“There are a ton of Jews of all stripes, especially people who have nothing to do with organized religion,” Matt Green tells The Daily Beast. “Why not try getting to them on Grindr?”
24-year-old Green is in his second year as a rabbinical student at New York City’s Hebrew Union College. He’s quickly becoming known as the “Grindr Rebbe.”
Green, who is gay, says he first got the idea to encourage gay Jewish men to join Grindr when he joined the popular dating app during his first year of rabbinical school in Israel.
“People were contacting me saying are you Jewish? How was Israel?” Green says. “Then when I mentioned I was in rabbinical school, everyone kept asking about Kashrut [Jewish dietary laws], and Judaism!”
“It occurred to me that what happened on Grindr was speaking to a Jewish communal need,” Green says. “People wanted to talk about being Jewish and Jewish things.”
But it didn’t stop there. After Green returned to Brooklyn, he continued to receive messages from men on Grindr hoping to talk about Jewish things. So last fall he submitted a grant proposal for a Be Wise Fellowship in Entrepreneurship grant, a program dedicated to responding to social, cultural, and technological changes in the American Jewish landscape.
In his proposal, Green argued that Grindr is an excellent tool for curious or unaffiliated Jews to locate one another, build a social network, and share in a Jewish experience, calling it an “untapped place for outreach potential.”
We suppose that’s one way of looking at it.
Much to his surprise, Green was awarded the grant. And he wasted no time getting to work, hosting two large Shabbat dinners for guys he met on Grindr. Just last weekend he had a dozen people over for dinner.
“Shabbat has largely consisted of long, hilarious, and Jewishly rich dinners,” Green explains. “So many people don’t have Judaism in their lives, so I said ‘Look, come over, and we’ll talk about Woody Allen and eat kugel.’”
The dinner included lighting the traditional Shabbat candles, making Kiddush, and blessing the challah bread. As they dined, Green says, guests talked about “relevant issues in the sphere of queer Jewish life.”
Sounds like a very lovely and spiritual evening. Although we can’t help but wonder what happened after dinner. Green didn’t say. But he did say he’s planning on hosting more events in the future.
“Kabbalat Shabbat services are on the horizon,” he says. He also hopes to host a holiday party for Purim, a Jewish holiday in March.