Tu Be’Av, the 15th of Av, is the Jewish “holiday of love” and one of our favorites. It’s a matchmaking ritual and celebration of joy that began over 2500 years ago. To celebrate, maidens wore white dresses and danced in the vineyards, enticing the village bachelors. Enchanted by their grace, the men chose which maiden to take as their bride.
After going unnoticed for centuries on the Jewish calendar, the Jewish holiday of Tu Be’Av has gained popularity in recent decades. We hope that its spirit brings you good luck in love this August.
JDate Interviews 2500-Year-Old Jewish Couple
Ari and Sarah Kibitz About Meeting on Tu Be’Av, the Traditional Jewish Holiday of Love
To celebrate the upcoming Jewish holiday of love, JDate sat down with 2500-year-old Ari and Sarah Mendel. The happy couple recounted how they met on Tu Be’Av a few thousand years ago.
JDate: Thank you for coming, Sarah and Ari. Can you tell us a little about how you met?
Ari: Well, let’s see. I was 18-years-old and working as a bus boy at the Second Temple Deli off of 59th street. It was a great deli, some of the best comedians from the Second Temple Period used to kibitz there on weekends, after the clubs let out. I think it was the year 487, before the Common Era. Those were good times. They had their share of calamities, but all in all, good times.
Sarah: Get to the point Ari.
Ari: Okay, it was the Jewish holiday on the 15th of Av, so David, a buddy of mine, and I headed out to the vineyards after work for the annual Jewish holiday Tu Be’Av festivities. You know, a little matchmaking, a little Jewish holiday wine, nice girls. What more could a guy want? And it was the first day of the grape harvest, so there was a lot of wine going around. I think some of the vineyards were owned by a guy called Manischewitz. You may have heard of him? He had some great wine, a little sweet, but we drank it anyway. Hmmm, but I can’t remember what it was called though… And it was a great Jewish holiday night. I mean, you should’ve seen the girls dressed in their Jewish holiday white gowns, dancing in the grape vines and olive branches. Really, it was a good time to be a bachelor. And the Tu Be’Av Jewish holiday was your best bet when it came to scooping up a bride. A real one-stop shop. With no shadchen to screw things up.
JDate: Can you explain what a shadchen is?
Ari: The shadchen was the village matchmaker. Always a risk. Especially since the one in our village was blind as a bat. And as far as I was concerned, he was not picking the gal I was spending the next 2500 plus years with. Seriously, the guy was probably one of the top five worst matchmakers in the Second Temple Period.
Sarah: Anyways, the Jewish holiday fell on a lovely summer evening. There were 11 girls from my temple, and we all wore our white dresses. Actually, the dresses weren’t ours. We borrowed them from other women in the village so the guys wouldn’t know if we were rich or poor. But really, who had money back then? I went with my friend Nurit and my sister Rebecca. It was my first Tu Be’Av Jewish holiday party, and I was thrilled. And a little nervous, too. I mean, what if I didn’t see anyone I liked?
Ari: When my buddy and I got to the vineyards, there were about a dozen beautiful ladies dancing.
JDate: What were they dancing?
Ari: Good question. Probably something like the Jitterbug, the Icky Shuffle, the Charleston… you name it. We were transfixed.
Sarah: We were not doing the Jitterbug. What are you talking about? It was improvised modern dance.
Ari: Who cares? It worked. And then they sang one of the local pop hits. Let’s see, translated it’d be something like: “Young Man Check Us Out and Decide Who You Like.” It was a really snappy number. And there weren’t any boom boxes back then. Oh no, it was just some guy on an accordion and those girls. And it was better than any of that mumbo jumbo you hear today.
Anyway, David and I couldn’t have been happier. All the girls were from another tribe, tribe of Benjamin, I think.
Sarah: That was your tribe.
Ari: Right, right, but the point is the inter-tribal marriage ban had just been lifted on the Jewish holiday. I mean, talk about a mitzvah! And, that’s when I happened to notice a certain someone in a white gown.
Sarah: Well, I was a lively dancer back then. Before the Common Era, that is, when I developed a knee ailment. But never mind that, we were dancing, and that’s when I became smitten with Ari’s friend, David. He was tall and strapping.
Ari: And thick headed. And there was no way I was letting him get to her first.
Sarah: So they both talked to me, and Ari was loud.
Ari: I was trying to be loud.
Sarah: But I chose him anyway because he had a sense of humor. It’s a good thing I didn’t go for looks because after 2500 years at least I’m still laughing.
Ari: So, we danced.
Sarah: He had two left feet, but he was cute. He still had all his hair back then.
Ari: Of course I had my hair; you hadn’t driven me to pull it out yet.
Sarah: I knew I was in love the first time he stepped on my bare foot. It was an amazing Jewish holiday of Tu Be’ Av. We still celebrate it every year. He brings me a white rose and some sparkling cider. It used to be wine, but it bothers Ari’s gout. It makes his big toe swell.
Ari: Who would have guessed, but we were married 6 months after the Jewish holiday. Now, it’s been 2500 years, and we’re still together and still madly in love. Actually, we’re both falling apart, but we’re still together.
Ways to Celebrate Tu Be’Av
Enjoy the Jewish holiday of love the JDate way
- Set up a JDate
- Guys, bring a white rose for your date
- Ladies, wear something white
- Go wine tasting
- Go dancing or take an Israeli folk dancing class
- Have a picnic in a field or park
- Eat grapes
- Have a bonfire with a group of JDaters
- Throw a white Jewish holiday party with your single friends