(Screenshots courtesy of the author, illustration by The Free Press)

The Tinder Inquisition

‘Before we go any further. . . are you a Zionist?’

Not too long after October 7, Itamar Edelman, a 34-year-old artist who lives in Los Angeles, matched on Hinge with a pretty woman named Lina. 

On his profile, Edelman’s ethnicity is set to “Middle Eastern” (he’s Iraqi Israeli), and his religion to “Spiritual/Jewish.” He’s been looking for “sparks of connection,” he tells me.

“Hey, Lina,” he messaged a few months ago. “Happy Friday!” 

“Hey!” Lina wrote back. “This is unfair because I don’t throw this question to everyone on Hinge but. . . thoughts on IDF?” 

Jake Williams, a 32-year-old ad salesman based in New York, matched with a guy on Grindr called Eric. The two chatted a bit through the app and soon exchanged numbers. Williams sent Eric a selfie—his Star of David necklace clearly visible. 

“Do a lot of people ask you about Palestine?” Eric immediately texted. “What’s your opinion?” 

Harry Markham, a 24-year-old student in London, refers to himself as a “charming Jewish boy” on the apps. Since October 7, he says, about half of his matches have grilled him on the Jewish state: “They say, ‘Before we go any further—are you a Zionist?’ ” 

The war in Gaza has crept into many a friendship and family gathering, and Jewish singles—on Hinge, Bumble, Tinder, Grindr, and OKCupid—are reporting that it’s their Jewishness, not their politics, that has put a target on their backs when it comes to dating. While the pro-Palestine movement is quick to declare that anti-Zionism is different from antisemitism, that distinction doesn’t quite track for many young, Jewish singles.

A student who lives in New York and declined to give his name for privacy reasons matched with a cute guy on Grindr, went to bed, and then woke up to an odd message from him: “Get that dumbass flag out my messages pls.” Except there was no flag in his profile—only a small Star of David he’d added before his name. “What flag?” he asked. 

“The Israeli flag since ur too dumb to figure it out. So pls be on your way.”

Singles tell me they feel interrogated, and as though, because they’re Jewish, they have to answer for the actions of the Israeli government. “It’s as if I have to be a ‘good Jew,’ ” says Markham. Daniela Aguinsky, a 30-year-old screenwriter living in Buenos Aires, lists her Judaism on the apps, and that she speaks Hebrew. She thought putting it out there could lead to better conversation with both Jews and non-Jews alike. “Topics like, what did you do for Passover?” Daniela mused. “Or how do you prefer your matzo balls?” But the messages she’s been getting lately sound more like this: “Are you a Zionist? Because I’m the grandson of Palestinians and I don’t approve of the genocide.” One man on Bumble responded to her opener, “What’s up, kid?” with this: “Horrified by the genocide in Gaza. And how are you doing?” 

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