The 8 finalists

Drum roll please………………………

It is with great pleasure that I present to you — the Jews of the world (and the gentiles who oddly surf around on Jewish websites) — this year’s eight finalists:

Ben jumping higher than I can... And doing something magical...




These finalists will enter the second round (and final) of the competition to do battle in a caged match interview with the man, the myth, the maniac…  … … me.

Yes, that’s right, we’re taking the second round out of the hands of the voting public (democracy is overrated) and putting it into the hands of some very wise judges who will watch the video clips of the interviews I conduct with these 8 exemplars of the greatness that is the Jewish DC young adult community.

Stay tuned for these videos and our eventual Jewish Guy and Girl of the Year victors.

In the meantime, go to these pages (GuysGirls) to take another look at all of our amazing contestants.  And check out some of their added material for the contest (for instance, did you know that Dan killed Gumby or that Rossella made an amazing 10 point list?)





In Defense of “Creepy Spreadsheet Guy” – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (week 36)

The internet moves fast, doesn’t it?  In the course of several days, a guy goes on a date from, thinks there’s potential for a second date, and then gets publicly humiliated, hereby being named “Creepy Spreadsheet Guy.”  Click here for the full story.

Honestly, I feel badly for him.  Before I started A Little Nudge, most of you know that I did online dating myself for many years and kept a… wait for it… spreadsheet.  Granted, it was not as detailed as his, but there is certainly merit to staying organized.  (And, like him, my background is in finance/econ, so when you have a tool like Excel, why not use it?)

His only mistake (and, granted, he used extremely poor judgment!) was sending it out.  But sometimes when guys like girls (and when girls like guys, for that matter), they do dumb things.  Perhaps in his mind he thought the girl would be flattered since he only had positive things to say about her, and after one date, he trusted her – a huge mistake.  It was the girl, in my opinion, who is in the wrong for sending it to her friends.  Ok, she didn’t like him, but did she have to humiliate him?  When you put something in writing, there’s no telling how far it can go.

To this day, I still have my JDate spreadsheet from when I was dating.  And I gave italics to anyone I wanted to see again, Jeremy getting the coveted last set of italics.  And now I keep spreadsheets for all my clients.  Would I want them to be embarrassed by e-mailing the same person twice?  Nope.  There’s merit in the spreadsheet, and I’ll go on record saying that.  But to this day, I have never shown anyone that spreadsheet… and I think I’ll keep it that way.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.






Unite with Yachad to Help the Community

Last week, a group of DC’s young professionals set out to make this Mother’s Day life-changing for two Washington, DC moms.  Yachad (which means “together” in Hebrew), a DC non-profit that builds bridges by building communities, launched their first ever young professional network, Yachad United.

“Yachad United is a group of DC’s young professionals looking for an alternative way to network,” says Jason Kastner, Yachad Board member and co-founder of Yachad United.  “We won’t just be meeting people at a happy hour, but getting to know people as we go out into our community, roll up our sleeves, and work together with neighbors who need our help.”

As the new members of Yachad United learned at the launch party, this Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 13th) they will help a family in the Trinidad neighborhood rehabilitate their home.  Yachad Uniters, as they are called, will help to fundraise at least $2,500 to cover the cost of the repairs to the home (including flooring, painting, drywall and plumbing).  The repair work would cost closer to $8,000, but Yachad uses volunteer labor and partnerships with local contractors to stretch the  donations exponentially.  Once the goal is met (Yachad Uniters will be split into teams — Singles and Couples — to compete for the most collected donations), they will meet on May 13th, supervised by a Yachad Construction Manager, and do the hands-on repairs side by side with the family.  After the repairs are done, they will all go out to a local H Street bar and celebrate.  The winning fundraising team will enjoy a donated keg.

The family being assisted consists of the homeowner, a fifty-seven-year-old woman who has lived in the house for 30 years, her adult daughter, and her nine-year-old grandson.  Both women work but have found it impossible to keep up on all of the older house’s needs. This is a common issue for many homeowners in DC, and something that Yachad works year-round to address.

If you would like to join Yachad United, you can contact Kendra Rubinfeld at


Why I Want to Be A Matchmaker For The GTJ Jewish Girls and Guys of the Week (And their Friends):

One of my favorite features of the GTJ site is the Girls & Guys of the week. It’s fun to read about what makes people of our generation tick (and the pictures of good-looking Jewish men are a bonus) but I think what makes me smile the most is hearing about the ways everyone is contributing to our community.  To me, the characteristic of wanting to make a difference in the community is the ultimate turn-on.

Which brings me to the title of this article, why I want to be matchmaker for Girls/Guys of the week (and their friends).

Now I know not all of these talented people of the week are single, but the ones who are should listen up. And so should their friends…..

As a former GTJ girl of the week and former ALMOST GTJ girl of the year, I too want to make the Greater Washington area just that more amazing. This week especially has been a great time for me to reflect on how the young professional DC Jewish community has grown exponentially in the past year and how many amazing individuals I have met through my involvement in it. I think that most guys and girls of the week probably feel the same way about the community and their friends in it.

One of the projects I have been working on this year is creating more of a buzz in the Jewish young professional Northern Virginia community and providing events that are held beyond the city.

Next Wednesday April 18th my organization, NOVA Tribe Series, is hosting a speed dating  event benefiting the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes and Homestretch Inc. (this the part where the playing matchmaker to all the guy and girls of the week and their friends comes in.)  You can register here and also have the option to not speed date and just attend our happy hour by using the promo code FRIEND

Can’t make it then? On April 29th we are having Sunday Funday and holding The Big Schlep Scavenger Hunt. Grab your friends, form a team or we will make one for you! Good luck to you all that are in the girl/guy of the year contest…don’t let the Jewish trivia round stump you if they throw it in again this year!


Stacy is a proud ALMOST Jewish girl of the year who is happy to play match-maker anytime. You can reach her at or check out her organization’s website:



Ridiculous Deal Breakers. Part 2 – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (week 35)

I actually overheard this conversation recently when I was on the Metro, and it inspired me to write another article about ridiculous deal breakers.  (In case you missed the first, feel free to read it here.)

Friend 1: I think I found a guy for you.  He’s cute, smart, tall, and has a dog.

Friend 2: What kind of dog?

Friend 1: A miniature schnauzer I think.

Friend 2: Are you serious?  What kind of guy has a small dog?  No thanks.

When it comes to dating, especially online dating, people invent lists of “deal breakers” that may sound like nothing individually, but when you add them all together, no one stands a chance of making the cut.  When Gestalt said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, who knew that he was talking about people’s dating laundry lists?

I thought back to the days when I was having four or five dates a week (I was a woman on a mission), and some of my deal breakers were:

  • Not intellectual enough
  • Didn’t pay for me on the first date
  • Not Jewish
  • Was rude to the waitstaff (or someone else)

But if you’ve ever noticed yourself saying things like those in the list below, then maybe it’s time to reassess what’s important to you:

  • “He got this gross pimple on his face that I can’t stand to look at.”
  • “I can’t believe she has a cat… she must be a cat lady.”
  • “He doesn’t like chocolate ice cream?  What is that?!”
  • “She writes love poems on the fridge with her magnetic poetry.  She must be some kind of nut.”
  • “OMG – he wore a flannel shirt on our date.  That was so 1995.”
  • “She paints her nails with sparkles and flowers.  This just won’t work.”  (It’s a good thing Jeremy didn’t have this ridiculous deal breaker because we wouldn’t have lasted.  I love a good nail flower.)

When we read them, they sound pretty silly, right?  But people say things like this every day.  These “deal breakers” are the things that make people quirky and unique.

As I mentioned last time, while I may not be as blunt as Patti Stanger (thank goodness for that), I do agree with her rationale that you should narrow your list down to five or fewer non-negotiables and stick with it.  If you really want to put, “I don’t want to date a vegetarian,” on the list, then that’s okay, but limit the others to four things so that the person you’re looking for may actually exist in real life.  Remember, chemistry is the “wild card,” so list or no list, these deal breakers may go out the window when you feel a connection with someone.

So the next time you want to nix someone because he has a small dog, or she has a fondness for sparkles, remember – if it’s not on the list, give it a chance.  That one thing you thought you didn’t want may end up being your favorite part of the person.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.


The President (and our neighbor) wishes us a Happy Passover


GTJ: The Next Episode

Traditional Judaism sees time as a spiral:  what happens at one period in the Jewish calendar is connected to what happened during the same period 100 or 1,000 years ago.

Gather the Jews (GTJ) has fit this model pretty well.

During the ancient time of Purim, Esther told Mordechai, “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Shushan, and fast for me.”  It was during Purim (March) 2010 that we launched Gather the Jews and similarly started gathering Jews (though not fasting).

Rosh Hashanah celebrates the Jewish New Year.  Around the time of Rosh Hashanah 2010, GTJ celebrated a new website.

Now we’re celebrating Passover — a time of transition and change for the Israelites who would become the first Jews.

And so it’s similarly time for GTJ to have a “passing-over” of our own.

I will be leaving Washington, DC this summer and Aaron (The WOLFf) will be taking on new, non-directly-Jewish projects.  This will take both of us out of the day-to-day GTJ game.

Our departure, however, will not be the end of GTJ.  It will simply require a new model.  We’re in the process of exploring which model is best, but, because this has been, and will continue to be, a community project, we want to open it up to the community to let you know what we’re thinking.  And we want your advice.

Two ways forward for GTJ:

  1. Keep GTJ independent by establishing a Board of Directors and raising the necessary funds to pay one full-time staff member.
  2. Become part of an existing DC Jewish organization.
For more information on these two ideas, please see this document.


If you have any ideas or suggestions, or if you know anybody who would really like to see GTJ continue to gather, please email me at


This isn’t quite yet our swan song — I plan to be out of here by mid-July or early August — but I did want to take a second to let you know or ideas and to thank you for your support over these past 110 weeks — it has been a blast to run GTJ.


Stephen Richer
Gather the Jews




The Mediocrity of the Tenth Plague

Yet another way to get out of plague 10.

This opinion piece appeared in the Washington Jewish Week last week.

Stephen Richer is the President of Gather the Jews. 


No Biblical story can compete with The Ten Plagues of Passover.  God pulls out virtually every trump card: water-into-blood, hail, locusts, etc.  But like all good performers, God knew that he needed to close his performance with his biggest bang:  The Death of the First Born.

There’s just one problem: the Tenth Plague is highly underwhelming.  Close examination shows that though the Tenth Plague is impressive in terms of glitz and glamor (there’s a reason why Indiana Jones incorporated the Angel of Death), it falls short on actual death and destruction.

Here’s the text of the Tenth Plague:

“This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt.  Every firstborn in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well.” (Exodus 11:1–12:36)

Let’s dig deeper.  Namely, let’s consider:  1) Infant mortality, 2) Childhood mortality, 3) The number of children per family, and 4) The coverage of the plague.  Finally, let’s compare the Tenth Plague with a different, all-encompassing, plague.

Historical statistics before the year 600 BCE are scant and somewhat unreliable, but estimations do exist.  One such estimation is the rate of infant mortality.  According to the academic article “Pregnancy and Childbirth,” “Pregnancy, childbirth, and infancy were the three most dangerous times in [Ancient Egypt].”  Other studies put infant mortality in the ancient world between 33 and 50 percent.  Things in Egypt were even worse because of the absence of midwives (the Ancient Egyptian language lacked a term for “midwife”).  All told, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to guess that 45 percent of all Ancient Egyptians died at infancy.

Even beyond infancy, the life of the average first born Ancient Egyptian was precarious.  Malnutrition plagued most ancient societies, and the uncleanliness of the Nile River – Ancient Egypt’s main water source – bred swarms of diseases.  Finally, it wasn’t only the Israelites who did hard labor – most Ancient Egyptians also worked slave-like jobs that were not conducive to longevity.

Together, points one and two lead to the estimation that the average Ancient Egyptian firstborn had a less than 40 percent chance of living past age six.  Accordingly, he or she likely wouldn’t have been around for the tragedy of the Tenth Plague.

The third point addresses the comparative value of the average first born child.  Seen in today’s terms, the loss is much more tragic – the average American family has just over two children, and almost none die at childbirth.  That’s 50 percent of children lost.  But most historical estimates show us that Ancient Egyptian families were large.  Very large.  Even bigger than today’s Mormon and Orthodox Jewish families – seven or eight children on average.  The prolific nature of Ancient Egyptians resulted both form circumstance: effective birth control did not exist, and by design: parents recognized children as the day’s Social Security.  But regardless of cause, the large number of children serves to dilute the importance of the first born child.

Finally, the extent of the Tenth Plague is not as broad as initially imagined.  Pharaoh is a first born child, and yet he is not struck down by the Angel of Death.  This has led some Torah students to conclude that firstborns are exempt from the Tenth Plague upon starting their own families.  Considering most Ancient Egyptians started their own families in their early teen years, this limits the window of the Angel’s opportunity for death and destruction.

To summarize the argument at this point, we have established that 1) Firstborn children were likely already dead at the time of the Tenth Plague, 2) Firstborn children, if still alive, accounted for only a small fraction of a total family, and 3) Firstborn children were exempt from the Tenth Plague upon starting their own family, something that happened fairly quickly.

See in this light, the potency of the Tenth Plague is severely limited.  In fact, it now pales in comparison to a plague that affected all Egyptians equally.  Take, for instance, locusts (plague eight):

“The locusts ascended over the entire land of Egypt, and they alighted within all the border[s] of Egypt, very severe; before them, there was never such a locust [plague], and after it, there will never be one like it.  They obscured the view of all the earth, and the earth became darkened, and they ate all the vegetation of the earth and all the fruits of the trees, which the hail had left over, and no greenery was left in the trees or in the vegetation of the field[s] throughout the entire land of Egypt.” (Exodus 14:14 – 14:15)

Not only did these locusts destroy all crops; they also likely carried fatal diseases that couldn’t be countered by Ancient Egypt’s primitive medicines.  Any disease that was born from the locusts would know of no artificial limitations pertaining to birth order.

So what happened?  Did God play his Ace of Spades too soon and only have a Jack left for his tenth play?  Or did he simply know that we Hollywood suckers would really love a swift spirit with a formidable name and good visual effects?




Quinoa Pilaf for Passover

Quinoa is one of those superfoods that has been getting a lot of attention recently.  But I will admit that I was a latecomer to the quinoa bandwagon.  I really wanted to like it, but every time I tried it, I found it bitter and/or grassy-tasting.  Then I decided to host a dinner during Passover last year, and The New York Times Food Section ran a big story about the general (though, admittedly, not universal) consensus that this South American grain most people hadn’t even heard of until recently is, in fact, kosher for Passover.  I resolved to conquer quinoa—if I couldn’t make it taste good, there would just be one less superfood in my world.  So, I bought pre-rinsed quinoa then rinsed it a few more times, to wash off the natural residue that makes it bitter.  And I cooked it in stock and with other flavorful ingredients to give it a more robust flavor.  A few other add-ins, and I had a great Passover side dish (or protein-rich main dish for vegetarians) that even a quinoa skeptic like me enjoyed.

Saffron Quinoa Pilaf

© Courtney Weiner.  All Rights Reserved.

Total time: 20 min.

Yield: 4 servings

Level: Easy


  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa, pre-rinsed then well-rinsed again
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • ¼ tsp saffron threads, lightly crushed
  • ¼ cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries (may substitute other dried fruit)
  • Salt to taste


Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a 1 ½ quart pot.  Add shallot and sauté until translucent, 1-2 minutes.  Add in quinoa and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in stock and saffron and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, until all stock is absorbed.  Fluff quinoa with fork and salt to taste.  Stir in almond and cranberries.


A Game of Pick-up Check – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (week 34)

You know the scenario well: The check comes.  No one moves.  You look at each other.  You smile.  The check sits there.  This, my friends, is what we call a little game of “pick-up check.”

The question is: Should a woman offer to split the bill on the first date?

Notice that the question isn’t: Should a man pay on a first date?  The answer to this should be an unequivocal “yes.”  While I’m a huge advocate for women e-mailing men on online dating sites, and I’ll even dare to say that a woman should suggest meeting for a drink if the guy is trying to have an e-lationship, I am a stickler for the old-fashioned tenet that the man should pay on the first date.  That said, should the woman at least offer to pay?

When the bill comes, the woman has a few choices:

  1. The “reach” (going for her wallet to see what happens)
  2. The offer (saying “May I contribute?” or something similar), or
  3. The assumption (just saying “Thank you so much!”)

Given that the date should only consist of a drink or coffee (no dinner on a first online date) and should not be too expensive, I’d actually opt for #3.  It avoids the awkwardness, and you get to show your gratitude immediately.  #2 is a close second.  Just hope he doesn’t take you up on it!

Men, generally when women offer to pay on the first date, we don’t want you to take us up on it.  Even if we know there won’t be a second date and feel guilty for taking the free drink, deep down we still hope that you’ll pay because it’s still a date after all.  The last thing you want is to accept our payment offer and then be labeled as “cheap.”  Yes – she offered, but when it comes to paying on a first date, yes almost always means no.

I had one particularly memorable experience with the “pick-up check” game, and I’ll tell you off the bat that the results weren’t good.  The scene: A JDate at Tryst.  We planned to meet at 3:00 for coffee on a Sunday afternoon.  When I got there, I saw a guy who looked vaguely like the guy I was expecting, but he was deep in thought on his laptop, and he was drinking a nearly-finished coffee.  Was this my date?  I went over to him and asked, “Are you Jason*?”  It was, in fact, Jason.  He had gotten there early to do some work.  I certainly didn’t care about that, but when the check came for my latte (a whopping $3 and change), he never even looked at it.  Apparently he had already paid for his drink, so he took no responsibility for mine.  Awkward, to say the least.  “Pick-up check” failure.

Ideally, the man will reach for the check before the woman even has the chance to decide between options 1, 2, and 3.  Then, even if it’s not a love connection, she’ll tell her friends how generous he was.  Let’s avoid the game of “pick-up check” and end the date on a more positive note… planning the second date.

If you’re curious, the experts agree.

*Name has been changed.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.


GTJ Competition — Delayed one week

Hi GTJ Friends,

I’m sorry to report that Gather the Jews will delay — by one week — the vote for Jewish Girl and Guy of the Year.

We’re doing this because we’re just not quite ready, and we want to deliver as high-quality and fun a voting event as possible.  There’s still some glitches in the voting, still some links broken, still some profiles waiting to be updated.  As one who gets to take some of the credit for the awesomeness of GTJ, I also deserve the blame, so if you’re upset by this, or have any questions, email me at:

In the meantime, here’s a few responses to the question “Why should you be Jewish Guy/Girl of the Year?”  Hopefully it will whet your appetite.  If you’re a JGOTW and you haven’t sent us an answer, please do so ASAP.

Lazar B.  –   Why I should be Jewish Guy of the Year.

Clark H. and Shaina L.Joint video on why we should be Jewish Guy and Jewish Girl of the Year.

Ben W.:

We have one of the greatest cities in the world for young Jewish professionals. I’m that guy who’s always trying to connect people in the Jewish community and helping others out. There’s so much out there in this town and lots of great people to meet and network with and I’m always encouraging others to get involved because… I mean why not? I’m genuinely a good guy and a mensch.

That’s why I’m your Jewish Guy of the Year.


And we will be adding more- In the meantime, get acquainted with all our Jewish Girls and Guys of the week and view the photos from our 3/28 Party.

Stay tuned!  Apologies for the delay.




JUFJ Seder Focuses on Immigration

When Ilir Zherka got to this country as a two-year-old Albanian immigrant, he didn’t speak a word of English. “Documented or undocumented, it’s hard to live somewhere and feel left out,” Zherka said at Jews United for Justice’s (JUFJ) annual Labor Seder – which remembers the ancient Jewish story of liberation from slavery in Egypt while connecting it to modern social justice struggles – on Sunday night.

“Immigrants really provide a lifeblood to this country,” said Zherka, who’s now Executive Director of DC Vote, the leading advocacy organization for voting rights in the nation’s capital. Like many of the over 300 attendees at the 11th annual gathering, Zherka had a powerful personal story that vividly brought to life the seder’s theme of “Immigrant Roots, Immigrant Rights.”  Though they came from all walks of life – from first generation immigrants to Native American descendants, and from young students to longtime DC activists, artists and workers – the seder participants found a common path Sunday night.

JUFJ tweaked the seder format to the theme “Immigrant Roots, Immigrant Rights,” reworking the four questions, the traditional songs, and even the ten plagues to focus on and discuss the plight of local immigrants. Instead of blood, frogs, and pestilence, for example, the attendees contemplated oppression in countries of origin, poor access to education, and unemployment. The haggadah, the traditional Passover text, was reinterpreted to present information about local immigration issues, discussion topics, and personal stories of immigrants’ experiences.

One personal story, by Lizbeth Mateo, a Mexican immigrant who was the first in her family to go to college, offered the advice, “You are safer if you are out because others will step up for you and fight for you if the need arises. Just remember that you are not alone. We are not alone.”

The crowd also heard from speakers Prerna Lal, Co-founder of, and from Sarahi Uribe, the National Campaign Coordinator for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network – both of whom have experienced great hardship due to the United States immigration system. Lal bravely fights for immigrants in the public eye, despite the fact that she herself is undocumented. The DREAM Act in her home state of California made it so she could go to state university while paying in-state tuition, and she hasn’t looked back since. She’s now working to get the DREAM Act signed into law in Maryland.

Uribe grew up in Los Angeles, and had her father taken away from her early in her life when he was deported to Mexico. She says the Secure Communities program is making communities less safe because immigrants are now in danger of being deported for even reporting a crime – it has “essentially made every police officer in the country a gateway to deportation,” she said. She has introduced a bill to the DC City Council that would stop this program in DC.

At the end of the seder, participants took action by writing letters to local officials calling for more immigrant-friendly policies. Metro Council President Jos Williams, himself a first-generation immigrant who faced discrimination as a child in Little Rock, thanked JUFJ “for reminding me that I am not free as long as there are others around me who are not free.”

If you are interested in getting involved with Jews United for Justice, or to learn more about their efforts to make our region more equal and just (including for immigrants!), please visit or email community organizer Monica Kamen at As we enter the month of Nissan, the season of our liberation, may we all be inspired to work for freedom in our own lives!


Passover Events

If you know of something that should be on here, please leave a comment below or email Stephen (

First Night Seders (April 6)

Second Night Seders (April 7)

Other Events:

Sell your Chametz:

Other stuff:

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Save A Child’s Heart Gala A Success!

Pictured: Ambassador Girma Birru Geda speaking at the Save A Child’s Heart Gala

On March 24, the Israeli based non-profit Save A Child’s Heart (SACH) hosted a fundraiser at the Embassy of Ethiopia.  The gala featured networking, traditional Ethiopian food, and comments by Ambassador Girma Birru Geda, Special Envoy, Ambassador Extra Ordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the United States of America.

The young leadership volunteers of SACH echoed the theme of the night — Tikkun Olam – as they spoke with guests.  Their efforts and all revenue supported one of the largest undertakings in the world that provides urgently needed pediatric heart surgery and follow-up care for indigent children from developing countries. A coffee table book was provided to dignitaries in the room with the photos of all of the children they have saved.

We’ve all heard the mitzvah that saving a single life is like saving an entire world.  While looking at the smiles of these children and their families projected on a large screen, attendees felt the repairing of the world personified.

About 18 months ago, while in Israel, I visited an Ethiopian Absorption Center and a PACT (Parents and Children Together) School in Afula.  There, I had my first experience with Jewish Ethiopians.  A friend joined me last night.  She just spent six months in Gedera, Israel, at one of these Absorption Centers.    We both were moved by the event and would encourage you all to learn more about Save A Child’s Heart.


Online Dating E-mail Etiquette – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (week 33)

In almost every aspect of life, we go after the things we want.  Not happy in a job?  Search for a new one.  Some recent weight gain getting you down?  Up the ante during your workouts.  Why is it, then, that in dating, we think happiness will just find us?  It’s as if we think we have a sign on our foreheads flashing, “Single and ready to mingle.”  Unfortunately, that’s just not how it works.  In online dating, writing a great profile is only half the battle.  To really be successful, you have to be proactive and e-mail people of interest.

First of all, when searching for a potential mate, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Try not to be too picky.  In the long run, will it really matter if someone is 5’8 vs. 5’9?
  1. Update your search periodically to include new people.  Maybe Mr. or Ms. Right lives just five miles outside of your search radius.
  1. Change how you sort your matches.  Try sorting by newest members first, people last online, age, people closest to you, etc.

Now that you’ve found some potential matches, it’s time to send an e-mail.  And women, it’s important for you to e-mail potential matches, too.  Many women think that e-mailing a potential mate might make them lose the upper hand at the get-go or seem less feminine.  Not true.  Again, we need to go for what we want in life, and it starts here.  Also, many people don’t take point number 2 above to heart, and their search criteria may not catch you.  So if you don’t send the first e-mail, that perfect match you’ve noticed may never find you.  And remember… I e-mailed Jeremy first, and seeing as how he’s sitting in the other room of our condo eating popcorn as I type this, I’d say I made out pretty well.

As for what to include in the e-mail, it’s actually pretty simple:

  1. Something about his/her profile that caught your attention;
  2. Something about you and how it relates to him/her; and
  3. A question (to end the e-mail).

In terms of length, a few sentences are enough to get the ball rolling.  No one wants to read your novel after a long day of work.  And no form letters!  It’s very clear when people copy and paste the same e-mail from person to person.  That’s a surefire way to get zero responses.

Now that we know the rules, let’s look at a couple of sample e-mails that work:

Welcome to DC!  Where were you before moving here?  I actually moved here from the West Coast myself, so I think I have the best of the two worlds – a taste for both good wine and historical monuments.

I can help you with the difference between a note and a chord if you’ll tell me something about aeronautics and space.  What exactly do you do in the field?

Looking forward to hearing from you,


And I thought I had a lot of degrees…  Congratulations on getting your doctoral degree.  What’s next?  A Nobel Prize?  haha  I really appreciate when people value education as much as I do.  I got my PhD in Physics before moving here three months ago.

Now for the fun stuff… it looks like we both love food.  I just went to Graffiato the other day, and I liked it a lot.  Do you have a #1 place that I have to try here? 


In the end, you can’t win the lottery unless you play, so you might as well try your hand at the lottery of love to see what it has in store.  Now, go forth and e-mail!

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

This article was also posted in JMag, the online magazine for

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