JDate Banners Feature Pictures of Porn Models

Yoav Ribak
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Yoav Ribak

Her name is Hila. She is 22 years old and lives in Tel Aviv. She is very attractive, single, looking for a Jewish husband from a good family, and most important - she is a mouse-click away. This is how the banner persuades you, the Jewish bachelor, to enter the Jewish dating site JDate and find the love of your life.

But Hila in the banner is no other than pornographic model Kari Gold, 18 years old, who lives in Hungary. She is, indeed, very attractive, has a boyfriend and is not looking for a Jewish husband at all. Gold says she is not looking for spiritual qualities in men.

JDate is one of the most popular dating sites among Israeli singles and Jewish surfers throughout the world. A considerable part of its success - it claims more than half a million registered members, tens of thousands of whom are paying subscribers - can be attributed to a massive publicity campaign appearing in recent months on all major Hebrew Internet sites in Israel. The ad campaign is specifically targeted at the Hebrew-speaking local market.

However, Haaretz has found that the site's banners systematically use fictitious characters based on pictures of models taken from pornography sites.

The changing banners carry pictures of different women, all of them young and attractive, and they all invite the surfer to "chat." Apart from Hila, you can meet Sharon, aged 26, who is also very pretty and single, and like all the girls, she too is looking for a Jewish husband from a good family. At least, that is what the banner says.

But Sharon is Devon Sweet, a model whose homepage says she is a shy student from the United States who "is carrying out an in-depth study into the popularity of bisexuality among young American girls." And what about the Jewish husband from a good family?

The use of porn models' pictures in JDate's banners is not in keeping with the declarations appearing on JDate's international site, which appeals to religious people as well. The site claims its purpose is "to help to find real people for real relationships" and "to help strengthen the Jewish community and insure Jewish traditions are carried on for many generations to come."

The dating site's banners pop up on news sites, major Israeli portals and on sites providing Hebrew e-mail services. Even in the simple act of ordering cinema tickets, for example, it is hard not to encounter a banner inviting you to start a "chat" with a nice Jewish girl.

The publicity assault on Israeli Internet surfers is conducted by the world MatchNet company, which operates JDate and Cupid in Israel and nine other dating sites in the world.

MatchNet Israel CEO Ehud Levy commented: "We use pictures taken from an picture archive based in Germany, and we don't know where the pictures come from. The site's policy is to purchase and make use of official photograph archives only."

Clarification: Further to the article on the JDate Web site, it should be noted that MatchNet, the company that runs the site, purchased the photographs that appear in the banner ads from a bona fide picture archive and could not have known that they were pictures of porn models.