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Matzoball: For some Jewish New Yorkers, Christmas Eve means hooking up

A live DJ at Matzoball gets crowds on

A live DJ at Matzoball gets crowds on the dance floor, ready to find love (or something like that) Photo Credit: Matzoball

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me... a nice Jewish boy?

Matzoball, an annual dance for Jewish singles on Christmas Eve, hopes so.

Andy Rudnick, who refers to himself as the Chief Matzo Ball, started the event in 1987 after bartending at a nightclub during his time at Boston University.

"I went to a party [on Christmas Eve] at a hotel downtown full of young Jewish kids -- it was great to have them all in one area."

He realized almost every nightspot in Boston was closed for the Christmas holiday but imagined hosting another event for Jewish partiers, in an even better club. The next year, he made his vision a reality -- and by 1989 the event made its way to New York City and Boca Raton, Florida.

"I'm in the business of making Jewish babies," Rudnick says. He himself met his wife at the 1997 Matzoball.

"It took me 10 years of Matzoballs to meet her, but she was well worth the wait: she's smoking hot." The two have a nine-year-old daughter together.

In 1990, Matzoball expanded to Chicago, LA and D.C., and the annual event has continued expanding since.

"I get approached by young kids whose parents met there. I feel like I'm bringing the Jewish community together," Rudnick said.

The Chief Matzo Ball himself believes that people attend this annual event to meet someone -- some for a hookup, others for a lasting relationship.

But New Yorker Sara Miller, 23, attended the NYC Matzoball last Christmas with a childhood friend and without the intention of meeting a guy, as she was already dating someone. The friends went because "they had nothing better to do" on the holiday.

"There were a lot of boys there, it was kind of creepy how they'd look you up and down or just start dancing with you, but I guess that was the point," Miller recalls.

The pair did run into some boys they knew from Hebrew school, reportedly the only people who bought them drinks all night. 

The event has a long-standing history with Jewish New Yorkers. Upper West Sider, Carol Sue Gershman, 79, remembers attending the event a few decades ago.

"I loved going to the Matzoball all dressed up," she said. "I never met anyone, I stood on the sidelines but enjoyed it."

Though the event's age limit is advertised as 49, Gershman says she would consider going again.

Each year's Matzoball changes to incorporate the desires of the community. "All the girls stay the same, and I've gotten old," Rudnick says on the ever-changing event.

For 2014, Rudnick collaborated with social media star The Fat Jewish and is planning to invite other celebrities to the NYC and LA events.

This year's NYC party will help sponsor a matzo ball soup donation from Katz's Deli to feed the hungry at Bowery Mission on Christmas Eve.

While Matzoball's misison is to introduce Jewish singles, Rudnick says, "we really do welcome anybody --as long as they follow the dress code: dress to impress."

He encourages LGBT Jews to attend as well, though admits that Hebro, a gay Jewish organization which also hosts a Christmas Eve 'Jewbliee' is his direct competition.

For those interested in attending Matzoball, Rudnick recommends arriving early before lines get too long and getting ready to really have fun.

"It's the night of a lifetime," he says, "Sparks are flying!"


The 21+ event at Capitale (130 Bowery) starts at 9 p.m. on Dec 24th and runs through early morning. Tickets start at $40.


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