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Jews just want to have fun

And perhaps find love by turning Christmas Eve into the jolliest night of the year
By JACQUELINE HOUTON  |  December 11, 2008


What to do if you don’t do Christmas
You say you can afford a hangover on Christmas Day? Well, all right, but don’t drink alone. Feel free to dance December 24 away at one of these local events.
THE MATZO BALL 9 pm to 2 am at the Estate Boston, One Boylston Place, Boston. Tix $30 at or call 888.633.5326.
THE BALL 8 pm to 2 am at Felt, 533 Washington Street, Boston. Tix $10 in advance, $20 at the door. Visit
JBALL 2008: ROCK STAR PARTY (for ages 21 through 29) 8:30 pm to 1 am at Revolution Rock Bar, 200 High Street, Boston. Tix $20 in advance, $25 at the door (if available).
JBALL, DINNER, DANCE, & SOCIAL PARTY (ages 40+) 8 pm to 1 am in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency. One Avenue de Lafayette, Boston. Tix $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Visit or call 781.444.7771.
QUICK DATES, the annual speed-dating night sponsored by Keshet, has been a Christmas Eve favorite for Boston’s GLBT Jews for the past eight years. But for 2008, Keshet is going the traditional route by hosting a Chinese-food and movie night. Have no fear, Quick Dates will live on — it’s just being moved closer to Valentine’s Day. Keshet’s Erev Christmas begins at 6 pm at Tamm China, 423 Harvard Street, Brookline. RSVP by December 14 to or call 617.524.9227. Details available at
The streets are deserted, the storefronts chained shut, and there's not a glimmer of neon to guide you to your favorite bar. If your Christmas Eve involves baking cookies and guzzling eggnog, hanging stockings and heading to midnight Mass, or bonding with family around a warm fire (or bickering with them — hey, a tradition's a tradition), you may never have noticed how the whole not-a-creature-was-stirring shtick can start to feel a little post-apocalyptic. The songs insist it's the most wonderful time of the year, but if you're not among the 96 percent of Americans who celebrate Christmas, it's easy to contract a mild case of ennui come late December, as more than a few Jews can testify.

With the next day likely off from work and no obligation to face the familial gauntlet run of a two-hour turkey dinner, December 24 might seem an ideal night for the chosen people to burn a little midnight oil. Yet for years, few options existed for those looking to get out of the house and escape the nonstop televised onslaught of "very special holiday episodes" and Miracle on 34th Street. Moo goo gai pan and a trip to the movie theater were essentially the sole recourses for a Christmas Eve outing. But in recent years, a new tradition has transformed that potentially isolating occasion into what, for some, is the social event of the season. December 24 is now a major club night for Jewish 20- and 30-somethings, especially those ready for a little romance — no mistletoe required.

The trend has been embraced in dozens of cities across the country, from Berkeley to Boca Raton, Chicago to Charlotte, DC to Dallas; in New York City, you can now find 15 or more venues hosting Christmas Eve shindigs for Jewish singles. But the phenomenon actually got its start right here in Boston. Back in 1986, a recent BU grad named Andrew Rudnick was dabbling in real estate by day, bartending by night, and looking — not so successfully — for love all the time.

"They say necessity is the mother of invention," recalls Rudnick, whose search for a nice Jewish girl took him to a singles mixer at a Boston hotel on Christmas Eve. But the awkward shuffling to cheesy music in the dark function room, the long lines for drink tickets, and the pervasive vibe of a prom-gone-wrong left him convinced he could do better. "It was a great idea to bring young Jewish kids together. Why wasn't this happening in a nightclub?" Rudnick wondered.

The answer, of course, was that all the clubs were closed. But Rudnick set out to change that the following year, persuading Lansdowne Street's club kings, the Lyons brothers, to let him try a night of networking and matchmaking on December 24 at the club where he worked, Metro (later the home of Avalon, then a construction site, and soon to become the new House of Blues). They didn't know what to expect: the Lyons brothers had never kept a club open on Christmas Eve, and it was Rudnick's first time promoting an event, so they were hoping for a few hundred attendees. Two thousand revelers showed up that night, a turnout so unanticipated that the club owners actually had to leave their own Christmas party to help staff the coatroom, pour drinks, and work the floor. The Matzo Ball was born.

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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Andrew Rudnick, Christmas Eve, JBALL 2008: ROCK STAR PARTY,  More more >
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