Compiled by Amanda Koehn
Finding a date in person may seem like a blast from the past. As dating apps and connecting on social media grow in prevalence, approaching potential dates in person – or knowing where to go to meet other single folks – can seem daunting. And regardless of how you meet, you have to find a first date spot that’s an appropriate mix of cool and low pressure. It can be difficult to make the whole concept fun.
This season, Jstyle challenges you to get off the warm couch, take your eyes off your phone and meet people in the wild. And perhaps try a date somewhere new.
For our 2019 Singles Issue, we’ve handpicked the top spots to meet other Jewish Clevelanders, compiled date ideas and more. Whether you are single or not – all the spots and events can be visited with a partner or friend, or solo – we’re hoping this list inspires you to be social and try something new.
Meet (in real life)
Jstyle’s picks for meeting Jewish Clevelanders
Jewish Federation of Cleveland gatherings
The Jewish Federation of Cleveland offers opportunities to get involved in Jewish communal life, whether volunteering, attending a lecture or celebrating a holiday or initiative. Its Young Leadership Division, which targets Clevelanders between the ages of 21 and 45, holds volunteer and social events around the city throughout the year. To get involved and start meeting folks with similar interests, visit jewishcleveland.org/involved/yld.
MIX at CMA
The Cleveland Museum of Art hosts monthly themed mixers focusing on an aspect of the museum. They also include music, talks, drinks, food and more. For more information, visit clevelandart.org/going-events.
Local Jewish and secular nonprofit organizations are always in need of volunteers, and giving back could be just the place to meet new people with similar interests. Even if not, it’s a great way to keep busy while improving our community. For organizations, visit bit.ly/SOURCE2019.
Cleveland Museum of Natural History Think & Drink
On the third Thursday of each month, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History holds brainy nights out at the museum. The “Think & Drink with the Extinct” events include themed experiences – such as prehistoric life or the science of the future – drinks and more. More information is at cmnh.org.
Synagogue and Jewish young professional groups
Area synagogues and other young professional groups hold social events, often not requiring attendees to be members. Just a sample:
• ATID: B’nai Jeshurun Congregation’s 20s and 30s social group. More information at facebook.com/groups/AtidBnaiJeshurun.
• Fairmount Young Professionals: Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple’s group to connect Jewish young professionals. More information at facebook.com/fairmountyp.
• JCLE: Social group for Jewish 20-somethings run by Cleveland Hillel. The group aims to create meaningful community interactions through social, educational, cultural, community service and religious programs. More information at facebook.com/jclecity.
• MoHo CLE: Moishe House Cleveland in downtown Cleveland houses three Jewish Clevelanders who use their space and connections to host small community events for other young adult Jews. The group hosts brunches, Shabbat dinners, outdoor activities and more. More information at facebook.com/mohocle.
• Young Mensches: Young professionals 20s and 30s group at Park Synagogue. More information at bit.ly/2OGfQiy.
• Cleveland Hillel: The organization provides Jewish community resources and connections for students attending 11 colleges and universities in the Cleveland area. More information at clevelandhillel.org.
Jstyle’s picks for a fun, activity-based date
Looking for musical entertainment that sparks conversation, and perhaps singing? The Big Bang Dueling Pianos bar in Cleveland’s Flats East Bank has continuous live music in the form of piano playing and audience participation. Request songs or simply listen and chill. At the very least, you and your date might be spurred to discuss your tastes in pop music.
For cat lovers
Have a mutual love for cats? Continue to bond over it by considering affoGATO Cat Cafe in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood. There, you can get a coffee drink and then spend an hour hanging out with up to 16 cute cats. Reservations can be made in advance, and whether or not the date goes well, you could end up taking a cat home – all the cats at the cafe are adoptable, via a partnership with the Cleveland Animal Protective League.
Visit the Cleveland Flea’s mini market at Shaker Heights’ Van Aken District this season for a shopping date. Local artisans are sure to have interesting items that speak to you and your date’s tastes (which hopefully overlap at least slightly). An array of food and drink options are also sure to keep you entertained.
Take advantage of Cleveland’s rich museum scene. Visit one or several of the museums near Cleveland’s University Circle, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Museum of Contemporary Art and Cleveland History Center. Or, head to Beachwood to visit the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage for a great chance to learn and discuss your Jewish heritage – a perfect segue into an early conversation about your family and values.
Literacy is hot
Can’t decide between a date at a brewery and the library? Probably not a serious question, but don’t discount opportunities to check your compatibility when it comes to your favorite books. Bookhouse Brewing in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood boasts not only conversation-worthy beers (including non-alcoholic options), but a free library. All books are free, but Bookhouse asks that you donate at least one book in place of each you take home. The brewery also offers trivia night, spoken word open mics, craft events, beer releases, seasonal celebrations, meet ups, charity nights and more, according to its website.
Want more flexibility – perhaps coffee or drinks, and seeing where it goes? Pinecrest in Orange and the Van Aken District in Shaker Heights both offer a range of eating, drinking and shopping centered activities. Consider choosing such a location for a date and see how many different activities it leads to.
If somehow you stumble upon a nice enough day for an outside date this winter, consider some of Northeast Ohio’s nicest parks and walking spots, like along Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens or Shaker Lakes. For an outing resembling more of a hike, visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Rocky River Reservation or any of the Cleveland Metroparks. It’s a free way to get some steps in, enjoy nature and share stories with someone new.
A tour with tastes
Great Lakes Brewing Co. offers tours Friday and Saturday afternoons to evenings, detailing the brewing process. The tour of the Ohio City brewery includes beer samples to compare your palates, and of course you can stay for drinks and dinner after.
Get a sample of Cleveland’s arts and cultural scene. 78th Street Studios in Cleveland holds its free Third Fridays art walk monthly, featuring more than 50 venues with new art exhibitions, music, food, pop-up vendors and more. Another option is Walk All Over Waterloo, a first Friday monthly art walk in the Waterloo Arts District, also in Cleveland; or, Walkabout Tremont, which showcases the Tremont neighborhood’s galleries, shops, restaurants, performances and more on the second Friday of every month. Combine those events with the other many arts offerings of Northeast Ohio, and you’ll have at least one such date option each week.
JSwipe study: What single Jews are looking for
About four out of five users of the JSwipe Jewish dating app say
marrying someone Jewish is important and consider Jewish identity personally important.
That’s according to the 2019 JSwipe Love Study, which surveyed 4,000 of its users across ages and denominations this February. The survey divides responses into three sections: “the state of Jewish,” “the state of dating” and “the state of Jewish dating.”
Why is it important to marry someone Jewish? The top response was wanting Jewish family/kids, followed by tradition/culture/community, then shared interests/values.
Here are some of the other most notable findings:
• Half surveyed say they feel pressured to get married – and women (59%) more so than men (43%). And 81% want a Jewish wedding.
• Overall, 71% of users surveyed say they are looking for marriage, while 69% indicated a monogamous relationship, 45% companionship, 31% something casual and 9% an open relationship (they selected all that applied).
• Generally, 57% are unsatisfied in their current dating experience. Their favorite part? Forty-six percent say getting to know someone new. Least favorite? One fifth say efforts to find someone, repetition and wasting time.
• As far as trends in modern dating, the respondents indicate foremost, challenges of apps and texting (28%), followed by casual encounters (19%), fear of commitment (13%), paradox of choice (10%) and ghosting (10%).
• Deal breakers? Bad character/rudeness, smoking/drugs/alcohol, lack of attraction and not religiously compatible.
To view the entire study, visit jswipelovestudy.com/request.
Looking for a chance to dress up in cocktail attire for a night of seasonal drinks, food, films, music and dancing? The Winter Jubilee party will be held from 7 p.m. to midnight Dec. 24 at The Fairmount in Cleveland Heights. The event, sponsored by Fairmount Young Professionals, takes place on the second night of Chanukah and the menorah will be lit at 8.
General admission is $30, which includes a drink ticket and hors d’oeuvres (kosher style, dairy). More information and tickets at bit.ly/2D6RTvo.
Jstyle is a partner on the event.
Jstyle singles’ top spot
Each year for our Singles issue, we ask the singles to list their favorite spots to get dinner and drinks – with both the intention of getting them to explain their personal taste in the Cleveland food/drink scene and to provide ideas for our readers. The top dinner/drink choice over the last five years? The Fairmount in Cleveland Heights.
Apparently, they are not alone in that selection. Mike Hrvatin, general manager at The Fairmount, says he hears from people who either are on dates at the Fairmount, or met there, “all the time.”
“A lot of singles meet each other here,” he says. “Whether it’s one of our private events that we do – like mixers … (or) I think a lot of people will come here and grab a beer or wine, or some food. And a lot of people seem to meet each other here one way or another,” although he admits, “I’m not exactly sure how that works.”
With an always fun and diverse food and cocktail menu, including seasonal and trendy favorites, Hrvatin says the bar-restaurant combination, and the not overly fancy – yet not a dive bar – vibe contributes to the appeal. There’s also a fireplace that attracts coziness seekers in the winter, and a “pretty deluxe patio” people flock to in the summer.
Hrvatin credits owner Jake Orosz for his vision that makes the space special, as well as for deciding to stay open until 2 a.m. every night.
“We have a pretty fun and diverse later night crowd, as well as happy hour,” Hrvatin says, adding the kitchen is also open until 2.
Tips for visiting the Fairmount on a first date – or hoping to find a first date?
“I would say come with your friends and have fun,” he says. “Or if you are just looking for a solo date, maybe not take anything too seriously and just come hang out, have a drink and enjoy yourself.”