It all starts one Friday night in a shule in Germany, where two strangers meet and toss around an idea…writes Michelle McEwing.
Jonathan is an American expat living with his family in Hong Kong; Robert is an Australian based in Sydney and an active director of JJunction. Both are travelling on business and find themselves in a German city on Shabbat.
The plan Robert and Jonathan discuss that Friday night is to find a way to show the Jewish single expat guys in Hong Kong that they have options if they want to meet and marry Jewish girls. While there is plenty of social life in Hong Kong there are very few Jewish girls.
Fast forward two years. Robert meets a young Hong Kong rabbi, originally a boy from Bondi with high energy and a habit of saying “okay, let’s do it”. When Robert returns to Sydney he gives me Rabbi Asher Oser’s contact details in Hong Kong and suggests I get in touch to see if we can make the idea fly.
It starts off slowly with the Hong team of Rabbi Oser, Carla Green, Daniel Livingstone and Roz Etkind putting together three events while here in Australia Jetset Rose Bay and I start planning travel and accommodation. The enquiries trickle in. We fear we won’t get more than a few girls interested in the trip. But by week four the trip has ignited the imagination of the community. Instead of looking for starters we have to stop taking any more bookings.
On June six to 10, 2013, JJunction takes 22 girls to Hong Kong for a long weekend to meet with professional expat guys. We’ve set the Australian Jewish community buzzing. They talk excitedly about the adventurous girls who have seen beyond their own backyards and are open to meeting guys from all over the world. These are talented, attractive girls who know that there are opportunities if you are willing to look beyond the obvious and the immediate.
On the Friday night, 29 guys book to come along to the Hong Kong Shabbat dinner. The night gets off to an awkward start but once dinner is served and we introduce our own style of slow speed dating the crowd warms up up and everyone begins to relax. After each course, the guys move to the next table. That way, every girl gets to meet at least 12 guys throughout the evening.
News spreads that there are 22 amazing Jewish girls in Hong Kong and by the Saturday night the number of guys grows dramatically and there are more trying to book to come along to the events. Of the 22 girls almost half of them organise private dates with guys they meet and as I write this story I know at least two of the Hong Kong guys have already been out to follow up in Sydney. Most of the girls are still in touch with guys they met on the weekend so when people ask was it a success the answer is hell, yes!
Something we’ve learned is that we need to offer more opportunities for people to meet from across the Asia Pacific region and so the first Asia Pacific singles rendezvous will take place January 31 to February 3, 2014 in Sydney. It will run over the Chinese New Year holiday weekend so expats in Asia will be able to get to Sydney to enjoy our sunshine, beaches and warm Aussie hospitality.
We will be back in Asia again and may look at trips to Israel and the USA in the future. We also hope to welcome lots of overseas visitors to Sydney every second year.
My Nana Goldie always told me that Prince Charming didn’t know where I lived and if I wanted to meet him I’d have to get out and make it happen. These 22 girls did just that.