Matzo Ball

Matzo Ball

The Matzo Ball is an annual Christmas Eve nightlife event and party held in a number of major cities in the United States and Canada targeted primarily at young Jewish singles and organized by the Society of Young Jewish Professionals.[1][2]

The name of the event is frequently spelled MatzoBall[3][4] or misspelled as Matzah Ball[3][5] or MatzahBall.[6][7]

There are a number of competing social events in Jewish communities throughout the country held that same night. In addition, Matzo Ball and similar spellings are also used as the names for a variety of other, unrelated Jewish community events in particular regions.



Historically, Jews in Europe would hide in their homes and villages during the Christmas holiday, for fear of violence from locals.[8] In the United States, Christmas and Christmas Eve typically serve as times of family gathering and prayer for Christians and many others.[9]

The atmosphere of religious liberalism and tolerance in the United States has offered American Jews the opportunity to enjoy the holiday period.[8] At the same time, many American Jews do not engage in the same family-gathering activities on the Christmas holiday that Christians in the United States do.[10][11]

Thus, with Christmas Day a work holiday throughout the United States, there is a space of unfilled free time during which much of American commerce and society is not functioning.[1] The night of December 24 has become an opportunity to transform this otherwise brief period of alienation or loneliness[1] into one made to gather, socialize, network, drink, flirt, and romance.[12] The event has turned Christmas Eve into a matchmaking or dating event for young Jews[1][13][14] and "the biggest singles night of the year."[15]

The first Matzo Ball event was held in Boston in 1987 and organized by local social figure Andy Rudnick.[1] The event has permeated American Jewish consciousness, even winding up in fiction.[16]


Matzo Ball events are generally held at popular nightclubs in the cities in which the event is located.[13] The event is typically scheduled to begin at 8 or 9 p.m. and run through the last call time for the state/locality, with peak attendance and crowds at approximately midnight.[17] It has expanded to the following cities:[2][18]

The Matzo Ball has ceded Los Angeles[18] to the much more long-standing Schmooz-a-Palooza hosted by Stu & Lew Productions[1] (which was acquired by JDate in 2006[23]).

The event is organized by the Society of Young Jewish Professionals, an organization created by the founder of the event, Andy Rudnick.[1] The organizers believe that more than 1,000 marriages have resulted from meetings at various Matzo Balls, and Rudnick himself met his wife at a Matzo Ball.[1][24]


There are also a number of competitors to the Matzo Ball and other events organized in cities where no Matzo Ball is held.[1][13]

The Ball

The largest and most geographically widespread competitor is known simply as "The Ball".[1] In New York, The Ball focuses on having separate venues, currently five, targeted by age demographic, and with attendees receiving limousine service between venues.[13][25]

In 2008, the organizer of The Ball, LetMyPeopleGo, attempted to expand the event into 24 other cities with significant Jewish populations.[26][27] In almost all of those cities, with local marketing and co-hosting of the event performed by JDate,[28] it was cancelled near the event date.[28][29][26] However, the Los Angeles version of The Ball, which was instead co-sponsored and co-marketed by the young adults divisions of the LA Guardians, the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging foundation, was successful and held again in 2009.[30][31][32]

Niche and local events

Other New York City Jewish Christmas Eve events include parties for "the pro-Israel crowd, Jewish gays and lesbians, and downtown Jewish hipsters."[13]

The sheer number of events, combined with the compactness of Manhattan, means that events are often held within a short walking distance, if not eyesight of one another.[25]

Likewise, Chicago Jewish Christmas Eve events run the gamut of tastes and preferred crowd. These include gatherings named 'Rockmitzvah', 'Hubukkah', the 'Heebonism' bash (sponsored by Heeb Magazine), and the more mainstream 'The Juju Ball' and 'Retro Eve', a long running but now defunct event.[33]

Washington DC also has a long standing free event, the Gefilte Fish Gala, usually held on December 24, except if the 24th falls on the Jewish Sabbath of Friday night.[34]

Atlanta, which had previously hosted an annual "Matzah Ball" unrelated to the SYJP event,[35] continues to have competing events for both mainstream audiences, such as the 'Bagel Bash',[36][37] and niche groups, such as the local NCJW section's recently inaugurated 'Santa Klutz Ball' for older singles.[38]

Denver, which also hosted an unaffiliated Matzah Ball even in the past, is now home to a similar event called Heebonism[39]. The first Denver Heebonism took place in 2007[40].

Federation YAD/YLD Events

Other major cities have homegrown and well-attended Christmas Eve events that were established long before the Matzo Ball or The Ball entered the local scene. These include Seattle's Latkepalooza,[41] San Francisco's The Latke Ball,[42] Tampa's Vodka Latke,[1] and Phoenix's Mazelpalooza,[43] all of which are sponsored by their respective Jewish Federation's young professionals division.


Schmooz-a-Palooza is the long-running Los Angeles competitor to the Matzo Ball and was held for the 16th straight year in 2009.[1][44] It is hosted by Stu & Lew Productions, which was acquired by JDate in 2006.[23] The event has evolved over the years from a social mixer to a party atmosphere, and brings together many southern Californians who have not seen each other since their younger years in Jewish communal settings.[45][46] It is also a noted opportunity for reconnecting and romance.[47]

Similarly Named Events Unaffiliated with SYJP

Christmas Eve singles events

Prior to Rudnick's organizing of the Matzo Ball in Boston in 1987 and expansion into other cities, Jewish organizations in other cities had used similar names for their own Christmas Eve singles events.

The Jewish Community Center of Dallas had organized its "Matzoh Ball" beginning in either 1981[48] or 1984.[49] The Dallas event continues under that name currently[50] and is unaffiliated with the Matzo Ball event and Rudnick.[18] Atlanta also had its own "Matzah Ball" for many years.[35]

Bowling Related Events

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles entertainment division organized a late spring "Matzah Bowl" event for a number of years, beginning in 1996.[51] In Atlanta, the promoter of the 'Bagel Bash' organized an early spring bowling function for singles called the "Matzah Bowl".[52] In 2009, local music promoters Melissa Stonehill-Publicity and Alex Gutman aka Just Us Productions in New York City, organized a Christmas Eve musical event at Brooklyn Bowl, co-sponsored by Israel's New York Consulate General, dubbed "The Matzah Bowl".[53][54] The event derived its name in part from its location in a Brooklyn bowling alley. The event then took on the name "Jolly Bowl" and still continues with great success.

Other Events Not Targeted at Single Adults

Smaller Jewish community entities have also used variations on the "Matzo Bowl" name for a variety of events, including for knowledge competitions held by individual synagogues[55] and fundraising events organized by chapters of Alpha Epsilon Pi.[56]

The Greater Kansas City Council of BBYO and its AZA Nordaunian chapter sponsor a large annual teen dance called the Matzo Ball, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in April 2010.[57][58]


The Matzo Ball and similar events have been subject to mild criticism that the events are "meet markets"[8] or, more punningly, "[kosher] meat markets."[28][59] Women attendees tend to dress inappropriately in a revealing manner while men at the event are liable to use awkward pickup lines and noticeably prowl.[17][25][60]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Jessica Gresko, Dec. 24 Becomes Party Night for Jewish Singles, Associated Press (Washington Post), December 24, 2006
  2. ^ a b c Mike Cohen, Famous Matzo Ball parties to land here, Jewish Tribune (Canada), November 10, 2009
  3. ^ a b Joe Berkofsky, Christmas time inspires Jews 'to express own Jewishness' , JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency), reprinted in j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California, December 20, 2002
  4. ^ Party pics: 12th Annual MatzoBall party,, 2008
  5. ^ The Matzah Ball at KISS & FLY - Thursday, Dec 24th 2009, - Upcoming Events forum, 2009
  6. ^ Roy S. Gutterman, Hitting the Road to Check Out the Scene During Holiday Season, The (Philadelphia) Jewish Exponent, January 8, 2009
  7. ^ Society of Jewish Young Professionals, Press Release: Record 10,000 Jewish Singles to Attend Matzo Ball® Parties on December 24,, December 20, 2005
  8. ^ a b c What’s a Jew to do on Christmas Eve?, JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency), December 17, 2009
  9. ^ Jennifer 8. Lee, A Season of More, New York Times, December 24, 2008
  10. ^ Brenda Lane Richardson, Deciding to Celebrate Christmas, or Not, New York Times, December 16, 1987
  11. ^ Daniel J. Wakin, Off on Yom Kippur? It's Probably Time To Work a Holiday, New York Times, December 22, 2003
  12. ^ Jennifer 8. Lee, Things to Do if You Don’t Do Christmas, New York Times, December 23, 2004
  13. ^ a b c d e Ben Harris and Jacob Berkman, Hitting the Matzo Balls on Christmas Eve, JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency),December 31, 2007
  14. ^ This Jewish singles party comes but once a year, Christmas Eve has become the hottest annual date for meeting a potential mate, Philadelphia Inquirer, December 25, 2003, available via Newsbank Archives
  15. ^ Meredith Goldstein, Looking for a marry little holiday?, Boston Globe, December 24, 2008
  16. ^ Francesca Segrè, Daughter of the Bride, 2006, pp. 243-244
  17. ^ a b PepGiraffe, Twas the Night Before Christmas, 2007, PepGiraffe, 2007
  18. ^ a b c d Society of Young Jewish Professionals, Select Your City,, 2009
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Andrew Abramson, Jewish singles in Palm Beach County will spend Christmas Eve mingling at Matzo Ball, Palm Beach Post, December 23, 2008
  22. ^ Jean-Sebastien Marier, Matzo Ball coming to town at last, The (Montreal) Gazette, December 23, 2009
  23. ^ a b Press Release, Spark Networks Acquires Schmooz-a-Palooza, OnlineDatingScene, December 7, 2006
  24. ^ Plans Under Way for holiday 'Matzo Ball' in Boca, Elsewhere, Boca Raton/Delray Beach News, November 4, 2007, p. 6A, available via Google News
  25. ^ a b c Seeking the perfect Matzo Ball, JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency), November 30, 1999
  26. ^ a b 'challahbackgirl', Move over Latke Ball, The Ball 2008 is in Town, Jews' Next Dor, December 12, 2008, archived at
  27. ^ Press Release, The Ball 2008 in Ft Lauderdale- The Nation's Biggest Jewish Singles Event (Christmas Eve, December 24),, 2008, archived at
  28. ^ a b c Josh Novikoff, Hooking up This Hanukkah?,, December 22, 2008
  29. ^ Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz, Nightlife Agenda, Washington Post, December 20, 2007 ("Correction to This Article: The Ball, originally listed under Dec. 25, has been cancelled.")
  30. ^ Julie Spira, Jewish Singles Gather in LA to Celebrate the Holidays in Style and Support the Elderly, Huffington Post, December 28, 2009
  31. ^ Alysia Gray Painter, Mix and Be Merry at The Ball: Jewish singles hobnob in Hollywood on December 24th, NBC Los Angeles, December 23, 2009
  32. ^ Young Divisions' Holiday Ball, The Guardian (newsletter), Winter 2009, p. 10
  33. ^ Sarah Preston, Matzo Tov!, Chicago Magazine blog, December 11, 2008
  34. ^ Aruna Jain, (December 23, 2004) For Those of Other Faiths, a Not-So-Silent Night Washington Post
  35. ^ a b Detours: Alterna-thrills, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 9, 2006, p. 28, available via Google News/NewsBank
  36. ^ SCENE: MUSIC / PARTY / CHARITY, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 29, 2005, p. P24, available via NewsBank
  37. ^ SCENE: NIGHTWATCH: Bagel Bash to tell hole story at Tavern, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 23, 2004, p. P24, available via NewsBank
  38. ^ Jonathan Barach, Thought You’d Like to Know, The Jewish Georgian, November-December 2009, p. 9
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ Candace Heckman, What if you're Jewish and bored stiff on Christmas Eve?, Seattle Post-Intelligencer - The Big Blog, December 24, 2007
  42. ^ Jay Firestone, One Jew's Christmas Eve, The Jewish Journal (Los Angeles) - Calendar Girls blog, December 28, 2007
  43. ^ Leisah Woldoff, Mazelpalooza rolls out red carpet for YJP, Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, November 21, 2008
  44. ^ JDate's 16th Annual Schmooz-A-Palooza, (2009)
  45. ^ Keren Engelberg, Have a Holly Jolly Schmooz-fest, Jewish Journal (Los Angeles), December 18, 2003
  46. ^ Danny Baram, Christmas Time for the Jew,, December 23, 2008
  47. ^ Alie Ward, Your week, on a platter: Dec. 24-30 brings you horny Jews and Hamburger combovers,, December 24, 2007
  48. ^ Get Out There!, The Dallas Morning News, December 22, 2008, available via Google News Archives/NewsBank
  49. ^ Weekly Planner, The Dallas Morning News, December 15, 2001, available via Google News Archives/NewsBank
  50. ^ Katey Margolis, Kosher Kisses, Dallas Observer, December 23, 2009
  51. ^ Mike Levy, Calendar, (Los Angeles) Jewish Journal, May 10, 2001
  52. ^ "Fat Asian Baby", Parents Pissed About That Shiksa You,, March 4, 2005
  53. ^ And To All a Good Night, New York Times, December 23, 2009
  54. ^ Brooklyn Bowl's First Annual Matzah Bowl! - Inaugural Tribal Music Festival, Brooklyn Bowl, 2009
  55. ^ Steve Dershowitz, From the Prexy's Computer, in Temple Beth Torah Times, June 2008
  56. ^ KSUViolet06, What's your big thing(s)?,, August 15, 2004
  57. ^ Kansas City Star, March 31, 2004, p. 24, available via NewsBank
  58. ^ Rick Hellman, Nordaunian AZA alumni plan reunion alongside Matzo Ball, Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, April 2, 2010
  59. ^ GreenEggsSamDC, Merry Christmas, Chapter2006, December 25, 2006
  60. ^ Evan Gahr, Nothing Left to the Imagination, Chimpstein, January 1, 2006

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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