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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Katzwer’s Out of the Bag: TheJMom: the virtual umbilical cord

Published: September 23, 2011
Section: Opinions

In their fight against gay marriage, opponents define marriage as “between a man and a woman,” as per a constitutional amendment. The LGBT community disagrees. As do Jewish mothers apparently. They believe it should be between a man and a woman … and their mothers.

In November 2010, siblings Brad and Danielle Weisberg launched a dating website aimed at Jewish mothers: This disturbing website allows Jewish mothers to create dating profiles for their children, search through dating profiles created by other Jewish mothers and eventually match-make in the 21st century. After all, according to the website, “Who knows their children better than they know themselves? Their Parents!”

The Weisbergs got the idea for TheJMom after their mother, Barbara, became frustrated with their single statuses. After his mother’s incessant nagging to see his online dating profile, Brad gave in and let his mother go wild. After only two hours, she had found 10 prospective dates for him. This was her not-so-subtle hint that she wants grandchildren.

But an idea was born and the siblings decided that if their mother was that good at finding them dates, maybe other mothers would be too.

TheJMom is currently a free website and, as it is still in its infancy, has very few users. It is the trend, however, that is frightening.

Jews do not live in the shtetl anymore. Admittedly, arranged marriages are still performed in some Orthodox communities, even in New York. But at least arranged marriages do not pretend to be something else. Arranged marriage is when a third party, often the parents, decide that a young man and woman will get married; the couple may have some say in it, but the decision ultimately lands on the parents.

TheJMom tries to avoid this by claiming that the mothers work in concert with their children to find spouses. Let’s be honest though, how many mothers on that website are really being upfront about it with their kids? There are no statistics to suggest an answer one way or the other but mere knowledge of mothers meddlesome enough even to take to the Internet to find sons- and daughters-in-law gives a hint.

In USA Today’s feature on the new website, Denice Beckerman, a young woman whose mother covertly created an account for her on TheJMom, said, “I laughed it off. She thinks this is the coolest thing since sliced bread, so I’ve got to let her have that.” Denice is clearly an understanding and generous daughter. Of course, she does not have to go on any of the dates Mom set up for her.

On the other hand, she was being interviewed for an article by USA Today. What did they think she was going to say? “I can’t believe that conniving, sneaky woman did that!? What a bitch!” No. Her mother, who is clearly learning to navigate the Internet and was also interviewed for the article, would find that and probably do something else covert and horrible to Denice.

Of course, Denice may actually be fine with it, just as the Weisbergs were. If so, what does this say about young adults today? Are they really that lazy that they need their mothers to find spouses for them?

On TheJMom website, the Weisbergs explain why this is the perfect idea: “Dating is not easy these days for young professionals. It takes lots of time, money, and can be very stressful.” They add that “kids should listen to their parents.” Just because something is not easy does not mean it should be delegated. Working in business is not easy either, but you don’t call your mom up and ask her to finish your accounting spreadsheet. And if these young adults who have granted their mothers permission to interfere in their lives are too lazy to find spouses themselves, perhaps they are too lazy to keep their Internet-order spouses as well. Relationships take time—nobody said it was easy. Stop wussing out!

And what does this say about the mothers? Are they really that desperate to dominate their children’s lives? This is the time that mothers should be relishing. They no longer have to deal with the everyday doldrums of motherhood—they get to applaud their children’s accomplishments from a slight distance and claim their nachis.

Nu, enough’s enough! Cut the umbilical cord! It has no place in your child’s relationship.

This is not to say that a young adult should not be close with their mother. Moms are great. They’re always there when you need them. Unfortunately, they are apparently there when you do not need them as well.

Of course, this trend is not contained in the Jewish community. Millanus is a similar program for Muslims. Millanus—whose motto is “Muslims Marry Muslims”—hold events where young Muslims can quickly meet others of the opposite sex in controlled circumstances in order to find spouses. But this should not be mistaken for speed dating. Millanus is very clear on that, explaining on their website, “Is it speed dating? No, it emphasizes Islamic marriages rather than relationships between Muslims.”

Well, the other reason it is not speed dating is that, in real speed dating, your parents are not sitting along the side watching.

All religions have crazy mothers. It is a fact that generations of children have learned the hard way.

And the problem is not just mothers. On TheJMom’s FAQs page, someone asks, “Do I have to be a mom to create a profile on” The answer: “No, you can also be a father, aunt, uncle, grandparent or dear friend.” Great, now the whole family can get in on the creepy, overbearing action!

And can it get creepier? Yes. Someone else asks how they can increase responses to their child’s not-self-made profile. The answer: “We recommend including a vast amount of information so other mothers can feel like they know your son/daughter. Include multiple clear photos of your child.”

I want to end this column in the first person by thanking my mother for not being on TheJMom. She may question my brother and me about our relationships but she does not spread our photos around the Internet trolling for spouses to help us give her grandchildren. Thank you, Ema.