We Came, Kibbitzed and Konnected

We Came, Kibbitzed and Konnected

Long-awaited Jewish singles/mingle inaugural event drew a formidable crowd anxious to be out and open to making new connections.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

The crowd made the most of a sweltering evening. // Credit: Jon Marks Photography
The crowd made the most of a sweltering evening. // Credit: Jon Marks Photography

The only thing more sizzling than the record high temps on Tuesday, June 21, was Kibbitz & Konnect, Ray Alyssa Rothman’s premier social event for Atlanta singles at bar(n) in Dunwoody Village.

Rothman, who had been planning the event for months, utilizing social media and other outlets, pronounced it “a smashing success.”

“The kickoff event exceeded my expectations, with over 160 people attending,” she told the AJT. “It was great seeing connections being made, with people traveling from as far as Birmingham. Hopefully more people at future events will come from Chattanooga, Greenville, Nashville and other southeast cities.”

Ray Rothman and Beth Freedman organize programs on behalf of Jewish singles. // Credit: Jon Marks Photography

During the event, singles ranging in age from the 20s-30s to the 40s-60s sought out potential partners who caught their eye and maybe just emitted a spark.

“I would like to meet a woman who has a ‘Jewish head,’ is family oriented, fun, normal, with no drama,” said dentist Lior Raphael, 38.

Divorcee Arona Elk, 46, who is a mobility therapist for the visually impaired, said, “I’d like to meet someone who is fun, friendly and into having a relationship.”

Stephen Jaffe (no relation), who is in the recycling business and has a side hustle as a songwriter, drove in from Birmingham for the event. Sporting a tie-dyed kippah, he described himself as “happy-go-lucky.”

When it comes to his bashert, the 63-year-old says, “I’ll know it when I see it. I’m seeking that certain spark.” Jaffe professed his love of Torah, mentioning his involvement in Chabad and said that he was open to meeting interesting people.

Josh Lehrer, a 28-year-old nurse practitioner and Emory grad who is originally from New Jersey, said, “I’ve lived in four major cities. If I meet someone here, maybe I will stay put in Atlanta.”

Elliot and Arona were looking for fun and friendly connections.

Baltimore native Paula Jontiff, 34, an area executive at Nordstrom, came with her friend, Carla Hockenberry, who is also 34 and a therapist. Jontiff said she was looking for “a really nice guy who gets along well with others.”

“Intelligence is very important to me,” Hockenberry added.

Sales executive Josh Rittman, 42, was in search of “an amazing Jewish woman.” He admitted that his ex-wife was on the other side of the patio, also networking.

Elliot, a 37-year-old funeral director in Lawrenceville, is divorced and co-parenting two young children. Over the last year, he said, he had spent time browsing dating apps. At the singles event, his approach was to stand along the side to see who made contact with his piercing blue eyes. Evan Blitzer, a 31-year-old customer service rep, was “just open to making new friends.”

Beth Freedman, a matchmaker and dating coach who started the JuLuv website with Jenna Shulman in 2014, helped Rothman along the way and also checked in attendees.

Carla and Paula, both 34. Paula is seeking “a really nice guy who gets along well with others.”

“I’m married now, raising a family and have always seen the need for Jewish singles’ platforms,” Freedman said. “Ray is very timely here, coming out of COVID, where people have not been meeting so much face to face. Tonight we are all happy to be out.”

Freedman, who has a degree in counseling and says she’s had 10 marriage matches so far, says that “Sometimes people screw up being their best self before they even meet the person. Things are often misread. We arrange the dates and sometimes have to urge men to follow up, as they can be bad at that. Dates can be ‘one-and-done’ or long-term.”

This chalkboard greeted singles at the Kibbitz & Konnect event at the bar(n) in Dunwoody Village. // Credit: Jon Marks Photography

Following the first singles’ gathering, events will split into two groups, one for the younger singles and one for the older. But Rothman envisions more than just social networking: sign-ups for theater, musical concerts, dining, dancing and Shabbat dinners with other Jewish singles.

The next event for the 40s-60s will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 9 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Ecco in Buckhead. The 20s-30s crowd is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Hudson Grille in Sandy Springs.

“I truly feel that Kibbitz & Konnect can benefit the Atlanta Jewish community and help to build Jewish continuity,” Rothman added.

To sign up for the mailing list and future events, visit www.kibbitzkonnect.org.

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