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Friday, June 05, 2020
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You’re a recent Jewish college graduate who is either living back home or moving into an apartment. Your friends don’t all live within a three-mile radius like they did on campus, and you’re struggling to balance your social life as you attempt to climb the ladder of your career.

How, amidst all of these external pressures (not to mention a pushy grandmother or two), will you ever find the time to land your dream job, find a “nice Jewish boy” (or girl) and settle down?

Dating apps seem to be all the rage these days, but you’ve found that people aren’t always who they seem online (what a shock), and you just haven’t found anyone that you click with yet.

It’s safe to say that you’re not alone. Stephanie Eisenberg graduated from Binghamton University two years ago and faced the ultimate post-grad social life challenge––she was struggling to make friends back in her hometown and was busy looking for opportunities to network professionally. Her sister Sammy, who graduated from Berklee College of Music three years ago, was also living with the tail end of these problems. With her sister’s help, Eisenberg decided to start a platform to kill these two birds with one stone.

Eisenberg created Mensch & Mingle, a Facebook group, in August of 2019. The group hosts monthly events at different venues in Manhattan, which serve as a place for people to connect socially, professionally or romantically, depending on their intention.

“I wanted to bring these three elements of our social lives into one event each month,” Eisenberg said.

The organization’s fifth event took place on Thursday night, Jan. 16, in The Cutting Room on East 32 Street, a bar and concert hall venue that has been home to performances by John Mayer, David Bowie, Sheryl Crow and many more.

The bar’s atmosphere was not lost on its guests, and more than one took the time to notice the chandelier made out of electric guitars that watched over them from its spot on the ceiling.

Eisenberg and her sister choose their venues carefully, and Sammy, a performer herself, uses her connections in the music industry to score desirable spots at no charge to attendees.

While Sammy helps land the venues, she is quick to dole out all credit for Mensch & Mingle’s success to her sister. As a freelance graphic designer, Eisenberg put her skills to use creating the organization’s logo and other branding.

Both of the sisters feel passionate about Mensch & Mingle’s main goal––to get people to make connections with each other in the flesh instead of over the phone.

“We want people to put down those cell phones and dating apps,” Sammy said. “We want people to feel that they’re making connections organically.”

The excitement surrounding the event was almost tangible as the event’s attendees, which grew to more than 100 by the end of the night, got to know each other better.

It was a lot of people’s first time at anything like a single’s mixer.

Attendee Yasmine Pessar, who became aware of the event after it popped up on her Facebook feed, decided to go with an open mind.

“This is a fresh start, a new ‘why not,’” she said. She had just gotten out of a long term relationship late last year. “If I find someone that would be great. If not, that’s fine too.”

She has given up her dating apps for now, but “I might go back,” she said. For her and many others, online dating has become the new norm.

One event attendee, who chose to remain anonymous, had attended the
organization’s past events and had found them to be a great way to make professional connections.

“I’ve met really great people, and I’ve been able to network with people in my industry,” she said. The attendee recently received her master’s degree in public relations.

Other attendees, while they enjoyed the event, felt that there were some areas in which Mensch & Mingle had room to grow.

Paulette Luce and Mitchell Freedman, two friends who grew up together on the same block in Florida, decided to brave the event together.

Freedman, who had attended many events like these in the past, was skeptical at first about how much he would enjoy himself at Mensch & Mingle, though he did say he was glad he came.

“The music is always so loud at these things,” he said. “I came to hear you––not the music.”

While the two were enjoying themselves, Luce mentioned that she would like to see a wider age range of guests.

“People are so nice and friendly––I’ve never been to a single’s mixer before,” she said. “I would just want to see the age cap raised a little.”

“She wants to date a grandpa,” Freedman teased. She looked slightly less amused.

“Twenty-one to 32 isn’t really enough of an age range for me,” Luce continued. “I’m 27 and I tend to date a little older.”

Eisenberg explained that Mensch & Mingle is geared toward students just graduating college, and the age range was carefully chosen with that population in mind.

Freedman also suggested that once Mensch & Mingle becomes more well-known, it should host events tailored to people’s niche interests.

“Like have an event for singles in finance, or who are medical students,” he said. Freedman, who is an engineer, said he would like to meet people within the STEM field. “It’s good to have those similarities in common when you’re meeting new people.” It also makes professional networking easier.

Both agreed that an in-person event like this was much more exciting than dating online.

“It’s hard for me to get out and meet people,” Luce said. She, like others, is busy juggling full-time jobs with social lives, the latter of which always falls under a growing list of priorities. “Most of my friends are in relationships and they’re not going to go out, but dating apps are disappointing and it would be ideal to meet people out in life without having to rely on those apps.”

Eisenberg and her sister would love to incorporate a wide array of events in the near future as Mensch & Mingle continues to grow more popular.

“We would be open to hosting events directed specifically at people’s interests,” Eisenberg said. This includes hosting activities that get people active and who might have certain hobbies in common. “We want to expand to all types of events. In the spring and summer, we’re planning on hosting a softball game.”

Eisenberg is also hoping that her organization draws recent graduates not just in the tri-state area, but all over the country.

“I hope to one day serve all the large cities in the country––there would be Mensch & Mingle events in New York City, Los Angeles, Nashville and more,” she said. “I feel inspired and excited about where this is headed and I see the need for something like this. The post-college crowd is an overlooked age group, and I want something directed toward them. Mensch & Mingle will be a way for people all over the country to meet people after college.”

For more information about Mensch & Mingle, visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/menschandmingle

By Elizabeth Zakaim

 

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