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Labe Eden, a committee member at Presen Tense who has attended a few Shabbatness dinners, says he was struck by Davis and her idea from the get go. The idea could seem old school—but each dinner has its own special twist.
He explains it as a more wholesome experience than dating at a bar. One dinner was called Bourbon and Beatbox, where contestant and special guest Jay Stone beatboxed the Shema, a prayer from the Torah.
“The studies disturb me, and there are small things to do to keep the tradition alive but make it our own,” she says.
And the recent rise of anti-Semitism across Europe is especially troubling to her, even thought it’s not prevalent in New York.
Aside from Davis’ Shabbat model, there are others trying to reinvent the process.
Train Spottings uses matchmakers, known as ‘conductors,’ who scope the New York City Subway scene for singles to match with clients.
Davis incorporates bits of tradition into each dinner she hosts, whether it’s a group of modern Orthodox Jews or, what’s more common, a group of Secular ones.She started hosting at least one Shabbat dinner a month in 2013.“I felt there was a void in the Jewish community of Shabbat dinners in intimate homes,” she says.I’m sitting in a Manhattan apartment watching the sun set with 11 of New York’s most eligible Jewish singles.It’s Friday night and the table is a traditional Shabbat setting—a Kiddush cup filled with red wine, freshly-blessed candles and challah bread that’s been ripped apart and passed around the table.