Amidst the dimmed lights of Heritage Hall with tables dotted with candlelight, love was in the air thanks to Penn State Hillel, an organization for Jewish campus life.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, the organization and their co-sponsor Jews in Greek Life, a branch of Penn State Hillel, hosted their annual speed dating event for Jewish students to have the opportunity to meet their “special Jewish someone,” said Hillel President Jenna Heffler.
One of the organization members who oversaw the event, Jonathan Shahar (freshman-finance), said the event helps bring both the Jewish and the entire college community together, but its “not solely for finding your valentine.”
In the event’s fourth year, the number of participants grew to over 115 participants compared to the 25 to 50 that came to the event’s inaugural year, held in the basement of Irving’s, Heffler (junior-risk management) said.
The event included minute and a half rounds of conversation between a male and female. The female participants stay seated at the tables, and the male participants rotated to different seats, said Michele Abramson, another student who oversaw the planning of the event.
At the end of the conversation, participants either marked “yes” or “not now” in reference to their conversation partner. In the days after the event, Penn State Hillel members will provide the speed-daters with a list of matches who marked a mutual “yes,” Abramson (sophomore-biology) said.
The event provides the opportunity for students to connect in a sober environment, Heffler said.
“Sometimes it’s hard to have an honest conversation,” Heffler said. “ Jewish people have an instant connection because they are Jewish.”
Jen Ruckenstein, a participant in this year’s event, believes speed dating because it’s a fun way to met people. Ruckenstein (sophomore-kinesology) participated in the event last year as well.
“At times, it got awkward,” she said. “ Last year there were more girls than guys so sometimes you had no one to talk to.”
Evan Friedenberg said he mainly does speed dating for the fun of it.
“I do it just to have fun,” Friedenberg (sophomore-information sciences and techonology) said. “ Maybe I’ll get a date out of it, but it’s mostly for fun.”