JDate Swipes at Competitors

phone[1] JDate is suingĀ its non-profit competitor for its use of the letter “J” and the idea of using a smartphone application to match people anonymously.

JSwipe is a new free Jewish dating application for smartphones. JDate’s parent company, Spark Networks (NYSE: LOV), takes in more than $50 million a year in fees from their online dating network, including JDate, ChristianMingle, and BlackSingles. JSwipe, on the other hand, is a small team based out of a factory in Brooklyn, and “motivated by passion, inspired by impact, and committed to making love free” according to JSwipe’s founder, David Yarus.

Of course the letter “J” was not invented by JDate. It was introduced as a letter in its own right by the Italians around 1524. And online dating was not invented by JDate either. It was invented in 1965 by Harvard students Jeff Tarr and Dave Crump who founded Compatibility Research.


“From a Judaic ethics standpoint this lawsuit is inappropriate,” argues Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe, dean of the Institute of American and Talmudic Law. “Here we are talking about creating Jewish families that will have Jewish children. All the more so that we should encourage competition if the aggregate number of matches increases.”

Jonathan Loeb

Jonathan Loeb.

My smart, eligible, handsome, son Jonathan uses both JDate and JSwipe. However, he has found that JDate is oriented more toward older singles (Jonathan is 21) while my tech-savvy son really enjoys JSwipe and has had an excellent experience with the application.

While JSwipe is a literally a free gift of love, I have paid the Spark Network $72 per quarter for more than a year to pay for Jonathan’s JDate membership. However, given Jonathan’s success on JSwipe, and JDate’s abuse of their position as market leader, I will now cancel Jonathan’s membership at JDate and contribute $180 of my future savings to JSwipe’s legal defense fund.

Perhaps JDate hopes to win this lawsuit not by the force of its legal arguments but by JSwipe’s lack of resources. If they can intimidate JSwipe then other Jewish dating sites such as Simontov, The JMom and My Jewish Matches are likely to fair no better.

To help Jewish singles, please contribute generously via Indiegogo to help crowd-fund the legal battle to keep JSwipe alive. (If you happen to be a lawyer interested in providing pro-bono legal support, you can contact JSwipe at [email protected])

The Power of Connecting

One Woman’s Mission through Matchmaking and Mentoring

— by Erica Brooke Fajge

Aleeza Ben Shalom loves meeting and connecting people-so much so, that she made it her career. “So much of the world is about relationships and building connections and bringing people together,” she says. “To me, it’s the most meaningful thing that I could do.”

More after the jump.
Since launching Marriage-Minded Mentor in February 2012, Ben Shalom has been offering her matchmaking and mentoring services to a variety of clients in the U.S. and all over the world, including Europe, Israel and South Africa. She explains that matchmaking is not enough; once a client begins dating someone for a period of time, she mentors the client as the relationship progresses, and she provides advice to help keep relationships strong, leading to marriage.

Ben Shalom works with singles looking for a serious relationship; couples, either dating, engaged or married, looking to strengthen their relationship; and even parents of singles who may be giving their children the wrong advice when it comes to dating, relationships and marriage.

Ben Shalom reveals that, in addition to helping people, she had always wanted to write a book-even though writing was not her strong point. Yearning to share her knowledge as an expert on relationships and marriage to a larger audience, she sought the services of an editor whom she, ironically, met at a wedding. With the help of her editor, Alisa Roberts, she learned much about writing and book publishing.

In May 2013, Ben Shalom released her first book, Get Real Get Married. Although she, herself, is an Orthodox Jew, the book is appropriate for anyone serious about getting married-the phenomenon she refers to as being “marriage-minded”-no matter what religious background one comes from.

Ben Shalom actually grew up in a secular household in Philadelphia and was always proud of her Jewish heritage, but it wasn’t until she became older that religion became a larger part of her life. “I was always searching for meaning in life,” she explains, and after spending time caring for a sick family member, she became inspired while taking part in a Jewish learning retreat.

For Ben Shalom, whose main goal is to “help as many people as possible,” being a professional matchmaker and mentor is the perfect career. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, an individualized major she designed herself, combining Jewish studies, children’s literature and environmental studies. Yet, upon graduating, she was unclear on what she wanted to do with her life professionally. Personally, her main goal was always to have a marriage and family. So, she decided to combine her passion for helping people with her belief in successful marriages stemming from healthy dating relationships; in essence, her design of a career is quite similar to her design of a college major and her design for her life in general.

However, Ben Shalom’s real education and training have come from being married and having a family. “Most of my education has come from life experience, which is often the greatest teacher,” she says.

This “life experience” refers to her 11+ years of marriage to her husband, Gershon, whom she met on a retreat in Orlando, Fla.; surprisingly, he was also from Philadelphia, and their commonalities just continued from there. Today, the couple has five children, including a brand-new addition to the family: baby, Avraham Levi.

Ben Shalom’s first endeavor in the world of professional matchmaking was as a matchmaker with SawYouAtSinai.com, and, through that experience, she became somewhat of a mentor. Building on her mentoring skills, she soon decided to develop her own singles network and charge for her services. Starting with only a curriculum and five clients in June 2011, Ben Shalom officially launched Marriage-Minded Mentor as a sole proprietorship in February 2012.

Her services soon started gaining publicity when Philly.com published a story about her and her successful new venture. And she, herself, can attest to its success: 14 of her clients have gotten married, and eight are currently engaged. That means eight weddings to attend in the next year alone!

According to Ben Shalom, “I want to empower and educate people to get from where they are now to where they want to be.” She adds, “If you know who you are and what you want, I can help you get it.”

However, Ben Shalom’s consulting services and book are not her only projects undertaken. She has booked a number of speaking engagements for audiences of various ages and backgrounds, including one with Hadassah, which featured a PowerPoint presentation with a question and answer session. That day was a success, she says excitedly, as a number of people were seeking her advice and showing their disappointment when the day came to an end.

In addition, Ben Shalom has spoken at a number of events with organizations geared for young professionals in their 20s and 30s, including events with the Jewish organizations WOW! and Oorah. She has also been involved with organizations in her hometown of Philadelphia, including the Tribe 12 Fellowship. Ben Shalom actually took quite an active role in the Fellowship, serving as a Fellow and, as a result, learning more about strengthening and promoting her own social entrepreneurial start-up, through seminars, coaching, mentoring, networking and a final “pitch” during Launch Night, held this year at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Ben Shalom also shares her advice to another audience by hosting a weekly radio show called Lunch with Your Marriage-Minded Mentor, where she interviews guests and provides her expert advice. She says she wants to continue her show and also write another book in the near future.

Yet, her next biggest project-apart from being a new Mom again-will be training both married women and men to do what she does and become matchmakers and mentors themselves. “In addition to helping people get married, I’d like to actually train them to do what I do and help others in the same way,” she explains.

Training, consulting and mentoring come naturally for Ben Shalom, who says she always took on leadership roles in various clubs and organizations while growing up. “I always found myself to be a leader in whatever I got involved in,” she says.

At 36, this wife, mother, entrepreneur, consultant, matchmaker, mentor, speaker, author and radio show host, has found the meaning in life she had always been searching for.

“I absolutely love what I do,” she says. “There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. This is it for me.”

Counting Down From Destruction, Looking Forward to Redemption

(photo and description of Ketubah graciously provided by Mary Raz from the “Greek Jews” group on Facebook)

— by Joel S.W. Davidi

Corfu ketuboth are distinguished for using double dating, the year since creation and the year since the destruction of the Temple. The two dates on this ketubah read at the wedding of Yani, the son of Raphael De Osmo, and Esther, daughter of David De Mordo, are 5573 and 1745. The decoration is calligraphic, inscribing verses from the Books of Isaiah and Ruth which speak of bridegroom, bride, rejoicing, and blessings, (Ketubah, Corfu, 3 Heshvan, 5573 (1812), Hebraic Section, Library of Congress Photo).

The custom of calculating the years since the destruction of the Temple seems to have been a widespread one across the Balkans. Both Sephardim and Romaniotes prided themselves on their roots from the exiles of Jerusalem (Sephardim would often refer to ‘The exiles from Jerusalem that is in Sepharad‘, mentioned in Obadiah, while Romaniotes and Italkim [like De Rossi, for instance] cited oral tradition that they arrived in the area as Titus’ slaves after the destruction of the Second Jewish Commonwealth in 70 CE).

More after the jump.
When Eliezer ben Yehuda began his Zionist project of reviving Hebrew as a spoken language, he encountered strong Sephardic support. This community, which people like A. Papo in his Sephardim in the United States, dubbed ‘zionist in nature’, was enthusiastic about such a project.

Philologos writing in the Forward newspaper:

…Yet when Ben-Yehuda began publishing his weekly Hebrew newspaper Hatsvi in Jerusalem in the autumn of 1884, the date on its first issue was, “Friday, 5 Heshvan, 1816 years since the destruction of the Temple, 5645.” (There was no Gregorian date at all.) This formula was followed in the first seven issues of Hatsvi, after which “5645” was dropped. From then on, the only year on the masthead referred to the destruction of the Second Temple, which Ben-Yehuda chose to date to the beginning of the Romans’ siege of Jerusalem in 68 C.E. rather than to their final victory in 70. In everything else that he published, including his monumental 16-volume dictionary, he followed the same system.

Ben-Yehuda was an ardently nationalistic Zionist and an equally ardently anti-religious secularist, and his method of dating served both ideologies, replacing a chronology that started with God’s creation of the world with one that started with the loss of Jewish political independence in antiquity. And yet, just as he was always looking for justifications in Hebrew sources for his many linguistic innovations, so was his dating rooted in the past. Counting the years from the destruction of the Temple was actually quite common among Jews in the early centuries of the Christian era and was a system used in many ancient Hebrew documents and contracts. Although its year zero was eventually replaced by that of Creation, traces of it can still be found in Sephardic and Yemenite prayer books. Thus, for example, in some Sephardic liturgies for the fast day of the Ninth of Av, the day of mourning for the Temple, there is the passage:

“Alas for the destruction of the Temple! Alas for the burning of the Torah! Alas for the murder of righteous Jews! Alas for the sorrow of the Messiah [in having his coming delayed]! Today is ____ number of years since the destruction of our holy shrine.”

Note: Catriel Cellabos from the Western Sephardic Debate group points out:

We say something like this after ‘arbith of 9 de Ab (the traditional date that commemorates the destruction of both Temples), in Spanish: “Nuestros hermanos hijos de Israel, por nuestros pecados etc.” with the number of years.

Joel S.W. Davidi, a historian, is the creator of Romaniote Jews and Italkim/Bene Roma.  This site “Studies the indigenous Jewish communities of Southern Europe and the Balkans.”

Don’t Be Embarrassed to Meet Online

— by Steve Hofstetter

It’s not embarrassing to meet a girl online. It’s embarrassing to meet a girl at a bar. Imagine knowing the only reason you have a girlfriend is because you met her when she was drunk and now she feels trapped. Tell that story to your 8-year-old son one day.

“How did you and mommy meet?”

“Well son, it was dollar shot night. Your mother looked so beautiful as the neon “Pabst Blue Ribbon” sign hit her while she was dancing on the bar. I got her to come down with a few shots of Jack Daniels, we went back to her place, one thing led to another, and that’s why your name is Jack.”

More after the jump.
“Where do babies come from?”

“Spring break.”

A friend of mine said that dating on-line stopped being lame the first time a guy scored, because a guy can justify anything if it leads to women. But despite that and a study that says 17% of all couples meet online, there’s still a stigma attached to internet love. That same study only lists “work/school” and “friend or family member” as greater hook up potential. And many of the people who said one of those two were probably lying and really met online.

Whenever I hear a non-specific origin story about a couple, I assume they’re hiding an online love affair. Couples that meet through a friend will almost always volunteer the friend’s name. Couples that say “oh, friend of a friend” – well that friend’s name is probably Mark Zuckerberg.

I’m not just defending online dating because I met my wife on JDate — I had been using the internet to meet women since I was 15. As a high school kid tired of being ignored, I turned to Compuserve chat rooms to meet girls. I met one of my first “girlfriends” that way. And by “girlfriend” I mean “someone who I talked to on the phone for a month and never kissed.”

Compuserve was a few bucks per minute and existed before you could choose your own email address, so mine was twice as long as my phone number. But the principle that got 15-year-old me past (and to spend hundreds of dollars of my parents’ money) is also what drew me to JDate.

“But mom, I didn’t realize it was still connected!”

Simply put, I wanted to meet someone who could skip past the superficial and actually get to know me. Of course, I wanted that person to be hot, too.

“Captain irony, your table is ready.”

Hot and not superficial are rare characteristics for one person to share, but they were both on my checklist. I wanted a match to have many, many characteristics, some of which I couldn’t discover if I was just approaching people in the offline world. Part of why people get so excited when they meet someone they think could be the one is the astronomical odds of doing so. Even if you meet someone at a bar, and even if you hit it off with that person, and even if you’re slick enough to get to the point in the conversation where you exchange numbers, there are still dozens of levels of compatibility that you haven’t even broached.

Online dating has tons of advantages over in-person meeting. First, everyone there is there for the same reason you are – to meet someone. A LOT of people at a bar are married and out with friends, just got out of serious relationships, or aren’t even interested in people of your gender. More importantly, you’re able to narrow down your matches before even speaking to any of them online, which you don’t have time to do at a bar. Online dating is much more methodical and scientific than offline.

And that’s where the stigma comes from – because there’s no cool factor. Online, you’ll never have a crazy origin of how you just bumped into each other, or how animal magnetism forced you to say hi. There’s just no story involving anyone who would eventually be played in a terrible romantic comedy by Kathryn Heigl and Hugh Grant.

I prefer using a more intelligent method to meet people, so I have never found anything wrong with using the web. But for anyone still worried that meeting their soul mate on a website might somehow reflect poorly on them, I offer this metaphor.

Let’s say you were offered a choice – a hundred million dollars to be an exec at Facebook or $5 an hour plus tips to work at a bar. Wouldn’t you happily tell everyone you made your millions online?

Me too.

Steve Hofstetter is an internationally touring comedian who has been on VH1, ESPN, Comedy Central, and many more. To book him at your next event, visit SteveHofstetter.com. This column was originally published on jdate.com.

Is Dating Only Jews Prejudiced?

Jewish weddingby Steve Hofstetter

The phrase "marry a nice Jewish girl" is as engrained in Jewish culture as lox and bagels. From the time we're children, we're told to find a nice Jewish girl (or boy), in order to eventually produce other nice Jewish boys and girls. It's really a forward thinking system.

Maybe that's why the words "boy" and "girl" are used. We're so young when we're first told to date someone Jewish, encouraging us to meet adults would be creepy.

It's really the entire premise behind JDate. If there was no overwhelming desire for Jews to meet and procreate with other Jews, then there wouldn't be much need for the site. We'd all be on PlentyOfFish.com, wondering why most of the members look like they were extras on "Jersey Shore."

A non-Jewish friend of mine was telling me about how his girlfriend is Indian, and how they've been dating for 3 years but he's never met her parents. They want her to marry within their culture, and a white guy from New York doesn't exactly fit the description.

When I commented on their racism, he said, "Wait, isn't that what you did?"

In a way, he was right. I met my wife on JDate because I wanted to marry a woman from my own culture. What's the difference between "Marry a nice Jewish girl!" and "No daughter of mine is marrying a black man"? Don't those sound kind of similar?

This thought that I might be doing something racist hit me hard. My sister is black – which wouldn't be very unique, except I'm white.

Because of this, I've spent a great deal of my life railing against racism and prejudice. I have jokes in my act about it. I've gotten into long debates (and less civilized altercations) with strangers over it. I even flew down to Arizona to protest SB-1070. Racism has always been an incredibly sensitive and important issue for me.

So why am I okay with "marry a nice Jewish girl?" It's not often that I am left without a snappy comeback when challenged. But this one I had to think about. What my friend was saying made logical sense.

When Jewish parents want their son to marry the daughter of other Jewish parents, how is that different than an Indian family doing the same? Two white parents upset that their daughter is marrying a black guy? Two Texas parents who have forbid their daughter from marrying anyone from Oklahoma?

Is it all intolerance? Or do we get a pass because Jews have been persecuted?

Conventional wisdom says that it's alright when Jews are pushed to marry other Jews because our religion could die out otherwise. We're not being exclusionary to others, we're just including ourselves. They've tried to stamp us out so many times, it's our right to be prejudiced.

Well, not exactly.

I realized my answer. As I've written before, I met my wife on JDate because I wanted to be with someone who shared a similar experience to me. Who understood and respected my background. Who would go to shul with me during the holidays. Who got it when I talked about the guilt may parents laid on me, and the guilt I laid right back. You know, tradition.

Is it possible I could get the same from a Christian woman willing to convert? Sure. Is it likely? About as likely as finding a decent bagel in India.

When parents encourage their children to stay within their religion, it's okay because that has to do with a belief system. When parents do the same based on race, it's not okay because that has to do with irrational fear of something physical. Your skin color doesn't define you as a person – but your religion often does.

Trying to find a match based on belief system is perfectly acceptable. If your parents forbid you to marry anyone who prefers Superman 3 over Superman 2, well, that's acceptable, too. Odd, but acceptable.

Well, not that odd. I wouldn't want any child of mine marrying the kind of nut it takes to think Superman 3 was a superior film.

I know that my parents would prefer me to be with a giving and caring Christian woman over a murderous Jewish woman any day. But all other things equal (or even close to equal), they'd simply prefer me have someone I can share my culture with. And I agree.

Also it helps that on our first date, my wife and I both ordered the exact same bagel.

Steve Hofstetter is an internationally touring comedian who has been on VH1, ESPN, Comedy Central., and many more. To book him at your next event, visit SteveHofstetter.com. This column was originally published on jdate.com.

Is It Racist to Want a Jewish Spouse?

by Aaron Moss

Question: I was explaining to a non-Jewish work colleague that I only date Jewish men, because I would not marry a non-Jew. He accused me of being racist. I was caught on the spot and had nothing to say. How would you respond to this accusation?

Answer: If insisting that you will only date Jews makes you racist, does insisting that you will only date men make you sexist? You are certainly discriminating, but is this discrimination bad?

You are not talking about what type of person you want to work with, or whom you would prefer to sit next to on a train. You are talking about whom you want to marry. Are you expected not to discriminate about whom you marry, the same way you are expected not to discriminate when reading a job application?

There are plenty of wonderful women out there, but they can’t father your children. And there are plenty of wonderful non-Jewish men out there, but they can’t give you a Jewish family. You want a family, so you seek a man; you want a Jewish family, so you seek a Jewish man. There is nothing offensive about that.

And there is no racial issue here. Jewishness is neither a race nor a religion. It is a soul identity. The man you marry can be a European Jew or an Oriental Jew, a black Jew or a white Jew. He can be a Jew by birth or a Jew by choice. But if you want a Jewish family, he’s got to be a he, and he’s got to be a Hebrew.

This article has been reprinted with permission from The Judaism Website – chabad.org.

Do a Mitzvah this Valentine’s Day

Did you know that 47% of American Jews who married between 1996 and 2001 did so outside of their faith? Studies indicate that intermarriage reaches 37% of Conservative, 53% of Reform, and 72% of secular Jewish households.

There is a belief in the Jewish community that setting up a Jewish single still looking for love in their life is considered a mitzvah. TheJMom.com has created a video that explains how you can participate in this important mitzvah.

Two New Websites: Saving Jewish Families One Match at a Time

The latest surveys paint an alarming picture of intermarriage in the Jewish community: 47% of American Jews who married between 1996 and 2001 did so outside of their faith. While intermarriage affects only 6% of the Orthodox community, it reaches 32% of Conservative, 46% of Reform, and 49% of secular Jewish households.

Will our grandchildren be Jews?

The number of intermarriages continues to grow (in 1970 only 13% of American Jews intermarried), and only 13% of the grandchildren of intermarried couples continue to identify themselves as Jews.

To respond to this crisis intermarriage, we must encourage intra-marriage. The Philadelphia Jewish Voice has already written about Jdate which is an online Matchmaking service created in 1997. We are now pleased to announce two new online Matchmaking tools at your disposition.

  • The JMom: Geared towards Jewish parents and their single children, the site offers a unique, but old-fashioned, concept: “Let Mom decide.”
  • My Jewish Matches: 100% free, Independently funded, not-for-profit, online matchmaking service for Jews of any denomination. Members are certified to be Jewish, single with no criminal record.

Details Follow the Jump.
TheJMom.com Point. Click. Love. While dating sites have been around and grown increasingly popular throughout the past decade, there has never been a Jewish site that gave exclusive access to parents and made dating an official family affair. Until now.

The JMom breaks the mold of standard Internet matchmaking. Geared specifically toward Jewish parents and their single sons and daughters, the site offers a unique, but old-fashioned, concept: “Let Mom decide.”

“More parents are recognizing that making connections online can lead to love off- line,” said Danielle Weisberg, co-founder of TheJMom. “TheJMom.com puts parents behind the keyboard and lets them do the clicking and the matching.”

The goal of the site is to create a network of Jewish parents across the country who share a passion for finding their sons and/or daughters love. Members can browse prospective partners by city, email other parents for more information and take the initiative to set up dates. As a limited-time launch offer, from now until January 1, 2011, new members can receive free one year access. Moms – and their sons and/or daughters – can explore the site for free while home for the holidays and start 2011 off with a promising new dating scene.

Through exploring, Moms will find the site easy to navigate with three simple steps to begin the search:

  • Sign Up: Enter an email address and choose a password
  • Fill Out Your Information: Develop the profile of your son or daughter, and upload his or her photo.
  • Find a Match!: Use search tools to find the perfect match

You can browse potential partners in your child’s city, email their parents for more information about their children and family, and set them up on a casual date. All correspondence goes through the parents – so you would receive a message from another parent or vice versa. If/when both parents agree that their children might be a good match for each other, they can click an option in the message that says “Let’s set them up.” From there it is up to the kids to exchange messages, meet and determine if they are compatible.

TheJMom was launched in 2010 by siblings, Brad and Danielle Weisberg, and their good friend and programmer, Matt.

A year earlier, Brad and Danielle’s mother, Barbara, had asked numerous times to look at Brad’s online dating profile and search the site to see if she could find the perfect girl for him. Brad finally gave in and let her go to town, searching the site as she pleased. Two hours later, Brad came back to check on Mom and found her still completely engaged with the computer, searching with a list of about 10 different girls for him to contact. She had put more effort and time into the process than he could or ever would, and she enjoyed doing it. That was their first Ah-Ha moment. Additionally, Brad and Danielle’s Aunt Elaine set up her son Michael with a nice girl and two years later they got married. Hmmm…maybe Mom knows something we don’t?!

Dating is not easy these days for young professionals. It takes lots of time, money, and can be very stressful.

“Moms have been setting up their children for centuries,” said Weisberg. “We’ve made it simple for Mom to get online, and start hand-picking her son or daughter’s next date.”

My Jewish Matches

My Jewish Matches is the only 100% All Free, Jewish Relationship for Marriage Website that pre-qualifies its members to be Jewish and Single. Most so-called “Jewish” Dating websites do not pre-qualify their members and some even offer “willing to convert” as a membership category. As a result, anyone who signs up for these dating websites can join, whether they are Jewish or not, without qualification.

Unfortunately, many Jewish dating websites are charging high membership fees during difficult economic times. A group of single Jewish professionals with Rabbinical input felt it was time to finally take a stand and respond by creating a not for profit, 100% completely free, pre-qualified Jewish-Singles-Only Website, regardless of religious affiliation. There are no false or expired profiles as all members are current and real! My Jewish Matches has a maximum three-month non-visit policy and standards to screen and qualify all prospective members through a very brief questionnaire. Anyone who is not Jewish, is currently married or separated, has withheld a divorce from an ex-spouse for money or custody, has a criminal record or a history of violence is not allowed to join. My Jewish Matches is a completely funded and full-service International Jewish Relationship website with no charges of any kind ever.

The dedicated volunteers at My Jewish Matches have  spent two years developing the My Jewish Matches.Com website as “The Jewish Singles Meeting Place” and have successfully elevated the standards in Jewish Dating Websites. As they are non-profit, they do not have to accept membership from just anyone because they are willing to pay. The website was created for one purpose – to serve the world-wide Jewish Community by introducing Jews and encouraging them to meet and marry other Jews

The website just started a few months ago, but already has created its first match: Noach (member 108) and Irene (member 73) from Israel are soon to be married in Israel. Mazel Tov to the Happy Couple and Yasher Koach to My Jewish Matches.

Finding Jews in Rural America

— Steve Hofstetter

We have always gravitated towards large metro areas. Perhaps it’s because we’re a communal people. Perhaps it’s for the availability of good Chinese food. Whatever the reason, we’re city dwellers. Which means there’s an awful lot of America without any Jews.
The New York metro area has two million Jews, more than everywhere but Tel Aviv. But it’s a big drop after that. LA has 650,000. Philly, DC, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco each have about a quarter million. A few more American cities have 50,000-100,000. But when you get down to the top 40 American cities, we’re talking less than 10,000 in a metro area.

I can just imagine someone on JDate in Pierre, South Dakota, messaging the same two people over and over again. There are only 295 Jews in the whole state – I’m guessing their answer to JDate’s “Will you relocate?” question is a resounding yes.

As a standup comic, I am constantly touring – so I get a chance to see parts of the country most people only dream about. Assuming their dreams are incredibly boring. I recently played a comedy club in Mason City, Illinois. I don’t know how they have a comedy club – they don’t even have a McDonald’s. I also don’t know how they get to be called a city. Mason Rest Stop, maybe. Incidentally, Mason City’s Jewish population is me, whenever I perform there.

Something that’s always been tough for me is being Jewish on the road. I learned very quickly to ask if everything I order is made it with bacon. Salad, steak, even pizza has come with bacon without the menu saying so. In certain parts of the country, they use bacon like Jews use salt. I’m actually shocked that powdered bacon isn’t available in a jar at the table. Most days I have to pretend I’m allergic to pork for any waitress to take me seriously. You try explaining kosher in Wichita.

I try to use the stage to spread love for the Jews, both with positive Jewish humor, and by simply being a Jewish guy the crowd likes. I am often the first Jew a lot of people meet, which is a ridiculous responsibility. To counteract prevalent stereotypes, I have to make sure to tip well, avoid klezmer music, and never eat the blood of Christian babies. Or bacon.

There was one time when I purposefully didn’t talk about being Jewish on stage. Before a show at a small bar in Muskogee, Oklahoma, my friends and I were confronted by what we thought were just local yokels. As they talked our annoyed ears off more and more, yokel turned into racist, and racist turned into two card-carrying members of the Ku Klux Klan. That’s right – they had ID cards. I believe they kept them right next to their Bed Bath and Beyond rewards cards. All those sheets can get expensive.

An aside – while doing research for this column, I checked out the KKK’s website – it looks like it was made by an 8th grader in 1997. Apparently, they hate black people, Jews, and HTML.

No one in the bar knew who I was, so my friends and I swapped positions on the show. I went on first and did ten ad-libbed minutes about growing up a patriotic, Christian American. I am proud to be Jewish, sure – but I am also proud of the Jewish people’s inherent ability to survive. That night, it was my turn.

I happily returned to Manhattan in one piece. I’m not saying we’re immune to anti-Semitism in New York; At some point Mel Gibson will star in an Oliver Stone movie here. But I do recognize that I am spoiled by just how easy it is for New Yorkers to find everything from a synagogue to a Kosher Deli to a Jewish wife.

I am continually impressed by the resolve of Jews in smaller cities, where it’s not as easy to be Jewish. So for those of you who don’t have the luxury of an apartment complex littered with mezuzahs, stay strong. And make sure to check if they put bacon on your ice cream.

Steve Hofstetter is an internationally touring comedian who has been VH1, ESPN, and Comedy Central. To find out how to book him at your next event, visit SteveHofstetter.com. This column was originally published on jdate.com.