Making connections in a big city can be difficult, but matchmakers Beth Friedman and Jenna Shulman are bringing dating back to the basics in the hope of helping Jewish Atlantans find love.
The Jewish matchmaking program that Shulman and Friedman started as a side project, juLuv, has grown to a database of 580 people ages 19 to 77 and has produced 12 successful matches, which Shulman counts as a long-term relationship or a marriage.
Two couples introduced by juLuv had babies the past two months.
“We started a few years ago out of a common, shared love for matchmaking and figuring out that there are so many single people in the community who didn’t want to necessarily always rely on social events to meet people,” Shulman said. “What we tell people is don’t let juLuv stop you from anything else. In other words, this should be one of many things you’re doing to meet people. So put yourself out there in a number of places, including juLuv.”
The process is simple. Go to www.juluv.com and fill out a confidential form that includes age, where you live, your level of Jewish practice, potential deal-breakers and types of activities you enjoy. What happens next depends on the package you choose.
JuLuv offers two options. The free guest option adds you to the database. The $475 client option provides an individual meeting with Friedman and a guarantee of three dates in three months.
Originally, juLuv did not have a premium option, but Friedman and Shulman had so much interest that they decided to add it to provide the chance for a personalized experience.
“This is not a business. This is just two girls doing it as a mitzvah because it’s something we enjoy,” Shulman said. “A lot of times we have people wondering about why we haven’t matched them with someone, so we added a premium option.”
Matches are made by Shulman and Friedman based on a number of factors, including level of observance, age and appearance.
“If I match up an Orthodox person with a Reform person, it’s probably not going to go well,” Shulman said.
“This is what we do instead of playing tennis,” she added. “I didn’t give up my job to do this, but, having said that, we’ve had a number of awesome successes.”
Shulman, who has been the CEO of the Jewish Educational Loan Fund since 2014, said she has learned a lot since she and Friedman launched juLuv in 2013.
For starters, Shulman said both men and women can be too picky.
“My biggest lesson that I’ve learned through this whole thing is if everybody could move a tier down on their pickiness level, we would all be in so much better shape,” she said. “Everyone is so picky to the point they don’t want to give someone a chance because of one thing. Life just doesn’t work that way.”
Shulman said that when she was dating, she told herself she had four things she valued in a relationship. The man she ended up marrying had none of those things.
“I dropped my barriers at the end of the day,” she said.
In February juLuv hosted a speed-dating event to coincide with Valentine’s Day. Although the event was well attended, Shulman and Friedman have decided not to rely on events in the future.
Shulman also understands that people are hesitant to promote the fact they met significant others using juLuv. She recently asked the two couples who had babies after meeting on juLuv whether she could share their story, but they declined.
“People get embarrassed,” she said. “Maybe people want to have a better story in life. Couples crave to have their own fun, organic story. I think it’s similar with dating apps. I just don’t think people consider those very sexy ways to meet people these days.”
Regardless of any social stigma, juLuv is providing an alternative to the impersonal world of dating apps, as many singles are looking for something different. Shulman said that’s good enough for her.