Let’s face it, online dating can be exhausting. After work, do you find yourself blurry-eyed, scrolling through hundreds of profiles? I’ve been there, drafting notes to potential suitors and hoping for overnight romance. After an often-awkward telephone date, it’s time to meet. But you wonder: Will this guy even look like his photo?
Here’s the good news: You can take a break from all that online dating, thanks to the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay, which has launched Smooth Monday.
One Monday a month, East Bay Jews — 21 to 40 years old — shmooze over drinks and vegetarian hors d’oeuvres at a local bar. The event marks its one-year anniversary this month.
It’s 7 p.m. and I’m one of the first guests to wander out of the rain and into my first Smooth Monday at Temple Bar on University Avenue in Berkeley. It’s welcoming to leave the cold and come into this tiki paradise with hula dancers, bamboo and everything Hawaii.
The cute, pixie-ish 20-something Tova Grunes — who’s the East Bay federation’s Young Leadership Division director and Smooth Monday organizer — greets me.
“It isn’t meat-markety here,” she says. “Smooth Mondays have turned into the new up-and-coming events for young Jews in the East Bay, where there has never really been anything like this before.”
When I turn around, the place is filling up fast: within half an hour, there are 50 singles mingling about. Hear this, young single Jewish women: There are twice as many men as women here! I’m not kidding.
I sit down with a glass of white wine, when Joshua Klein, 24, turns to me and says, “I’m the most eligible bachelor in the East Bay.”
(Is he? I wonder, but don’t ask.)
“I’m sorry,” I say, “but I’m a whole decade older than you.”
“Oh, snap!” he says.
(I think: Isn’t that line from the “Chicken Little” movie I recently took my 5-year-old daughter to see recently?)
Now that I take a closer look, most of the guys here look like they’re in their mid-20s. When I mention that I have a kid to a couple of men, they look at me in shock.
All the same, Klein appears to be a good guy, even if he is too young for me. He works with Grunes as the social action chair at the Young Leadership Division, and tells me how important tzedakah is.
But soon, Klein is chatting with a male friend about the recent trip they took to Israel together, and I begin to wonder why these guys are not getting up and introducing themselves to all of the attractive, available women who are here.
Are young Jewish men around here really that shy? Why don’t these fellows just get up and mingle?
“It’s not easy to make connections in the East Bay because the Jewish community is so spread out,” says J.B. Leibovitch, Young Leadership Division outreach vice president. (Who, I find out later, is married and the father of two beautiful children, but he seems to take his role with Smooth Monday very seriously.)
“At Smooth Monday, we hope to introduce young Jewish adults to each other and to parts of our Jewish community that can be hard to find,” he adds.
As I wander over to the vegetarian hors d’oeuvres, I feel like I could be in a friend’s living room. It’s that cozy. Maybe Grunes is right: Smooth Monday is not so meat-markety, considering that this is a bar.
“It’s great not to have to shlep over to San Francisco for Jewish young adult programs,” Leah Greenblat, Smooth Monday committee member, tells me later when I ask why she’s a regular. “I love the idea of an active, young, Jewish community right where I live.”
Adds Grunes, “We are all so busy in our lives, but taking a Monday night to come out and see your friends, and shmooze with people who know the word shmooze, is just wonderful. You never know who you’re going to meet and connect with when you come out to a Smooth Monday.”
I did shmooze, that’s for certain. Although this crowd was too young for a 30-something single mom like me, it might be just the thing for you.