Hebrews And Hotties Congregate For Happy Hour

Over 100 young Jewish professionals came out to the Standard Biergarten to mix it up

Beautiful people aren’t hard to come by in the Meatpacking District. In fact, there seems to be some sort of a law in place: the sign notifying the populace reads “Must be this attractive to navigate cobblestone,” paired with a photograph of the Pinkett-Smiths. Therefore, it is not surprising that many venues flaunt their aesthetically pleasing patrons by hosting them in open, outdoor areas. It is still, quite literally, a meat market.

Last night, the Manhattan Jewish Experience got in on the action, transforming a corner of the trendy neighborhood into a kosher meat market. The organization that holds services, Shabbat dinners and social events for young Jewish professionals around the city threw a happy hour soiree at the Standard Biergarten on Washington Street. 

The walk from the subway is enough to give you a little buzz as you take in the swanky cafes, sleek boutiques and aggressively hip pedestrians. It all triggers the suspicion that you accidentally stumbled onto a movie set. But nope, everyone is just that good-looking.

Walking into the beer garden under the high line, the possibilities are overwhelming, both in terms of the beer options as well as the people filling up the space. Looking for the event, which was not in a private space,  but rather organically dispersed in the regular crowd, forced a few awkward questions to bubble out of people’s mouths like, “Excuse me, but are you Jewish?”

Luckily, a few attendees were sporting yarmulkes, which served as a sort of bat signal for lost sheep. Thank Moses. The turnout exceeded the event coordinators’ expectations, with over 100 tickets sold and none left an hour into the evening.

Natalie Lebovits, who is in her second month running MJE downtown, and Shayna Stein, who runs MJE East, greeted guests at the front of the plush, leafy entrance, distributing tickets and smiles. “Our goal is to build a sense of community for young Jewish people. And a lot of people who come out are single,” said Stein.

Aye, there’s the rub. Many of these young people’s outings masquerade as networking events, but under that delicate façade, no matter how you slice the challah, a lot of the individuals who show up are looking to meet that certain someone.

Mark talked about his interest in the organization, “I wanted to learn more about MJE and attend holidays and Shabbats.” Steven was a touch less subtle in his motives,  “I like the Jewesses.”

Andrea, 26, and half-Israeli expressed some disappointment that there weren’t more Israeli men present, “It’s always hit or miss. But I like the venue and meeting new people,” she said, in a red dress as fiery as her personality.

Though there are still the optimists. “You have to think positively that there might be that one person and it’s the whole networking thing,” said Michele Sopher, who attends a fair amount of YJP events. “This is a good idea if you’re looking for a casual night out with a group of friends. But it’s a catch-22, because it’s hard to meet people,” said Sopher.

Sopher, like many of MJE’s members, grew up conservative. “Sometimes I feel like I’m not religious enough for certain places, but not at MJE.”

“I came to network and meet rich men,” said one fellow, who preferred to remain anonymous.

Brad Landau, who is 25 and lives in Flushing, might be one of those nice Jewish boys. “I like meeting people from the New York area ... or maybe I’ll meet my future wife,” he said.  Landau, who has the kind of friendly confidence that makes you feel at ease, has a fastiduous grading system --- but it’s not for women.

“There has to be a cool rabbi, good crowd, familiar tunes, a text in a format I can deal with and a some social events for schmoozing,” said Landau of his synagogue standards. It seems MJE passed the test, “MJE hits all five pillars”, Landau said.

Brooke, who is 29 and attends MJE West, has no reservations when it comes to candor, “I’m here for all of the lovely, hot awesome people. I’m only here to look at hot people. Hebrews and hotties,” she confirmed. Though soon after she opened up about a deeper benefit of MJE. “I’m into it so that when I grow up I can be better informed and can decide what kind of family I want to have. I grew up Conservative. I like the idea of everyone having to come to Shabbat dinner,” Brooke said.

Brooke was there with her best friend, Lindsay Lustig, and both will be going on the MJE Israel trip from August 1 through 10. Lustig comes from a stricter background. Lustig said she dialed it back while Brooke became more involved in Judaism and now they’ve met somewhere in the middle. The two pals, who met at Indiana University seem to do everything together, though Lustig made it clear that they do not live together. “We are one block away,” defended Lustig.

Men and women were not separated at the event, not even in the bathroom. The caverous, communal space feels more like a modern art museum than a restroom, lined with dramatically long rows of brass, open sinks, and steel walls that evoke the feel of a wine cellar. In the middle of the room the sexes are divided only by a thin mesh partition --- that can be pushed aside with almost no effort.

Happy Hour


Manhattan Jewish Experience




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