Davis’ inspiration comes from her own grandmother, Rose Goldberg, who survived the holocaust in hiding after being sent to the ghettos of Wladimir Wolynsk in Poland.“I used to think she was just this old-school sweet Polish lady,” Davis says.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.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 larger a pool of potential dates you have, the more the paradox of choice causes people to freeze up,” says Ori Neidich, one of Davis’ Presen Tense mentors.“Erin has tapped into a need, you still have to meet people in person no matter what because that kind of chemistry can never be imitated by technology.” Old-school matchmaking is making inroads onto the scene for the crowd of those sick of swiping their phones to no end.
Davis is quite rare, a matchmaker who does things the artisanal way, setting up singles through dinner parties, not apps or algorithms.
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.
“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.