June 23, 2024
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‘Corona Crush’ Dating Site Attracts Thousands

In March of 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ian Mark, a 30-something oleh, reached out to his friends to join him in creating a Facebook group called “Corona Crush.” The mission of the group was to continue Jewish dating while everyone was isolated in quarantine. Singles were invited to post photos and bios of their closest friends in the hopes of finding them a match.

Within a month, the group went viral with 10,000 subscribers and garnered a great deal of attention in the media within Israel and internationally.

To date, Corona Crush hosts 21,000 followers and is as active as ever. The group has been wildly successful through its virtual speed-dating events. So far, the group has facilitated nine weddings and 11 confirmed engagements and introduced many other dating couples. Mark has even been honored with the recitation of brachot under the chuppah as a sign of gratitude from various grateful couples.

“My mission is to grow and strengthen the Jewish people while helping Jewish singles find love,” Mark said. After a year of successfully furthering his mission, Mark announced his own engagement. Mazal tov! He and his fiancee are planning an October wedding in Israel.

Mark explained that he advanced the dating platform from a simple Zoom link to a Facebook-based program with an algorithm, utilizing forms filled out by users, based on the ages, interests, locations and level of religious observances. A key component of the site is speed dating. Mark schedules five to seven online speed-dating events per month, which attract over 700 singles per event. Each single is matched with seven video-chat dates of seven minutes each. After the event, each person indicates whom he/she would like to see again. The next step varies according to the organization sponsoring the event. With over 24 co-sponsors modeling their dating sites after Mark’s, the impact of Corona Crush is growing incrementally. Each community will take the march to the next step according to its own customized format. Mark commented, “Just like every community has their own customs for in-person dating, so too when making the leap to digital, there can’t be a one-size-fits-all solution.”

For example, among the groups that have adopted Mark’s technology is Met@Chabad, which has a team of matchmakers handling mutually interested parties and is succeeding in introducing young people globally. Corona Crush is active in communities within Israel, the U.S., Canada, Europe and South America.

Mark was born and raised in Manhattan and attended Ramaz from preschool through high school. For college, he attended the University of Michigan. Returning to New York, he worked in technology with start-ups and venture capital for over three years. He now lives between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. His future wife, a native of Jerusalem, studied accounting at Stern College. The couple hopes to reside in Tel Aviv.

In addition to the highly successful Corona Crush initiative, Mark is growing another company that will service a particular population in Israel. Through online courses, Mark is training haredi women in communication skills so that they can acquire positions in customer service and work for companies from their homes. Before the coronavirus hit, Mark had successfully placed 12 women in company positions. Looking ahead, Mark plans to continue growing Corona Crush in its mission to make as many matches as possible. His goal is to continue running his speed-dating events for free as long as it is economically viable, as currently his revenue comes solely from donations. He also hopes to license out the speed-software he has developed to other communities and organizations.

To learn more about Corona Crush and its affiliates,visit coronacrush.co or [email protected].

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