On-line dating won’t hit shadachim

August 04, 2000

AN AMERICAN journalist cynically told me, 20 years ago, when I complained that everything he had written about me was wrong, from my age to the way I spelled my name: ”Hey, you know everything you read in the papers is 100 per cent true and accurate.

”That’s why you believe it. Unless . . . unless it’s about you or someone you know. Then it’s all wrong.”

So I reached for the phone when I read at the weekend that the Jewish Telegraph was refusing to publish adverts for totallyjewish.com.

I wanted to hear it from the editor before I believed anything.

And then I called the editor at totallyjewish.com, David Garfinkel, since he had approached me a couple of weeks earlier to provide a Mindpower feature on the website.

I drew an ornate Star of David, which site-users can touch as a focus for their meditations.

The aspect of the website which has put the Sunday papers in a lather is not its coverage of Jewish spirituality, nor Jewish cuisine. It’s something earthier than that — Jewish dating. Jewish sex.

The site has launched a matchmaking service, an online dating agency where wannabe lovers can leave their nicknames and contact details, along with a few tantalising glimpses of personal information.

Bubbly Brunette from the north-west, for instance, is 29 and likes a man to be a man. She also likes the simple things in life — like dumb-but-masculine men.

Max, a Sagittarian with a degree and no children, is probably not the guy she’s looking for. He’s a ”radical, mystical groove rider who’s a shopaholic and chocaholic. A worshipper of aesthetics . . . up for anything that gets me dancing”.

He’s looking for ”a super-fly rear-grooves funk-soul chick, of mind-blowing beauty and intelligence”.

And he may get lucky, for already there are 119 women registered at the site — with 197 men chasing them.

The homosexuals have got less chance — one lesbian, two gay men and, on the page for bisexuals, no one at all. Totallyjewish is also, apparently, totallystraight.

My regular readers must have noticed that most weeks I am perched on top of the match-hunting singles. I have no problem with this, especially since the whole of my career has been based on teaching people they can have everything their heart desires, if only they will be positive and optimistic and believe in their own power.

What could be more empowering than to put an ad in this paper or on the internet, appealing for friendship and love? If you don’t ask, you will never get!

Jewish Telegraph editor, Paul Harris, tells me that what offended him about the website’s ads was not the service it offered but the near-nude images of two Barbie dolls and the copyline: ”Get your juices going”.

The site is certainly raunchy — as well as a soap opera following two daters from first emails to pillow-talk, there’s a regular advice slot from Garfinkel about sexual technique.

Women are told to get to grips with their date’s ‘pepperpot’ in restaurants where the food is bad and the service is worse. There’s a Ken-and-Barbie cartoon which makes the meaning of the euphemism quite clear.

Online dating, supposedly, is offending ”rabbis and community leaders”. The traditional Jewish mother is reported to be incensed as well.

If I didn’t know better, I might imagine this was 100 per cent true and accurate . . . but I know it for the nonsense it is.

Jewish culture is deep enough and robust enough to adapt to new technologies. The rise of lonely hearts columns and online dating won’t kill the old ways of matchmaking —but it will help many people who might have been left behind in the traditional methods.

I was thinking about this as I drove home from the QVC television studios on Friday night. My jewellery collection had been launched and, on my first appearance to promote it, every single piece sold out. In a 60-minute slot, we generated tens of thousands of pounds in sales.

I was staggered. The jewellery is stunningly beautiful — three rings, a bracelets and two necklaces, plus a pair of ear-rings and a pendant. All of it features rock crystal, the stone which I believe powers my psychic energies and can work mystical wonders even in lumps of insensate machinery.

But I had not expected it to sell out. I arrived home to emails pleading for stock from my own safe, including a charming message from a Jewish lady in London who wished me kol tov and Shabbat shalom, and said: ”I have been unable to get one ring in particular out of my mind with a spherical, rotating crystal in it.”

That piece is my favourite too. I spent months designing this collection, making hundreds of drawings on paper, assisted by David Kovacs — one of three Hungarian brothers whose father set up their jewellery business. Kovacs recommended a brilliant Italian company, and I insisted on using only Brazilian crystal, and on Friday I saw the fruits of my labour and the culmination of a 30-year dream.

Selling jewellery on TV will not spell ruin for traditional Jewish jewellers. I will still be able to find kosher food on every corner off Hatton Garden.

The businessmen there will still settle deals with a handshake which means more than a sheaf of signed papers.

And mothers will still gaze away innocently as they nudge their sons and daughters towards each other. Our heritage is as old as our history. We have no need to fear new twists.

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