Aspiring rabbi uses gay app to promote Shabbat


A rabbinical student is being paid by his university to invite locals to Shabbat dinners using a gay hook-up app.

Matt Green, a 24-year-old, second-year student at Hebrew Union College in New York, has been given a university grant to find and engage estranged members of the community on Grindr.

The free app, which uses geolocation software to identify nearby users, has been characterised as the gay version of dating app Tinder.

But after Mr Green edited his profile to show he was training as a rabbi, the response showed him a whole new world of possibilities.

"Everyone kept asking about Kashrut and Judaism. It occurred to me that what happened on Grindr was speaking to a Jewish communal need. People wanted to talk about being Jewish and Jewish things."

This spike in interest led him to convince Rabbi Peter Rubinstein, the figurehead of New York's Central Synagogue, to award him a Be Wise Fellowship in Jewish Entrepreneurialism grant. Mr Green euphemistically called Grindr "an LGBTQ social network" in his application.

Mr Green said that he saw possibilities for community-building among the questions about Judaism: "Grindr is an untapped place for outreach potential.

"There are a ton of Jews of all stripes, especially people who have nothing to do with organised religion. Why not try getting to them on Grindr?"

Using his professional account, he has organised two Shabbat dinners, the last of which attracted a dozen guests.

"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."

Rabbi Shirley Idelson, who is HUC's dean, congratulated Mr Green on his achievements thus far: "I view these two dinners as successes largely because they serve as proof that Grindr is a viable means of bringing Jews together to build community."

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