people in all different areas that you travel to,” said Goldberg.

Some women seem more hesitant about disclosing their location to potential dates before having a formal conversation. “All this is fun but the GPS part is creepy. I don’t want a stalker in my life,” said Manhattan based Monica Sophia, 26, an intern at Celene Corporation, a multinational biopharmaceutical company.

Reacting to the criticism over GPS technology, Tolkachyov said, “The application does not expose your exact location, unless you opt to check into a location. Without the check-in, your location is shown only in relation to that of other members.”

And, launched in 2002, claims that it was one of the first dating sites to have an iPhone app — and that it avoided the GPS feature on purpose. “They (Yenta) are really late to the game. We had ours out three years ahead of them,” said Sam Moorstein, president of “Ours isn’t GPS based. That’s too creepy for our female members.”

Kerry Rubinstein, the wife of Central Synagogue rabbi Peter Rubinstein and a one-time matchmaker, said Yenta seems like a natural addition to the matchmaking toolkit. “In this era of meet-ups and flash mobs, as long as there is an option to turn off the GPS feature, I don’t think it is creepy at all for young people. Those who are less comfortable with social media are probably better off with more ‘traditional’ online dating,” she said.