How The Lox Club Became the Most Exclusive Jewish Dating App Around
A new, members-only Jewish dating app has “ridiculously high standards,” but not in a douchey way.
I swore up, down, and sideways I would never use a Jewish dating app again.
I have, on more than one occasion, described my relationship to Judaism as “more Mel Brooks than Matzo Meal,” a phrase I think even the comedy legend himself might identify with (Brooks is notably not religious). I am, as the phrase goes, culturally Jewish: not practicing, but I have a special place in my heart for the cultural trappings of Judaism and the experience of existing in the world as a person who hails from such a background. But if you’re looking for a proper Jewish wife with whom to make proper Jewish babies and lead a proper Jewish life — as Bob Dylan‚ née Robert Allen Zimmerman, so succinctly stated — it ain’t me, babe. I like bacon and going dancing on Friday nights, and I like my life that way. The times I have gotten on best with Jewish guys I’ve dated is when we were on the same page about that. But I didn’t think I was going to find them on an app dedicated explicitly to Jewish people, and certainly not one decked out in Jewish paraphernalia (lots of blue and white, Stars of David, etc.) that my single, septuagenarian aunt might also consider using.
Enter The Lox Club.
In what would prove to be a fruitful summer of this pandemic year, Austin Kevitch — who also co-founded the successful apps Scholly and Brighten — launched the aforementioned “private, membership-based dating app for Jews with ridiculously high standards.” The “ridiculously high standards” part is meant with tongue planted firmly in cheek, Kevitch says, poking fun at pretentious social clubs while still acknowledging the app is going to cater to a thoughtfully curated community.
“I just couldn’t take myself seriously if I was like, all elite and ‘We’re the best,’ so I wanted to make it fun. I think I myself would rather be a part of something that’s more self-aware and funny than something that’s like, ‘We’re too good for you,’” he says. Long story short: “Yeah, we have high standards, but not in a douchey way.”
The Lox Club is also aimed at people who are culturally Jewish, like me and like Kevitch himself. It’s an app he ideated because it was something he wanted to use. “I tried to make it as [minimally] religious-feeling as possible. Of course, I got pressure from friends [saying], ‘Oh, you should make it say ‘mazel tov’ when people match,’ but I don’t want it to feel like we’re pushing anything,” he says. The app is also not politically affiliated. “I’d rather just feel like [it’s] this cool community that happens to be culturally Jewish but doesn’t need to be religious.” In that spirit, Kevitch compares the app to a deli: “Culturally Jewish, yeah, but anyone can come and enjoy the deli, right?”
That said, the deli is actually an ongoing motif in the app, which introduces itself as a reimagined version of the fictitious Spielman’s Delicatessen, owned by deeply-in-love couple Morris and Josie. Upon Morris’s tragic passing, Josie ran the deli, but with a twist:
“She felt lucky to have experienced a fairytale love with Morris, and wanted to create a space for others to find love as well. She opened up a secret speakeasy hidden within the deli and called it The Lox Club.”
Lox Club lore goes on to say the club, a hotspot for Jewish elite and their non-Jewish brethren, was shut down by police in 1953, only to reemerge anew now.
Had she existed, Josie would be proud. On the app you’ll find people from all walks of life, all sorts of careers. More and more applications for The Lox Club roll in every day, people filling out the short questionnaire asking for their career accomplishments and goals, their reasons for desiring to join the community. It’s up to the membership committee to decide who’s in and who’s waitlisted; they accept about 20 percent of applicants. The committee is looking for people who are down-to-earth and well-rounded — people who have an interesting story, goals they’re actively pursuing, interesting ambitions for the future — someone they themselves would want to be friends with or date.
Social media followings and clout don’t matter. No one gets flat-out rejected as yet, but if your application is lazy and you’re just looking to hook up, don’t expect to get in right away. “I want someone who’s there looking for their dream partner, who’s actually looking for their future husband, future wife, their future partner,” Kevitch says.
The best applicants will take it seriously, especially since what they write in the career and ambitions portion of the application will also appear on their profile (you are allowed to edit it upon acceptance, though). “We want our [app] to be more about depth and this person’s character so people can form deeper connections,” Kevitch says, and The Lox Club considers a robust profile crucial to fostering those connections. “It helps with making conversation. Whereas with other apps, I would just match with girls and I would have no idea what to say. I would just say hi and then get ghosted,” he laughs.
Once accepted, members also have an opportunity to interact with an in-app matchmaker, who will respond to queries for the kinds of people a user is looking for. (Blonde advertising executives in Los Angeles? Brunette writers in New York? *cough cough*) Those matching a desired description will then appear among one’s matches. A matchmaker can also assist you in spiffing up your profile, helping you update prompts and choose images.
“Okay, so not the biggest fan,” the matchmaker texts me when I submit a photo of myself posing ironically in front of the giant purple Scientology building in Los Angeles — but her objection is not for the reason I expect. “Because we can’t see your face!!” she clarifies. I update the photo with a smiling image from a book festival and it’s approved. “Love it,” she says, and I’m on my way.
Be aware, you only get a handful of matches every few hours, a purposeful choice made by Lox Club to remove the gamified aspects of swiping ad infinitum. The idea, similar to the premise behind elite dating app The League, is that if you see only a few prospects at a time, you’re more likely to actually consider them and not chase a validation rush. After several matches, a small quote from Josie appears to let you know your time’s up: “Don’t eat all the lox at once. A fresh batch arrives in a couple hours.” Though if you want to “skip the wait,” you can pay extra in addition to your choice of the quarterly, six-month, or annual fee.
The app is still new, it reminds users, but it’s ultimately the product of a desire for something that didn’t exist. Like Kevitch, the founders of the Judaica companies I previously wrote about also sought a more stylish Jewish experience, which seems to be a growing demand from our generation.
“I completely get it,” Kevitch says. “Jews deserve something cool.” So no, there’s no blue and white color scheme or gaudy confetti or some other kind of Jewish romance paraphernalia on the app. “I wanted it to be a much cooler brand because a lot of the Jewish dating apps felt corny,” Kevitch says. “I really asked myself, what’s something that, if I heard of it, I would be interested to hop on it and try it?” If you understand the name of the app and its sleek black and white design — one that, rather humorously, resembles the markings of smoked salmon on a stone tablet similar to those on which the commandments appeared — then you know. And that’s enough.
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