(1970 - )
There's nothing romantic about Nimrod Lev's Spartan
wedding-white Manhattan office save the pin-up poster above his desk
of a plump, pink Cupid poised to shoot his amorous arrow at any and
all who enter.
Nimrod Lev, by his own
admission, is a man who follows his heart,
and most recently it was this very same cute,
curly-haired Cupid-what a romantic rascal!-who
led him from his native Israel all
the way to the heart of Manhattan.
It was, as they say in
Hollywood movies, a match made in heaven.
Okay, in Lev's case, it's more like a match
made on the Internet, specifically at JCupid.com,
Cupid.co.il, and CupidUSA.com; for, the 32-year-old
Lev is the CEO of Manhattan-based PointMatch
USA Inc. and is co-founder of Israel-based
PointMatch Ltd., the companies that run
the trio of online dating sites that play
matchmaker to hundreds of thousands of
couples by replacing Cupid's arrow with
the click of a computer mouse.
"We are dedicated to bringing Jewish singles together,"
Lev says. "We believe that a major contributor to intermarriages
is the lack of natural meeting places for Jewish singles to interact.
Providing such an environment that promotes the meeting and coming together
of Jewish singles is essential for sustaining the Jewish identity and
promoting the establishment of new Jewish families and homes. JCupid's
mission is just that."
This mission, Lev says, is crucial when the latest statistics that
point to the continuing decline of the American Jewish population are
taken into consideration. According to the National Jewish Population
Survey, conducted from August 2000 to August 2001 and released in September
2003, the American Jewish population has dropped from 5.5 million in
1990 to 5.2 million.
The statistics on intermarriage are not encouraging either. The survey
found that 47% of Jews who married since 1996 have married outside the
faith, and two-thirds of the children of all intermarried parents are
not being raised Jewish.
"Although Jewish organizations spend money on many different
causes-and these are many good and worthy causes-few of them, if any,
are addressing the problem of intermarriage directly," Lev says.
"It's not that Jews don't want to marry Jews. It's that it is difficult
for them to meet other Jews easily. JCupid.com recognizes this and has
become the meeting place for thousands of Jewish singles."
Speaking of single Jews, before you get any ideas,
ladies, the tall, handsome, raven-haired Lev with the soulful hazel
eyes isn't one. He met his wife, Efrat, a pediatric resident who looks
like a runway model, long before his first online dating site, the Tel
Aviv-based Cupid.co.il, was even a gleam in Cupid's all-seeing eye.
"Everyone always asks me whether we met online," Lev says,
as he calls up a computer portfolio of the latest photos of his 2-year-old
daughter, Noam. "We met on a double date. It was pure luck."
But, not to worry, he says, there are other guys, single guys, out
there, waiting in the wings for Cupid to make you lucky, too. Just look
at the numbers: Cupid.co.il, the largest and most successful online
dating site in Israel, has more than 700,000 members; the U.S.-based
JCupid.com is the second largest Jewish online dating site, besting
its 170 competitors; and CupidUSA.com, which caters to daters of all
faiths, was recently launched with some 800,000 users.
With the sites, Lev says, you don't have to wait for Cupid's arrow
to strike; all you have to do is click your mouse to find a prospective
mate. To prove his point, he logs onto JCupid.com and scrolls through
hundreds of bios from around the world of people, aged 18 to 80, who
are looking for love.
"Unlike other online dating sites, on ours you can do almost
everything for free," he says, adding that the only fees-$24.95
for one month, $49.95 for three months, $74.95 for six months and $99.95
for a year-are "success" fees. Unlike other online dating
services, users pay only if they want to respond to someone who has
shown an e-mail interest in them.
Then he clicks on the testimonials, the hundreds of stories that play
out the classic boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy marries girl
and they all live happily ever after, thanks to this 21st century online
There is the blurb from Lissa and Tzvi, who can't believe that "e-mail
could change my life like this." And the longer e-mail communication
from Isaac, who met and married Debbie "after a year and a half
of courtship and traveling back and forth from Israel to Miami
picture of Debbie in your file just sent an arrow through my heart.
We both wanted to thank you deeply for the service that you are providing
and the relative low cost in finding the spouse of your dreams."
Lev reads the note and grins, adding that these stories are what compel
him to work around the clock. His favorite, however, comes from one
of his first clients, an Israeli woman who found her soul mate on Cupid.co.il
when few Israelis even knew what the Internet was. He still keeps one
of her original letters-in Hebrew-on his desk. She had met some 50 men
through the dating service and just when she thought she was going to
give up, she found Mr. Right.
"She used to call me all the time, this was when the idea of
the Internet and online dating were new," Lev says. "It was
really important for me that she found someone. She was 40 when she
started looking, and when we last communicated, she said that they were
discussing marriage. I never knew what happened, so a few months ago
I went online and started snooping around and found out that they had
gotten married and they now have a 3 1/2-year-old daughter. That's really
heart-warming for me."
Lev is not only lucky in love, he also is lucky in work. After graduating
from The College of Management, School of Media Studies in Tel Aviv
with a Bachelor's degree in communications and management, he took a
job as the first online editor of Tel Aviv-based Walla Communications
Ltd., which subsequently became the leading Internet portal in Israel.
"This was when the Internet was in its infancy in Israel,"
he says. "I didn't know anything about the Internet. I didn't know
anything about Walla. I didn't even have a computer at home, so I went
to my college and someone helped me log on, and I saw the potential."
It was through Walla, which managed dozens of Internet sites for a
variety of big businesses in Israel, that Lev was introduced to Cupid.co.il.
"One of our clients, Zion Madmon, had been hired to create a website
for an off-line dating service and when the dating service went out
of business, he wanted to do something with the software. So we created
Cupid.co.il," Lev says. "I worked on several sites for various
Walla clients, but this was my favorite."
The idea of online dating seemed so far-fetched that everyone thought
Lev was crazy when in 1999 he left Walla, where he had a large package
of stock options that had the potential to make him rich, to work full-time
on Cupid.co.il. With financing from Mapal Communications, which is owned
by Tammy Moses and Nadav Palti and from Rafael Zarfati, a partner in
one of the leading advertising agencies in Israel, Lev and Madmon founded
PointMatch Ltd. Later, Yedioth Achronot, Israel's largest daily newspaper,
"In Israel at this time, meeting people online sounded like something
from a science fiction movie. When we held events to promote the site,
people looked at us like we had landed from Mars," Lev says. "But
for me, it was crystal clear why this service was a revolution. It had
all the advantages over traditional off-line dating-it was convenient,
you could do it at home, privately, anytime you wanted and you could
search for exactly the type of person you wanted to meet."
Indeed, the Israeli site became so successful so quickly that by 2001
Lev and his family were settled in Manhattan so he could open the second
site-JCupid.com -and get set for the 2003 launch of CupidUSA.com. It
was not an easy move. Although Lev had visited the United States several
times and was familiar with New York City, his wife had never been there.
"Our daughter was three months old at the time, we had just gut-renovated
our apartment near Tel Aviv, we lived only blocks from my mother, and
my wife had just started her residency in the best pediatric hospital
in Israel," he says. "My wife had to restudy in New York for
a year before she could get a residency here."
For Lev, who is in his office 24/7, it all is a labor of love. "I
consider myself lucky because I not only like what I do, but I believe
in what I'm doing," he says. "Our companies are like one big
family; we started from nothing-we had only two employees in the beginning
and it was only a short time before we had 35 total in Israel and in
New York. JCupid.com and Cupid.co.il are both successful, and they are
making a profit. We are always working on making the sites more interactive
to further take advantage of our innovative technology-audio, video,
and access through cellular phones and PDAs. We've always been leaders
in the field; we've always been at least a step ahead of our competitors,
and we will continue to do what we do best: introduce people worldwide
in the most efficient way."
Ironically enough, it was war-not love-that prepared Lev for his career
and reinforced his belief in promulgating the Jewish faith via Jewish
marriages. Military service is compulsory in Israel-women serve two
years and men three. Lev, however, opted to serve five: three years
as a paratrooper in a combat unit and then two years in charge of an
intelligence unit that focused on anti-terrorist tactics. Today, he
is a captain in the reserves.
"When you walk 60 miles with 40 pounds on you, everything else
looks easy," he says. "I wish that young people didn't have
to go through this. At this age-after high school graduation-they should
be thinking about chasing down dates not about chasing terrorists. But
I know that until we find peace, everyone has to contribute to Israel's
safety. We're defending Israel so Jews all over the world will have
a place to feel safe. This is one of the reasons we need to do whatever
we can to bring Jews together."
Lev says that he is happy that his on-line matchmaking, in its own
small way, is helping to do this.
"Whatever you do, don't give up on looking for someone to love,"
he says. "There is someone out there for you."
Sources: Article written by Nancy Ruhling, courtesy of Lifestyles Magazine